Friday, June 13, 2008

New Book: About Face

This month Seal Press offers up another new anthology, About Face: Women Write about What They See When They Look in the Mirror, edited by Anne Burt and Christina Baker Kline. In this one, 24 women of varying ages (23 to 75) and races brave a standoff with their reflections. From the book's description:
From lines to wrinkles, dark circles to freckles, a woman’s face tells the unique story of her life. In many ways it’s a roadmap — with each singular characteristic, crease, and blemish serving as a milestone of having lived, loved, and endured....In the essay “On Reflection,” contributor Patricia Chao stares at herself and dares to ponder who she is when she is not being loved or desired by a man. In “My Celebrity Face,” Alice Elliott Dark must endure hearing her college crush tell her that she looks like the man on the Quaker Oats box. This leads her to a life filled contradictions — but ultimately ends in contentment with the woman she’s become....About Face dares women to look at themselves — no flinching or turning away; no poses, and no excuses. Both challenging and warm, About Face will inspire women to examine their faces, flaws and all, and to learn to love what they see.
And hey wow: celebrity makeup artist Bobbi Brown wrote the foreword. Essayists include Jennifer Baumgardner, Bobbi Brown, Kristin Buckley, Marina Budhos, Patricia Chao, Alice Elliott Dark, Susan Davis, Louise DeSalvo, Bonnie Friedman, Kathryn Harrison, Annaliese Jakimides, Dana Kinstler, Benilde Little, Meredith Maran, Manijeh Nasrabadi, Ellen Papazian, Kym Ragusa, Jade Sanchez-Ventura, Pamela Redmond Satran, Rory Satran, Alix Kates Shulman, Catherine Texier, S. Kirk Walsh, and Kamy Wicoff.

Had I been writing an essay for this one (ahem! kidding. sort of), I would have written about my nose and teeth and ears -- all of which caused me great suffering as a teenager. Right through the eighth grade, a mean boy named Jeff Foy called me, alternatingly, Bugs Bunny, Dumbo, and The Beak. Didn't seem to help me to know that everyone called him Jeff Foy the Toy Boy. Yep, Jeff suffered too.

Anyway, as I was explaining just yesterday to a beautiful and dear friend, when your physical appearance was made fun of as a kid, that feeling of ugliness gets internalized. It's often very hard to wish away. Adolescence may be time-limited, but that sense that there is something wrong with you persists. Shout outs to college, college therapists, and college boyfriends -- all of whom, in my case, helped me face that self-doubt and feel better about, well, my face.

I look forward to reading this book! Would any GWP reader like to offer up a guest review? Email me at and we'll arrange.

1 comment:

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