In a Word ... weight

The disappearing lightness of being

It’s been years since a mirror or weighing scales told me the truth. It’s outrageous that even Boris Johnson might be more honest. Not that I’m in the habit of looking in mirrors. Or, for that matter, of standing on weighing scales.

Snow White would never have been in difficulty had the Evil Queen looked in any of the mirrors that stole across my vision in recent years. In fact, she would never have become the Evil Queen because those damn mirrors would have assured her, always, that she was the fairest of them all.

I mean, whenever my eternally 29-year-old self looks in a mirror — while shaving, for instance — I see my father and traces of uncles in their older years. How can that be? Occasionally, there are hints of my mother in middle-age too, though she never shaved. See what I mean?

I gave up on scales years ago, as you do with anything untrustworthy. You won’t find any scales in my bathroom, ever. Who needs to be told you may have a weight equivalent to that of the Michelin man when it’s so obvious one’s body has remained as svelte as it ever was in the youthful 20s?


And there’s this issue of waistline, shirts and jackets too. I think it has a lot to do with these various new-fangled detergents that clothes seem to shrink so rapidly these days. These may be eco-friendly but what are they doing to fabrics? And what of those added ingredients that make everything so soft and smelling good-as-new after every wash? Surely they have to have a reductive effect on shirts etc with every wash?

Remarkably, they don’t seem to affect socks as much. We really should study why this is so. That way we can establish why shirts in particular shrink so readily in the wash. Whatever research and development programme got to the bottom of that would make a vast fortune.

For now, and to keep the impostor at bay, I only have a shaving mirror in the bathroom. It can be more difficult when out and about passing shop windows. These, in my experience, exaggerate more than do those strange mirrors at showgrounds. I cannot see the point. How does that assist with sales?

Weight, from Old English gewiht, for ‘downward force of a body’.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is Religious Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times