What I learned from not looking at myself in the mirror for a week
Ask yourself this: How do I feel when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror?
For most people, the answer varies from time to time. If you’re all dolled up in your favorite outfit and ready to go out on the town, you are probably feeling very confident. But if you are tired and stressed from a long day of work, those dark circles under your eyes may seem darker than usual. When you look in the mirror, the reflection you see is often a better indicator of how you are feeling on the inside rather than how you look on the outside.
We have become a society that is preoccupied with outward appearance and concerned with constructed standards of beauty. We spend hours critiquing our bodies, our faces and our skin in the mirror, focusing in on any and every little flaw. We keep mental lists of all the things we would change about ourselves if we had the chance. And to be quite frank, I’m sick and tired of all of it.
What if we decided to stop paying attention? What if I decided that when I look in the mirror, I want to focus on the sun streaks in my hair, the dimples in my cheeks and the friendly smile that is always on my face. Yes, I have small blemishes on my face and oily skin. Yes, I have scars and freckles scattered across my body. But I can accept all of these imperfections because I love who I am, regardless of what I look like.
Mirrors shouldn’t have the power to scare us. They are nothing more than reflective surfaces. Yet, so many people are afraid that their reflections will confirm their deepest insecurities. Ironically, these same people are even more terrified of living lives without mirrors and of going whole days without checking their appearances.
On multiple occasions, I have advised friends to take a step away from the mirror and to allow themselves to let go of the pressure of maintaining the “perfect” image. Since I’m not one to talk the talk without walking the walk, I decided to take my own advice and step away from mirrors for one week. I wanted to put my self-confidence to the test. For a whole week, I only allowed myself to use a mirror once a day when I was getting ready in the morning. I didn’t check throughout the day to see if my mascara had smeared or if my face was starting to look oily. And to be completely honest, it was liberating.
I never realized how dependent I was on mirrors. I was so accustomed to checking my hair or makeup in the mirror whenever I walked into a bathroom. But once I stopped checking on my appearance so frequently throughout the day, I realized that worrying about what I looked like didn’t really cross my mind. When I stopped judging myself, I stopped feeling like I was being judged by other people.
I realize that a world without mirrors is unrealistic and that going on a “mirror fast” isn’t for everyone. But I do hope that more people can learn to embrace their reflections. When someone looks into the mirror, I hope they will thank their body for all that it does. I hope they will focus on the things they love about themselves rather than focusing on their imperfections. I hope people will be able to look into a mirror and confidently say, “Mirror, mirror on the wall. You do not define me, not at all.”
Originally published on HelloFlo.