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Laugh Lines

I like my face. I like my skin. I like my body.

Strange, I know, to see a 33-year-old female write those words and mean them, but I do. (I am also unashamed about my age.)

While working from the inside out is important, it’s undeniable that what greets me in the mirror is a reflection of both, and I find myself reflecting on my reflection as I uncover my layers of me.

I’ve never been a very vain person. As a teenager, I was preoccupied with my image about the same as any average teen would be, and I like to make good impressions and take care of myself now, but I’ve never relied on my outward appearance to get me anywhere or blamed it for holding me back from something. I appreciate my body for the miracle it is and feel gratitude for how well it functions. This earthly vessel for my spirit has rarely let me down, and I am aware of its potential for glory in the hereafter. The idea that I am a combination of all the strength and beauty of my ancestors is pretty neat to think about as well.

I acknowledge compliments on my looks, but they do not gratify me as compliments about my work or character do. I have no delusions of grandeur. I am conscious of the fact that I have an average enough face, that I am no head-turner or supermodel by any means. But I like my face. Not because it’s perfectly beautiful by the world’s standards, but because it’s what represents me to the world. My eyes are bright with hope now, more often than not, and that is what matters right now to me. They are determined and strong and will pierce your soul if you venture to gaze into their depths. I am akin to Medusa, after all.

I also like my wrinkles. No, I’m serious. I feel like I’ve aged slightly beyond my years with all the stress I’ve been under. The lines that appear on my cheeks and forehead when I smile or form a quizzical look no longer completely fade when the expression leaves my face. They are a kind of badge of honor of all the laughter I experienced, even in the midst of my trials. They are a testament to the many summers tanned and carefree that I spent as a youth, and the worries I have carried over years gone by.

I have a small gap between my two front teeth as well. I went to get it fixed once. I sat reclining in the dentist chair, waiting for him to prepare the supplies to fill it in, and I changed my mind. It’s part of my expression and character, my tooth gap. It’s cute and quirky, like me. I decided to keep it.

I’ve lost a bit of weight over the past few months. I don’t really take pride in this, because it was through no effort of my own, but simply due to the fact that food irritated me, and I saw it only as one more thing to worry about. There is a patch of skin, however, on my lower abdomen, that is lined with stretch marks–tiger stripes, I call them–and is stretched to the point that no amount of weight loss or exercise will ever smooth it out. And, you guessed it, I like that, too. I love that most of all, in fact. It’s a daily reminder of my two most precious and glorious reasons for living.

Just below my ribs on my right side, I sport a 4-inch, horizontal scar. This, too, is a beautiful reminder to me. It reminds me to appreciate second chances in life and of my parents’ love for me, as this scar came to me when I was just 3 months old as a result of a condition from which I nearly died. (I know you’re curious, so I’ll tell you it was pyloric stenosis, even though stating it here interrupts the poetic flow of my prose.)

I have multiple other scars and “malformations” on my person, each one a testament to me of the beauty of imperfection. I sometimes hope that, during the resurrection, we might be able to retain a few of these reminders, as the Savior retained some of his, as tokens of all we learned and accomplished in this life.

I have, by no means, reached a state of perfection as far as my self-perception. I am not saying I love every inch of me all the time. At first, my wrinkles pained me, my weight annoyed me, and my pointy chin seemed to be constantly jutting out in competition with my “strong” nose. However, as I observed women in our culture body shaming themselves left and right and watched the billions of dollars flushed down the drain on youth-inducing creams and procedures intended to reach an imaginary ideal, I made a conscious decision to not join them.

I like that my old slacks fit me again, but my worth is not based on my size. I wear makeup, but I also leave the house without it sometimes. I do what I need to care for myself and feel confident. Other people do other things. Good for them. But I am me, and happy to be so, just as I am. Sometimes I might forget that, but then I’ll read this post and remember,

I am a zombie raccoon Medusa with wings.

Nothing is cooler than that.

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