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The perception of aging and the difficulty in recognizing one's reflection in the mirror

Inspired by the poetry of Cecília Meireles and the magic of the world in Alice in Wonderland, the aging explores the duality between the mind and the body.

Birthday Reflections

I've never been one to make reflections on my birthday, but lately, it's been happening. I'm about to turn 64, but I feel like I'm 35! It's true, age doesn't exist in our minds. However, often I don't recognize my reflection in the mirror. In my body, I still feel the energy of my 40s, I have the strength of my 30s, the maturity of my 50s, and the zest for life of my 20s.

two woman and a mirror

The Reflection on the Reflection

I often remember the poetry of Cecília Meireles, "Retrato," where she asks the question: "Em qual espelho ficou retida a minha face?" This question resonates deeply in this new phase of self-discovery. As the years progress, I don't recognize my physical reflection. It's easy and cliché to think that my new face carries the wisdom of the years lived, the maturity exercised with courage, or that each wrinkle bears a story. Although all of this is true, I don't find a connection with the image I would like to have. Not that I'm someone dissatisfied with aging, quite the opposite, I see numerous advantages in this phase compared to youth, countless ones. However, there is indeed a phase of mental adaptation, as the brain struggles to recognize the aging of the body.

I wonder: am I the only person who feels this way? I believe not. One of the studies on self-image and aging shows that many women report having weight-related issues, revealing an unfavorable perception of aging. In this study, it was found that women are aware of their aging, their age, and the bodily transformations during this process; however, they feel dissatisfied with their body image and tend to believe that aging has a negative impact on their lives.*

In my personal opinion, one of the biggest problems regarding aging is 'romanticizing' this phase. Embracing maturity with courage is one thing, but the ideology that "we need to embrace the word 'old' and aging" is another. (sigh!)

Is it really so?

Cecília Meireles' Reflection

Cecília Meireles gave an expanded meaning to this phase in her poem "Retrato," reflecting on identity and the passage of time. She is surprised when faced with her reflected image in the mirror, the apparent absence of vitality, the bitterness on her lips, the hands without strength, motionless and cold, and a heart that conceals more than it reveals.

I believe this same feeling of perplexity before the passage of time happens to many people. It is real, inevitable, and inexorable, but it becomes an invitation to question our true identity.

What does time define?

The ephemerality of time is a reality, but the word "age" doesn't define it, for youth is not a matter of chronological time; it's a matter of soul, projects, perspectives, and dreams. While we dream and make plans, our spirit impels us to explore the unknown and celebrate our existence.

But we look in the mirrors!

However, we must look through the mirrors, just like Alice in her Wonderland. And enter a charming, surreal place, full of characters, enigmas, and absurd situations. It's peeping through the rabbit hole and diving into a new reality, brimming with new perspectives and rules that don't apply to the previous routine. It's also delighting in what's fluid, illogical, and full of contradictions.

It's not accepting the changes, but creating a new scenario.

Perhaps this explains a little the concept of "Vintage Adolescent": allowing the imagination, creativity, and crazy projects that exist in adolescence to be present in this new stage of life, revealing the satisfaction of overcoming new challenges.

Retrato [Cecília Meireles]

Eu não tinha este rosto de hoje,

I didn't have this face of today, assim calmo, assim triste, assim magro,

so calm, so sad, so thin, nem estes olhos tão vazios,

nor these eyes so empty, nem o lábio tão amargo.

nor the lips so bitter.

Eu não tinha estas mãos tão sem força,

I didn't have these hands so weak, Tão paradas e frias e mortas;

so motionless and cold and dead; Eu não tinha este coração

I didn't have this heart Que nem se mostra.

that doesn't even show itself.

Eu não dei por esta mudança,

I didn't notice this change, Tão simples, tão certa, tão fácil:

so simple, so certain, so easy:

- Em que espelho ficou retida a minha face?

- In which mirror was retained

my face?

Viagem (1939)

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