What do you see when you look in the mirror?

This is part 2 of a post about the book About Face.

I said I would follow up with my story about "what I see in the mirror," but I've got to tell you- this was a rough one. I wrote two totally separate versions; one nice, one angry. I choose to post the nice one, with a few angry jabs stuffed in. Here goes;

Who is this freaky chick?*


I can't remember a time that I looked
in the mirror and I did not like what I see.

 Sure, there was the gangling teeth stage,
the teenage zit phase (which has not ended by the way and I am almost
40 for cripes sake), and the post modeling days when I cruised around
in a black baseball hat and baggy clothes in an effort to keep all
eyes OFF of me so I didn't have to live up to everyone's beauty

But all in all, I've never wanted to
change anything about myself.

I am well aware there are way more beautiful
women in the world; those beaming with perfectly
symmetrical faces,
exotic expressions, and sex appeal leaking out of their pores…but I
have never wanted to be someone else.


My nose is kinda crooked, and its
getting bigger with age. We joke my dad that he has a “bulb” at
the end of his nose, just like his mother, and now I see mine growing
slowly but surely. It makes me proud to know, a part of him is now
part of me.

My facial structure is from my mom. I
remember when she came to Paris with me and my agent took one look at
her and said “I see where she gets her high cheekbones from!” My
mom was grinning from ear to ear. We still joke about it, and when
she brings it up kiddingly I say “yeah, yeah….its all because of
you mom.”

My height and big feet are from my
, the one that walked a bit hunched over, but held her head
up high, and didn't take any shit. She lived in the ghetto of
Milwaukee, the only white women among many black families, who
accepted her as one of their own. She was a firecracker, independent
as hell, as she walked the blocks to the bus daily, and never, ever
got mugged (sure, they tried, but she held on to her pocketbook and
told them to get lost). And the tough little punks ran from the
little old lady, with a glare that could knock you sideways. I'd like
to think I also got my spunk from her.


Image Laura Bell Flickr

My features are now passed on to my
. A “mini-me” daughter and my blue-eyed-boy that is going
to give me an ulcer when his hormones kick in. They both were lucky
enough to inherit two very distinct features from my husband –
dimples and flat feet, the true sign of a Blessington.

When I ask my parents what I was like
as a child, they smile and say “you were happy-go-lucky.”

I love that saying, perhaps because I
believe it fits me to this day, and now I see the same quality in my
children which makes me so very proud.

What more could you ask for than to be
happy-go-lucky? A free spirit, born to roam, totally immune to
cultural expectations. Free to just be who you were meant to be
without looking back, without questioning, and without the imaginary
stress the masses carry from day to day.

Perhaps the best part of this quality
is that one doesn't care much about how others view them. Not in a
crass, selfish way, but in a realistic world view way.

 Truth be told, I did spend the bulk of
my twenties ashamed of my beauty.

With beauty comes attention.

With attention comes envy.

With envy comes hurt.

With hurt comes shame.


Who is this sad skinny chick?*

I was shamed for my beauty, made to
feel as if I was somehow selfish for it (actually I should say I was
told point blank I was selfish over and over and over and over until
I started to believe it). I spent some time convinced it was true, until I got smart. This ploy is always just a front to
accommodate the nay-sayers insecurities.

So here I sit, approaching 40 years of
age, still that happy-go-lucky girl that my parents admired, doing
nothing more than looking forward to what the next 40 will bring,
paying no mind to the the signs of aging that will continue to creep
across my face and body, because if I have learned anything at all, I
have learned that you can not get the time back.


Who is this happy, cool chick?*

You live with the memories you create,
the destiny you chase, and the legacy you leave.

And I, for one am enjoying the ride.

Your turn,



Image Info

Freaky chick is me in NY, perhaps during the one and only photo shoot I enjoyed. Wearing a wig was so fun!

Sad, skinny chick is me in gay Parie' way back when. My mom found these images last weekend, they make me sad because I remember it like it was yesterday.

Happy, cool chick is me, now, 39 and feeling fine!

DeLaVega Site

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12 Responses to What do you see when you look in the mirror?

  1. Natalia says:

    I wish I could Be happy-go-lucky.

  2. jalynn says:

    I loved this post thanks MamaV for sharing more of what you see and your take on life.
    I think we all can be more happy go lucky if we just try… even a tiny piece at a time.. your post with pictures and words so very well captures that. I’m not saying it’s easy though. I just think there is sure something to be said or to be lived for beyond what our eyes can sometimes see. You often remind me of this

  3. Michelle says:

    What do I see when I look in the mirror?
    I see a lot of things. Here they are in order:
    I see big, beautiful brown eyes. The eyes that are shared among my family. I once thought I had black eyes because the brown is so intense.
    I then see my smile. Though my front right tooth is chipped a little, and I would totally fix it in a heart beat, I love my smile. My lips are so pretty (when they aren’t chapped! haha) and my teeth (after braces) are wonderfully straight. They aren’t super white, but they look natural. That’s all I care about.
    Next, I look at my hair. My hair is so long right now. It is almost to the small of my back (and I’m a tall girl!). I love it because it is so thick. I donate it almost every other year to Locks of Love, and this year is definitely the year to do that! haha Even though I have split ends sometimes, the way my hair is so versatile (with curling, straightening, up-dos, etc) covers up any flaw.
    Next, I see my skin. I actually don’t like my skin on my face. Though it is clearing up, it never seems to clear up fast enough for me. I also have dark circles under my eyes. I guess those are almost guaranteed with college.. work, school and extracurricular activities, there just aren’t enough hours in the day for sleep!
    Looking deeper that just the surface, I see a woman. I see a woman who has been through a lot in her life. A woman who never thought she would be as happy as she is today. A woman who always held fast to her morals. A woman who is stronger. A woman who had to be who she was to become who is she now.
    Get that?
    I had to be who I was before…
    to become the woman I LOVE today.
    I see someone who is capable of anything and everything that she puts her mind to.
    I see someone who will never fail.
    I see someone who may disappoint, but will always be forgiven.
    I love myself.
    For sure.

  4. pageantL says:

    (my favorite post)

  5. Susan says:

    Today’s post most certainly further brightened my upbeat Thursday. Thank you mamaV for this post that shows transformation, acceptance, and wisdom.

  6. lmike says:

    mama v,
    i respect your blog and follow it daily. this in general is one of my favorite posts.
    however i am really offended by your section on your grandmother. You were very successful in describing her as a tough strong woman but i wish you would have used another way.
    the idea of being the only white woman and how “they” accepted her as one of their own is creating the exact us vs. them mentality that promotes racism. also the idea that it would have been expected for her to be mugged perpetuates these stereotypes.
    I do think you could have described the conditions as run down, poor and dangerous and had the same success. instead you only stated that the area was where black people lived.
    please be more racially conscious in your posts. i am not saying that you yourself think less of other races( i particularly liked your post on the richness of an African American’s skin- well done) However it is important to watch connections that perpetuate prejudice.

  7. shelly says:

    Overall, I think this is a very uplifting post, but I do have one question…you say you always liked what you saw in the mirror, then why did you develop an ED? If it was purely for modeling and to get jobs, why did you not say f. you, I am not changing…I like what I see and get out of it? I know you did, but why not sooner? I know that when I am struggling with my ED it is because I see something I dont like (yes, also I hate what is on the inside) and want to change it….
    I was just curious…

  8. mamaV says:

    Dear lmike: I have to apologize, I agree with everything you stated- and it didn’t even dawn on me how I was perpetuating a stereotype in this post. I am so very sorry for offending you and anyone else who felt the same way.
    A few comments;
    The reason I stated “all black neighborhood” is because I always thought it was awesome that the families didn’t treat my Grandma or us as visitors as different….she was just part of the neighborhood, and many looked out for her (keep in mind this was 20-30 years ago, I would believe these relationships are more commonplace these days…at least I would hope so). I say this to express why I even stated race in the first place.
    In regards to the mugging, I have no idea whether the youths were white or black. My Grandma worked in Downtown Milwaukee. And now that I think of it I am not sure if this incident occured in her neighborhood or downtown, I’ll have to ask my dad. Regardless, race was not even in my head when I wrote it, but I certainly understand why you interpreted this as you did.
    Again lmike, I am sorry for this…I will watch my words more closely in the future.
    Take care,

  9. mamaV says:

    Hi Shelly: I wish like hell I would have sad f you….trust me I have thought about it often.
    I lasted about a year in Paris, before jumping ship. In that year, I was also told to get breast implants, which I rejected and caught hell for. I was told to take my clothes off, which I rejected and was called a prude beause of it.
    But on the weight thing, I would say I expected and understood this requirement came with the territory but I didn’t understand at what level nor how hard it would be. When I arrived in Paris, I figured I was at the weight they wanted since they scouted me from NY. The moment I got there, the message to ALL girls was lose weight, so I just went with it. Then it never stopped, again naively I thought “ok, a few pounds, no problem,” and went along to find no weight was low enough.
    Odd thing is – I was reading my journal from back then (remember this was my perspective as a 16 year old) and I was kind of cocky. I wrote about how all the other girls had no willpower, and how I was essentially “really good” at restricting (which was the norm, not treated as a negative by anyone, imagine an environment where everyone is applauding your efforts as you are vanishing…way different than the real world).
    Bottomline – I wanted it. I wanted to be a model, that is why I was there. Today I am embarrassed that was my goal – but hindsight is 20/20.
    Thanks for asking :)

  10. mamaV says:

    Wow Michelle…you have come so far! You should be so very proud of yourself, I admire your strength and character!
    Keep at it,

  11. Shauna says:

    Hello everyone. Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain.
    I am from Laos and also now teach English, tell me right I wrote the following sentence: “By using a lesbian romance to portray universal feelings of longing and.”
    With best wishes :(, Shauna.

  12. Marjorie says:

    Excuse me. The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found.
    I am from Arabia and learning to write in English, please tell me right I wrote the following sentence: “Their complaint makes promotion, profit, manager, and entire known comparisons.”
    Waiting for a reply ;-), Marjorie.

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