In my late teens, early 20's, if asked to list my best physical attributes, it would have looked something like this (in no particular order):
1) thin ankles and wrists (Olivia Newton John has cankles, and watching Grease was when I first thanked God for my break-like-a-twig joints)
2) long, slender legs (a boyfriend once wrote a romantic poem about them, which was ironic because when he dumped me in my senior year of college, my mom took me to Florida for Spring Break, and I got sun poisoning on my legs so bad that I couldn't move them. After that ill-fated, baby-oil-slathered, sunbathing-to-burn-out-the-hurt day, the rest of my time there was spent in an oatmeal bath or walking to dinner on legs that didn't bend, a comical entrance that I'm sure wasn't lost on the beautiful sun-kissed Spring Breakers who, when I walked in the room, could smell the brokenness)
3) a great head of straight, golden blonde long hair (I entered the Clairol Long & Silky Conditioner long hair contest when I was about 13; my mom took pix in the backyard and I wore an ivory, Mandarin-collared, short-sleeved top with embroidered flowers and green piping and a pair of Calvin Klein yeast-infection-inducing jeans; I heard crickets after submitting my entry, my one chance at achieving popularity gone)
4) pretty teeth (never wore braces, but as a little kid I remember bending paper clips into crescents and putting them on my upper ivories to pretend I did; this was right up there with wearing Bugles as fake fingernails)
5) superb arches (there's never been a doubt in my mind that a killer arch makes the foot)
These days I couldn't even come close to creating a list of my best physical attributes. The list is more like "Things About Myself That I Can Slightly Stomach, If I Look in the Mirror During a Heavy Fog." I keep the list-making to groceries, to do's, and movies to add to my NetFlix queue. Sometime in my late thirties I did make the list that all single females are encouraged to write — what I want in a mate. You know, the list to ponder and pen, then hide away for only you and God to know about. Lordy, I think I may have thrown mine away, which surely God took as a cue to focus His efforts on some other middle-aged lady who's jonesin' for a husband.
Anywho, back to my body. The list du jour is what I would want to fix (through exercise — yuk, plastic surgery — yukkier, or camouflage/coverage — burka). Dimpled thighs, saggy breasts, flabby arms, mottled and wrinkled skin, big gut, back fat, shelf butt, stray facial hairs, skin tags, varicose veins ASIDE, there has GOT to be a way to minimize my family of chins in pictures. Every doggone snapshot of Dawn E. Girl has my goofy smiling mug cradled in a hammock of jolliness. Even when I think I'm jutting my jaw in an exaggerated fashion to make the plural chins singular, there it is, as distracting as red-eye, and much harder to fix than a dot of black Sharpie on a red circle.
I met a woman once, a mom of a co-worker, who, when a camera pointed her way, would bring her open hand up under her chin, and with the entire length of her forefinger would push her neck fat back and smile as if the hand below her chin were merely a fashion accessory like a scarf or a trendy, chunky necklace. I gave her props, though. She never had to look at her double chin in pictures.
This past weekend at my goddaughter's baptism the cameras were a clickin' and Harleigh, knowing my quest for the single-chin shot, kept directing "jut your jaw out, mom, stick your head out, tighten your neck muscles" and whatever else she could think of other than what I was thinking: will double chins ever come into fashion as we begin to embrace the fuller-figure woman as the norm? But I jutted, stuck and tightened as if my life depended on it. And my daughter and I, at the end of day, looked at the pictures, and there they were . . . chin x 2. Bless her heart, Harleigh squeezed my arm and said, "mom, your skin tone looks sooooooo good with your hair color." And there it was. That's what we girls do. We focus on whatever good there is, regardless of how inconsequential it seems. And for a short time — all we really need in fact — we revel in it.
And so, on the eve of turning 53, I begin the list of my best physical attributes, 1) if there were a contest for the best pairing of skin tone and hair color, I'd win hands down and be the most popular girl in the world.