You know a trend has reached its peak when the New York Times writes a piece on it, but I must have been under some kind of rock when “mirror fasts” became the thing. According to this NY Times piece, Mirror Fasts Help You Take the Focus Off Yourself, bloggers have been all into the craze, documenting their time away from reflective surfaces in introspective posts that span a week, a month, even a year – yes, there are people who are doing their best to avoid reflective surfaces for a full 365, in a quest to break their obsession with image, or to cease their inner critics, or to make a statement about how narcissistic we are as a society.
Maybe they didn’t send this memo to beauty and fashion bloggers. I’m thinking this is not a trend likely to be embraced by the likes of us.
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I am part of a generation that self-documents relentlessly. We’re an image-conscious lot, into fashion and makeup and taking self portraits where we relentlessly critique and celebrate each other’s beauty. I can’t even count how many times I look at myself in a day intentionally and inadvertently. Every time I look at my phone, I see myself. There’s a whole wall of mirrors at my gym. My bathroom is basically covered in mirrors. Even contemplating the steadfast effort it would require to avoid mirrors makes me tired. Besides reflections in storefront mirrors and smartphones and life and such, makeup and beauty are part of my job. Applying beautifying products is what I do. I’m always gazing at myself and applying something to my face. Does that make me a narcissist? Not according to the Mayo Clinic. I’ve definitely met textbook narcissists in the past. I’m not a therapist, but I don’t believe that looking into the mirror makes you a narcissist. Thinking you’re better, more beautiful, and more special than other people – that makes you a narcissist.
The blogger who is credited as kicking off the mirror fast craze – Kjerstin Gruys, blogged about her year without mirrors and has been featured on 20/20 in a special episode about obsessions — click to watch as she brushes her teeth in front of a bathroom mirror that’s been covered over with a giant sheet and does her makeup without looking at herself. Gruys is a sociologist and blames the mirror and the media for causing self esteem issues. “There aren’t a lot of beauty role models who are above a size 4 or 6. I’m roughly a size 10. I have a very normal body, but I compare myself to women who are photoshopped so they don’t even look like the actual women,” she says in her interview with Robin Roberts. And then she goes on to discuss her eating disorder in high school. At that point I was like….hey, I identify with all of that! But then she lost me completely, with the covering of the bathroom mirror and refusing to even look at herself in her wedding dress on her wedding day. To me, a mirror fast seems like a gimmick that won’t help you get over deeper self-esteem issues. It comes across as avoidance of reality.
For me, mirrors have been essential tools in appreciating the evolution of my beauty. There was a time in my life when I didn’t love what I saw in the mirror. I went through years where all I could see were my flaws. Learning to look in the mirror and love what I saw was essential in building my confidence. The mirror came to help me embrace all of me, and that’s how I learned to enhance and appreciate my beauty. So now when I look in the mirror I still see the impending zits, the acne scars, the oversized pores, the cellulite and under-eye wrinkles — things to bemoan aplenty. But I also see the beauty, the body parts and features I love, the parts I accept, the parts I want to change. My reality. Learning to embrace the reality of my reflection was key to building my own self esteem, when I had none.
When I feel nervous before appearing in public, the last thing I do is touch up my makeup, give myself a once over and smile at my reflection in a mirror. It’s a way of making sure I’m about to present my best self, and a way of reassuring myself that I’m gonna give my best in whatever I’m doing. I can’t imagine depriving myself of that. I don’t see why I would. But hey, that’s just me. And look. Even my cat can’t help checking himself out whenever he can.
What do you think, bellas? Would you be down to do a mirror fast? Or do you think the idea is kinda silly?