I’m still getting used to my new face. After my LASIK surgery I can now look in my bathroom mirror without my glasses on and see my features without my nostrils fogging up the glass. Which is good because I never liked getting that close of a look at my pores. It’s strange not having those almost-oval outlines around my eyes. I find myself staring at the reflection for 10 -20 seconds thinking, “Oh, so that’s what my face looks like beneath the frames.”
The feeling itself isn’t that new though, because it’s how I’ve felt about my body for the last couple years. After the first nine months I found myself startled whenever I put my hand on my hip and realized I could feel the edge of my pelvic bone. A couple months after I started weight-lifting I reached behind my neck to rub my shoulders and was surprised when I felt the hard mass of muscle beneath my skin. And lately when I’m standing in the kitchen stirring my oatmeal with one hand, the other is usually pressed hard against the side of my chest where I can actually count my ribs with my thumb. Don’t worry, you can’t actually see my ribs beneath my skin, but the layer of fat between my epidermis and those curvy bones is finally thin enough that I can detect their presence with a little pressure.
It never ceases to amaze me how malleable the human body is. There are so many different ways I could look, fat or thin, toned or flabby, wearing glasses or de-spectacle-ed. The possibilities grow wider when I think of the rainbow array of hair dyes available, the thousands of make-up counters across the country, the millions of possible tattoo designs from Tweety Bird to a bed of roses on someone’s back, and all the different places the human body can be safely (and unsafely) pierced. You really could completely reshape your visual identity if you wanted to.
I was searching for old high school friends recently on one of the many social networks available today and it was strange to see photos of people almost 10 years since I last saw them. One guy looked exactly the same in his red flannel shirt hugging his dog. I was glad another had her name posted with her picture because I barely recognized her beneath her dark-red-dyed hair and thick cranberry lipstick. I have no idea if people will recognize my picture or not. I’m about 80-60 pounds lighter than I was in high school, so I’m definitely thinner, but my college professors would consider it even more shockingly thinner. Either way, it’s nice to know that we can change if we want to, but if we want to stay the same that’s a perfectly reasonable option too. I doubt the make-up salesmen trying to sell me 10 shades of lipgloss would agree on the latter though.