I moved house about six weeks ago, which means for six weeks I have been using a bathroom that doesn’t have a mirror in it. There was a full length mirror tucked away in the back of my wardrobe, so I got it out and attached it to the wardrobe door with about 50,000 sticky mounting squares. It turns out that in a heatwave you need about 70,000 sticky mounting squares and maybe some superglue, otherwise the whole thing will slide off the door at an unexpected moment and bounce on the carpet. Happily, it didn’t break, but it left me without an easily-usable mirror. I have propped it up against the wall for now but in order to see what I’m wearing I need to stand well back, and to see my face I need to hunch over at a weird angle. Kind of like this:
The upshot of this has been that I haven’t looked in the mirror much lately. Which has been an interesting thing, in that I have found that I haven’t really worried about how I look. I haven’t spent ages on my hair… although to be honest that is nothing new. I saw my hairdresser yesterday and she asked me a question about my blow-drying routine. I said it consisted of turning up the air vents in my car on the way to work. But I also haven’t fussed too much about making sure everything is Just So before I leave the house. I have a quick look and if I look reasonably respectable with nothing out that should be in, then I’m done. It’s been good.
There are mirrors in the bathroom at work, and I do occasionally go in there and think “Oh, so that’s what my hair looks like today”, but I haven’t worried too much. It is what it is (and what it is, is curly and a bit unkempt, and all the fussing in the world won’t change that anyway).
But here’s the interesting thing. Yesterday I bought a bathroom mirror. I like how cheery it looks with the purple walls, and it was only $10, so why not?
But this morning, I got up and fussed about my hair. I looked at blemishes. I felt depressed about my broken teeth. I peered at my fat face, wishing it were smaller. I found more wrinkles. And then I went into my day feeling fat and ugly and old and wrong.
This was unexpected, to say the least. Now I’m in a bind. I want to keep the mirror, but I don’t want to feel bad every day. Of course, the mirror didn’t cause all of this. It’s not a magic mirror. But having it there threw me back to some unhealthy habits of self-criticism and body hatred. And now I know that, and I can be aware of it. So I guess what I need to do is look in the mirror. Just look. Looking is fine. Listening? Not so much.