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January 22, 2010

The Shock! The Horror! The Magnifying Mirror.

The Shock!  The Horror!  The Magnifying Mirror.

By Kathy Sweeney

Blog mag mirror eye  I had a small magnifying mirror.  It was a regular mirror on one side and a 2X mirror on the other.  I used it mainly to check to see if my eyes were irritated because of allergies, or because there was something in them.  Like an eyelash or a 2X4.  After many years of good service, it died.  So I asked for a new one.

There it was, Christmas morning - exactly what I asked for! Isn't it great when that happens?  This one was bigger, and it had 8X magnification.  Has to be great, right?  I could do my own Lasik surgery with this bad boy.

I plugged it in, flipped it to the 8X side and nearly had a stroke.  What the hell was in there?  Was I looking at part of my own face, or some kind of topographical map?  I mean, I had a flashback to the Air and Space museum and the lunar landing exhibit.

My first instinct was to get rid of whatever all that stuff was - by whatever means possible.  Luckily, one of the kids called me, and I was distracted.  Otherwise, I fear it would have been like taking a garden weasel to a hard wood floor.

Blog mag mirror faceAs a public service to all of you, I am telling you flat out - back away from the magnifying mirrors.  Human skin is a complex thing, even if one is blessed with no real dermatological issues.  My skin breaks out, but I've been lucky enough not to have the kind of acne or other conditions that can make life unbearable.  Still - my face is not exactly a smooth spanse of dewy loveliness.  It's more like one of those relief maps you got in junior high earth science.  You know, the ones you poke underneath with a pencil when the teacher isn't looking. Which reminds me of our science teacher.  We called him the Supernova because his pants were so tight we were afraid they would explode. Yeah.

Blog mustache magnum  Here is another thing you need to know - the human body is covered with fine hair.  Including the upper lip. One look in the 8X and I was convinced I'd been walking around with Yosemite Sam on my face, and was immediately pissed that no one told me about it.  That episode of 30 Rock where Liz Lemon lets hers grow in (she calls it Tom Selleck) resounded with me like a sonic boom.  My immediate instinct was to find either a razor or create a make-shift burka to get to the store for hair remover, then just cover my entire face in a last ditch effort to avoid being mistaken for the Wolfman.  And not the cute Michael J. Fox one, either - although it would be nice to be able to dunk a basketball for the first time in my life.

I mean, some of my relatives (especially on the Italian/Sicilian side) have the moustache - and I'm talking the females here.  I don't have a hang-up about it, I just don't want to be mistaken for Willie Nelson, y'know? Turns out that yes - there is hair on my upper lip - the same kind that's on all my skin.  But it's not the makings of a Fu Manchu.  You can barely notice it with regular human eyes.  Thank God no one really has the Steve Austin bionic eye, though.  And I'm pretty sure a career in HD film or TV is out.  I can live with that.  My bottom teeth are crooked anyway (am I the only one who started noticing all the bad bottom teeth when TV went HD?  I'll bet orthodontists in New York and LA are doing a landslide business).

As far as the rest of the lunar - I mean facial - landscape, it's weird.  The face has all kinds of marks and scars and wrinkles that you can only see if you are dumb enough to spend time in front of this not-so-fun-house mirror.  It is damn near impossible not to pick at the stuff, regardless of what it is.  Before you bring out the back hoe or the combine, be sure it's not just a piece of glitter from taking ornaments off the Christmas tree. I almost embedded that thing into my chin just trying to figure out what it was.

Frankly, I'm having a small panic attack just re-living this whole experience.  So here is my advice - no one needs to get that close a view of anything, okay?  Particularly your own face.  That's why we have arms - to keep people from seeing too much. You need to trust the people around you to tell you if there is something on your face that needs attention if you miss it yourself in a normal mirror check.  I pledge to all of you on TLC that if I see you with something on your face that doesn't belong there, I will tell you immediately.  Unless it's another human, in which case I'm just looking the other way.

Better to leave some things a mystery.  Just saying.


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I gave away a nice makeup mirror with adjustable lights and a magnifying side for grooming. It just seemed like one more thing that would break in the move, and the friend who was helping me is in a theater group. I haven't missed it much.

Oh thank you for the laugh at 12:30 a.m. The sad part is I felt like you had been looking over my shoulder as you wrote this. I've just come out of the bathroom where I was looking in a magnifying mirror wondering if five hairs grow back for every one you pull out from around your lips. The really sad part is I can't give up my magnifying mirror because I can't see well enough with the regular mirror to put on my makeup in the morning. Getting older is not what I thought it would be. Oh well, guess it's still better than the alternative. :) Thanks again for the laugh.

Mason - you are welcome. I laughed myself. Stopped wearing make up years ago, so I don't have that issue.

Mary - I had one of those when I did wear make up. You could change the lighting. What a crock of shit.

Basically, I don't really give a damn what I look like, but for some bizarre reason, this mirror calls to me like a siren of the sea. I blame that Zuckerman guy at NBC. And my parents, of course. The wouldn't let me go to the Vo Tech and be a beautician.

Too, too funny Kathy! It's almost impossible for me to see those stray chin hairs because they're (gasp!) white. What's even worse is I have an awful time trying to pluck them out because everything is backwards when I look in the mirror. As far as I'm concerned, magnifying mirrors just magnify faults. Wrinkles look like canyons and blackheads look like boulders. Somehow it doesn't seem fair to have both wrinkles and pimples. Hmm--I'm showing my age here: pimples isn't a word you hear much anymore. It's blemishes or zits now, isn't it?

Hooray for you for not wearing makeup. I don't wear it around the house much anymore, but I don't leave the house without it because I feel more confident when I put my best face forward. I do find that the older I get, the more subtle my makeup is. I tend to choose softer colors with no shimmer or shine. It takes a lot of makeup to look natural! Of course, that's because now I have to draw in every other eyebrow hair (where do they go, anyway?) and apply at least 2 coats of mascara before my eyelashes even show up. Hair grows where I don't want it and disappears from where I do.

Now, let's talk about shaving our legs. Don't hold back, guys!

I have enough trouble with a regular mirror, no way would I even glance into a Magnifying Mirror. The regular mirror betrayed me many years ago. I woke up, went to shave, and bit back a yell when I saw my father standing there. Never have quite figured out where I went, but that sure wasn't ME in the mirror. The guy looking back at me was Old. And Balding. And had GRAY HAIR. And had GRAY in his BEARD.

A frightening resemblance to my father. Still not certain who the intruder was, but it sure as hell wasn't me....

I use the magnifying mirror because I'm BLIND. So I've been used to the horror show.

But I gotta tell you, since the coming of HD television, I have been ducking various opportunities to do TV interviews. I'm afraid I'll look like the aged lovechild of Larry King and Elizabeth Taylor!

At a recent trip to Target, I decided to look at the magnifying mirrors. I was so tramatized by what I saw in the mirror, I decided I didn't need one after all. No one should see that much detail.

Thanks for making me laugh so hard!

I haven't used a magnifying mirror in years -- a magnifying glass, yes, I'm terribly grateful more and more frequently for those.
I try to remember to put on a little makeup when I go out. I only have the half of my eyebrows closest to my nose, so I often look surprised unless I brush on the 'wings'. And I try to use some concealer under my eyes as I have Edward Gorey dark circles under them.

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmthose little silver hair on the face are the pits....tee-hee

My change is the eyelashes. I still have a little box of the eyelashes I wore in the 70's-----yeh---what for? I know I will never wear them again and shudder at the thought that I could put them on at 5AM to face my day at one time.
Either bliferitis(eyelash infection) or chemo left me with a scant number. And now there are the actresses in the commercials claiming unatural results from a very costly, special formula mascara or even (GASP)an Rx for little pills that will grow the eyelashes! Any thoughts/advice? Maybe getting rid of mirrors is a good idea.

Mirrors in general are all wrong. No wonder they're covered during Shiva. I threw out my magnifying mirror because it made me look 72. Low light. Candles. These are our friends, people, not the mirrors at JC Penney with the hideous lighting. Not the magnifying mirrors in our bathrooms.

Burkas are sounding better and better with each passing day.

Mary Alice, may I have those eyelashes? An unfortunate accident with a seam ripper left me with a small scar and a small bald spot in my right eyebrow. I'm thinking I could glue a few of your old eyelashes over the bald spot. Apparently they don't make spray eyebrow hair in a can.

I've never had a magnifying mirror; my regular mirror has gotten scary enough. On the days when I wear makeup (i.e., when I have to entertain - er, teach - 300+ students in a large lecture hall), I'm perfectly happy that I must take off my glasses to do it and can't get close enough to a mirror after I put them on to really see what I look like.

Sarah, I like your approach. Low light and candles - that's the ticket. No burkas for me, though, thankyouverymuch!

I have a 5X, which is 'bad' enough. I also had LASIK a number of years ago and the biggest side-effect was that I had to clean the damn shower all the time. Who knew it got so dirty?

A magnifying mirror is kind of like getting a new passport. That old lady in the picture can't possibly be the same one in the old passport. It's only been 10 years.

And scary -- when we move, I'll have to get a new driver's license. My current one has a photo of me taken in 1989. Yep -- 20+ years ago.

I inherited my mother's magnifying mirror, and it is now an antique, with only 2x magnification. That is enough. Still plenty of magnification to highlight scars of unknown origin, dark spots of mystery, more pores than I think I need, and crazy rogue eyebrows long enough to tangle in my eyelashes. I am always relieved when I flip the mirror back to normal mode.

As for shaving--if you hear of a woman who bled to death in the shower, unaware of a gaping wound on the back of her calf, caused by trying to rush through the whole awful shaving process--that'll be me.

Oh, Kathy. I have The Mirror, with 3 kinds of magnification and 3 light settings. I think that in L.A., for everyone over the age of 30, it's the Law. Like wearing a seatbelt and only watering your lawn twice a week.

Recently I noticed the perfect tri-fecta of acne, new facial hair in wrong places, and old eyebrows going white. What I want to know is, when are female mustaches going to come into fashion? Isn't it time?

OH, please please please. I can't live without my magnifying mirror, because I think I have to get to the "situations" first or everyone will see them. If I had to be on a desert island, what would I take? TWEEZERS.

They don't tell you this stuff.

I also need it because I am so incapable of seeing close up that I can't put on eyeliner without it. (I know, you're saying, forget about the eyeliner. HAH. I'm all HDTV, all the time. Bring on the eyelashes.)

Ok, I confess. I use a 15X mirror every morning. I realize no one can see those itty bitty dark hairs except me in the mirror but I don't want them to either. My tweezers and my mirror are my security blanket. Plus I find that by putting on my makeup with that gargantuan magnification mirror I have a much lighter touch with everything and yet still have put the "war paint" on. Everyday. I have those deep-set narrow little eyes that without painting them on it's as though there is a blank screen just above my nose and lips.

Shaving the legs is a whole other thing, in the winter that is. I live in pants for the most part and am more about getting into and out of the shower as quickly as possible.

However! On the other hand. One good thing about getting old is that although I can see all the dots and speckles and weird stuff on my face, I know my husband can't. If he's across the table, he's too nearsighted to see the specifics.

And if he's really close, he's too close. At which point it doesn't matter anyway.

I have a lighted mirror that flips from normal to magnified. I don't know how many Xs it magnifies to - certainly not 8. That's just torturing yourself.

I use the normal side to put my make-up on. I only flip to magnify to pluck the hairs from my chinny chin chin or my eyebrows. I studiously avoid looking at anything else while using that side.

Hank, God love you for facing cameras every day. But you're gorgeous, so it's a treat for everyone else.

Soooo....you guys made me run in and look into my 2X. It's a little round stick up one I have on the window. Real daylight makes a big difference. Trust me people!
The down side or maybe the up side of working at home is not looking at yourself for days. Unless I run out of thread or wine I don't leave the house. No menfolk to impress so haven't shaved for a year. More hair on your face less on your legs and pits. Nobody has stopped me and mentioned anything about it.
And I tend to do all my make-up days for one long string of events. If I have a rehearsal or an audition that's the day I do all the shopping and errands since you can't step out the door to walk the dog in Miami Springs without bumping into some one you know. I've actually saved money because I don't as use much makeup any more on a daily basis.
It's the tweezers that are the bain of my existence. You finally find a pair that actually pulls out a hair and then the tweezer thiefs get wind of it and come in the night and steal them. There is probably a special line at the metal meltdown place on the river for tweezer stealers!
I'm reminded of a line from the Nanny where she says to her mother "You can look like ZZ Top before I pluck another chin hair for you!".
That's what friends are for!
I also tend to notice my roots with the baby hubble. Another story for another day.
Just saying

Bonnie Hunt had a good dating tip this morning, "Don't shave your legs before a first date. It will keep you from doing something stupid like jumping into bed with someone you just met!"
The only magnifying mirror I have now is a little 3" 2x that was a freebie from Clinique and I only use it for mascara, which ain't very often.

My eyes rejected all eye makeup long ago, but I'll do light powder/blush/lipstick if I have a storytelling job -- don't need magnification of that.
Passport -- reminded me of one trip with a several-years-old passport. The young lady checking i.d.s looked uncertainly from photo to me. I took off my glasses, lifted my face a bit (a la "Home Alone") and smiled -- she nodded and returned my passport to me.
Our license bureau just gave me a little piece of paper for my address change, no new photo until the license expires . . .
** I just got a renewal form for my personalized license plate and had to decide if it's worth $15/year to keep 2RS UMN (I decided yes, just because I can remember it so easily). Dare you to figure it out!

To err is human! :)

I'm with Terry, I had Lasik over 10 years ago and the first thing I realized was that I could no longer see up close to tweeze my eyebrows, Argh. Got a 5X mirror and all is well. I don't wear make-up so like to at least have nice eyebrows.

I have told my friends that if I ever go into a coma someone better come to visit at least once a damn week and do my eyebrows. If I wake up to bush brows I will be very upset.

As for those chin hairs, what do they root them in China, those things are easy to feel but hard to find and take some bicep strength to pull out.

And why do the white eyebrow hairs grow 1/4 inch longer than all the other hairs?

Hank has it right, there isn't life without tweezers.

In BC we have to get our drivers licenses renewed every 5 years with a new picture. The latest one looks like it was taken through the bottom of a glass . . .

Brava, Laura!! Only a dozen or so people have ever figured it out, and they needed hints. My sister composed it for me when I said it would be impossible to do with only six ciphers. My first choice was 2BR NOT, but some other English or theater teacher must have snagged that one . . .

Because of menopause & thyroid issues, I shed from my head...badly. For about two weeks it drove me crazy because I couldn't get the hair that kept getting into my eyes. When I FINALLY caught the little bugger, I found it was attached to my forehead. I measured it after I pulled it...7 freakin' inches long!

One of my favorite movie scenes in is "My Big Fat Greek Wedding". The aunt using tweezers on her mother's face while she is giving the "talk" about the wedding night..."Greek women are tigers in bed". "Ewwww"


I know someone who used that eyelash growing prescription. She got brown spots on the whites of her eyeballs. Her doctor told her they might not fade and would not go away. Don't think I'll be trying it. What a choice. On one hand we have skimpy eyelashes. On the other hand we have brown spotted eyeballs. Which one would you choose?

False Eyelashes if I get desperate, Janis. Not messing with my eyes. They're the only ones I have, thankyouverymuch. So far I have been blessed with long, rather thick for my age eyelashes even if they are set back into my head 6 inches...deep-set eyes you know.

Having made peace with the up close and personal mirror nothing prepared me for the full-length reflection that I saw staring at me in the mall. Walking merrily along with my older daughter I saw this older woman in the decorative mirror staring at me with a shocked expression. I stared right back and said silently "Are you looking at me?" No way was I going to admit that I was looking at myself. Uh,uh. No,No, No WAy! What happened to the cute young mother who had turned into a MATURE matron? YAK!

I second Xena on the natural light thing. I keep my tweezers in the van and tweeze while I'm waiting to pick up children. I get a few weird looks from the other parents, but I'm ok with that!

Ms. Sweeney, I second your advice on avoiding too great a magnification! Although I need a bit of magnification to seek out those obnoxious chin hairs, a mirror with too-strong magnification will have you injuring your skin and decimating one of your natural immune protections: those downy fine hairs that are clearly visible on the faces of babies, small children, healthy adults, etc., are part of your skin's defense, and should not be removed! This is different than the out-of-place darker, thicker hairs which tend to stray when hormones are confused or diminishing. If you must pluck any one area thoroughly or consistently, please apply a soothing protective salve after doing so, in order to let your pores shrink and heal and prevent infection (which many misinterpret as blemishes) or clogged pores resulting in blackheads, etc.
Best advice a dermatologist ever gave: the skin on your face is the most delicate on your body--treat it with great gentleness and care.

One of the stars of the tv show THE HILLS admitted that she had ten plastic surgery procedures in ONE day. When being interviewed as to whether she thought that she was addicted to plastic surgery she told the reporter that because she had all the procedures in ONE day she concluded that she was not addicted. It boggles the mind that she would risk her life to meet self-imposed beauty standards. Maybe the average people could be happy with sags and bags after all.

Having had a bit of reconstructive facial surgery due to a spot of basal cell, I can categorically say, "IT HURTS!!!" I can't imagine doing it without a darned good reason, and erasing years I've been fortunate enough to have lived wouldn't qualify as a reason.

Have you noticed the extreme closeups they use on TV interviews? I see that and think yuck... why do they think anyone wants to see the ugly pores? It makes me as uncomfortable as I am when someone gets up to my face in a conversation--invading my space. I feel no need for my 15 seconds of fame, and I keep the embarrassing closeups to myself.

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