Sneak Peek: You Look Fine, Really

Read an excerpt from this hilarious book of essays.

By Christie Mellor

Magnifying Mirrors: A Necessary Horror

A magnifying mirror is indispensable to have on hand when you need to take a closer look. It will aid you in removing an eyelash stuck in your eye, it will help you when you want to remove a few stray hairs from your eyebrow area, or check out that weird red spot in the middle of your forehead. However, one may take the magnifying mirror-gazing too far. It’s easy to start out with the “how did those three hairs get on my chin!

Oh my god, have I been walking around like that?” and wind up staring in horror as we discover new lines, new veins shot through our eyes, hairs coming out of moles we’ve never seen before, and mustaches we never knew we had.

Yes, it’s helpful for applying eyeliner, but just remember, before you fall down the rabbit hole of magnification, that you don’t need to use your magnifying mirror to apply the rest of your makeup. Your friends, in all likelihood, do not have X-ray vision. Many of them are incrementally losing their eyesight, just like you. Those who still have the perfect use of their eyes are probably not going to use their gift of sight to inspect your upper lip, unless you have accidentally left some food there.

Presumably no one is looking at you with a magnifying glass. If they are inspecting you with a magnifying glass, they probably wear a tweed hat and call themselves Sherlock. Your friends and acquaintances won’t necessarily focus obsessively on that one area between your eyebrows, even though you may be spending hours in that very pursuit. People generally tend to take in the whole picture.

Think of yourself as a lovely impressionist painting. People, by and large, don’t stare at the brushstrokes in one corner of the canvas; they stand back and assess the painting. When people look at you, they will notice the whole pleasing effect of your features working together. They’ll probably notice how your eyes crinkle up in a lovely way when you smile, and how your hair looks nice like that, and what a good laugh you have. They will probably be more interested in what you’re saying than how your makeup is applied, although if it looks as if you applied it with a trowel, they may notice that. You don’t need to apply your makeup with a trowel, and if you don’t stare too long in the magnifying mirror you’ll apply it with a much lighter hand. Step away from the magnifying mirror.

Instead, give yourself a brief overview in a regular mirror, preferably one with a natural light source nearby. Of course use the magnifying mirror, if you need it; but use it judiciously. Make it your friend. It will be there for you when you need to do the detail-oriented stuff, but do not let it mesmerize you into thinking that your eyebrows could really use some plucking, because what looks like “really could use some plucking” to a magnifying mirror looks like regular eyebrows to a real mirror. And if you believe the magnifying mirror, you will find yourself with two very thin, very surprised-looking arches hovering above your lovely eyes. So, don’t use the magnifying mirror to shape your eyebrows, only to get a few stray hairs.

Magnifying mirrors are handy, however; I treasure mine, and wish I could find a small one to take with me when I travel, because they’re especially useful if you’re away from home and out of your usual routine. Things start . . . growing in places. Things do perhaps need a little plucking and trimming and taming. But restrain your hand, and don’t be overzealous with the plucking. Remember that to normal eyes, you look fine, really.

Excerpted from You Look Fine, Really by Christie Mellor (HarperCollins). 

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