What if you never saw your reflection? If you only knew what you looked like from your own first-person perspective (think first-person shooter video games), how would that change your life?
In this modern world, we grow up knowing what we look like because we have mirrors and photographs. Now imagine the world of the past, before there were any mirrors. One day you happen upon a still pond in the forest. Thankful for the water on such a hot day, you walk over to it. You crouch down to take a drink and you see your reflection for the first time. Enraptured, you stop and stare. Long minutes pass and still you can’t look away. You find yourself studying every tiny detail. What part of your face most interests you? Are you at all like you imagined?
I’m on Day 8 of my vow of silence, and I’ve found that when you stop talking it’s easier to listen – to everything. For the past few days I’ve been paying attention to my internal dialogue whenever I see my reflection. I thought this exercise would be interesting, because I’ve recently come to a place where I feel like I’ve made some fantastic progress in self-love. But even with all of the progress I’ve made, the things I say to myself while looking in the mirror still really sadden me. I only now understand how much further I still need to go in my journey of self-acceptance in order to override the more than 30 years of negative messages I’ve received from society and my family.
One of the thoughts that struck me as I was pondering my reflection was that even with a mirror you still don’t accurately see yourself from another’s perspective. Your reflection is a reversal of what others see when they look at you, plus you see yourself through your own filters and self-judgments. Add to that the fact that each person’s experiences, preferences, and filters change how they see you. Now what? How do you look to others? How do you know what parts of you to modify in order to be “better?” Even if you change the things you see that are “imperfect,” how will you know if those are the things others see as flaws?
On reflection (no pun intended), it seems like I use mirrors to seek out the flaws that I’ve been told could make me unlovable or unworthy. Once I find them, my mission, should I accept it, is to somehow try to hide them. I’m so tired of that game, so I’m spending the next little while trying not to look into mirrors. I’m getting in touch with how my body feels, telling my body how amazing it is, and how grateful I am for its strength. I’m learning how to truly appreciate all my body does and has done for me, and I’m hoping to fall in love with it so I can change my internal dialogue.
I’d like to leave you with a few thoughts, and I’d love to hear what you think would happen if you did any or all of these things:
- What if you painted your mirrors, or covered them with fabric, or removed them entirely? Would you start to see yourself as a better version of yourself? Would you be kinder to yourself?
- What if you started imagining that you had a more beautiful body, and started loving your body? Would you take better care of it? Would you be more confident?
- What if you started choosing clothes based on how they look on the hanger and how they feel on your body instead of how they can hide your flaws? Would getting dressed be easier? Would shopping be more fun? Would you stop caring what other people thought of you?