Tuesday, March 2, 2010

In The Mirror

 I was an ardent fan of Hayley Mills when I was a little girl, briefly considering running off to a nunnery after seeing her in The Trouble With Angels.  Her British accent enchanted me and, bonus of all bonuses, she had blonde eyelashes just like the ones I saw when I looked in the mirror! I still have an eight by ten glossy of her, dressed as Pollyanna, autographed and on display in my kitchen.  It makes me smile.  I look at it and remember who I was.

About a year after my Hayley inspired flirtation with the convent, I saw the movie, Camelot, and became transfixed by Vanessa Redgrave’s portrayal of Queen Guinevere.  Camelot convinced me that I could not possibly become a nun if it meant that a glorious wedding like the one in that movie could never be mine. Indeed, I was so captivated that, many years later, when it came time to design my own wedding, I copied the one on screen shamelessly.  Winter ceremony, tall candles lining the center aisle, soft flowing dress.  No horse to ride away on, but there are only so many things one can do.  I clearly remember how beautiful Vanessa Redgrave was in Camelot; with her magnificent auburn hair and that bewitching medieval wardrobe, she positively shone.

I saw Ms. Redgrave again recently as The Songwriter and I watched her accept a fellowship from Prince William at the BAFTA’s.   Tall, with silver hair pulled back, she took the stage elegantly dressed in black, as regal as the Queen she once played on film.  It was then that The Songwriter said, ”She looks beautiful.  And, isn’t it great that she hasn’t changed her face.  You can still clearly see who she was”.
Oh, what a statement.

Why is it that so often women seem to believe their beauty is diminished when it changes with age?  I know plastic surgery it is a personal subject, but it grieves me when I see once beautiful faces altered beyond all recognition, any remnant of who they once were lost forever.  And really, no one ever looks younger, just different. 
 If someone is blessed with a beautiful face, age cannot steal it.  Anger and fear, jealousy, bitterness.... those are the thieves of beauty, not age.  
 I remember a quote I read several years ago from the actress, Diane Lane.  She said that to get plastic surgery would make her feel as if she needed to apologize for something.  How perfectly put.
I can only hope, as the years roll on, I will continue to gaze in the mirror and see all the girls I used to be - the Hayley Mills fan, the winter bride - all my many incarnations mingling happily together to make me who I am today.

Hayley Mills

"Joy is the best make-up."
Anne Lamott