Blogger Autumn Whitefield-Madrano, of The Beheld, isn’t looking in the mirror for a month. The former women’s magazine staffer originally went on a “mirror fast” for a month in May 2011, and she’s decided to do it again this year. Could you go mirror-free for a month?
The Beheld is a blog about “beauty, and what it means,” and Autumn’s first month without mirrors was designed as a way to challenge her reliance on her own self-image, and lessen the self-consciousness associated with that image. Brave and thought-provoking, right? The original series on her blog is amazingly fascinating. She covered her mirror with a shroud, turned away from her reflection at the gym, and even shopped for clothes without once peeking at a dressing room mirror.
Autumn explains that, due to personal circumstances, her mirror-free experiment has been a lot harder the second time around:
I felt like the ground had been snatched out from underneath me. I found it difficult to focus on conversation; for that matter, I began to find it difficult to look people in the eye. The playful curiosity I felt last time about how I looked was replaced by a certainty that I looked horrible. When a friend complimented me on how I looked at a party I was nervous about attending, I got teary-eyed, so thankful was I to have some affirmation that my face hadn’t morphed into some grotesque bizarro-world version of myself.
So do you think you could go mirror-free for a month? I don’t know if I could. I wouldn’t necessarily call myself vain, but I do care quite a bit about how I look, especially in regards to clothing; I am definitely the girl who checks out her reflection in store windows, making sure my outfit looks just as good in full afternoon sun as it did when I put it on in my bedroom. And when I moved a few months ago, one of the first things I did was put up that full-length mirror in my bedroom. I felt totally unmoored without the ability to look at my reflection.
But Autumn’s experiment is making me wonder how healthy my own mirror obsession is. I’m so intrigued by Autumn’s assertion that “the mirror is a reflection of how we feel, not how we look.” After reading her blog, I’m starting to agree that our relationship with our reflections is much more psychological than we realize. I also feel challenged: could I do this myself?
I know it would be hard, but it feels like the kind of challenge that’s worth it, just for what you’d be able to learn about yourself, emotionally. Not to mention you’d have to learn accessorize and do your hair and makeup sans reflecting glass; I’m kind of low-maintenance on beauty (Thanks, curly hair!), but I know this would be super tough for many ladies. I can barely imagine trying to dress for a special event like a wedding or a fancy dinner without being able to know what you look like, though. So many interesting issues about self-confidence, trust and perception!
It seems basically impossible to go a year without mirrors, like Kjerstin Gruys, but the fact of the matter is: it’s not impossible. We’ve been conditioned to expect the presence of mirrors in our lives, but we can also condition ourselves to lessen that presence (and dependence), if we want to. I propose everyone reading this post makes an attempt to go without a mirror for just one day, Just one day! That’s just a tiny fraction of what Autumn and Kjerstin tried, but I think the benefits would still be there. Would you try it?