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.

beautiful natural hair afro woman in mirror

Photo via Shutterstock

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?


Come on People says:
August 22, 2012, 3:35 pm
I don't find what Gruys did silly. It worked for her, it was an experience that she felt at the time would help her focus less on herself. I apllaud her for her efforts. Would I do it? Probably not. However, that is not my journey. I have had self esteem issues, we all have, but not to the extent that she experienced it. We all have different ways of coping with it. Who are we to judge her, she commited no sin.
Tash says:
August 22, 2012, 3:45 pm
I'm sure for some people the "mirror fast" is just a trend to gain a you tube/blog following, but I think for others, it is a means of trying to regain control and self-esteem in a society filled with messages and images that constantly remind us that we are not attractive enough, pretty enough, thin enough, etc.
Lisa says:
August 22, 2012, 4:09 pm
I don't spend that much time examining myself in the mirror, so I hardly need a fast.
Chearitee says:
August 22, 2012, 4:10 pm
First thing that came to mind while reading this was "How on earth am I going to style my hair without a mirror?". I agree the whole "mirror fast" thing is a form of avoidance, but I do think that avoiding the chance to criticize your appearance and thus fuel the negative self-talk could be a helpful step towards build up confidence. Notice I said it's a step, because avoidance alone won't solve anything. I can honestly say that I'm happy with my appearance. I could always loose a love handle, but it doesn't bother me. Still I'd like to try this "mirror fasting" thing out once, just so I can experience it and maybe learn from the new perspective.
Anita says:
August 22, 2012, 5:23 pm
I just find it a little contradictory to cover mirrors but still apply makeup and I'm sure, style your hair. So you put more effort into how other perceive you than how you perceive yourself?
pets says:
August 22, 2012, 6:47 pm
The Mirror Fast works for some - what the concept and this post has done is opened dialogue about self esteem and body issues in a new way - and that can't be bad.
Shones says:
August 23, 2012, 9:27 am
The way I see it, the physical mirror isn't the problem, so covering it up with a sheet, even for years, is of limited impact. At the crux of it all is changing the way we think, in this case, regarding our vanity. I can padlock my fridge and hide the key, but if I still have an overwhelming desire to pop bon-bons every night, it's going to manifest in some other way. I have to REALLY address the unchecked gluttony residing in me. Real change doesn't come by fasting alone. To those who are spiritual, we have to go deeper and couple it with prayer.
carmen says:
August 23, 2012, 10:22 am
umm yeah. I read this earlier this week and I said to myself, wtf are they talmbout? I read a huge huge variety of blogs, from every ethnicity, nationality, etc and I have not heard of this ONCE. I don't even see the issue. Tell Max I said hello and get his ass out of the mirror! He's so
Marilyn @ Lipgloss and Spandex says:
August 23, 2012, 10:47 am
I understand why some women would do it, but there's no way I'm going without a mirror for more than a day. It's a practical tool. The problem is how we use or abuse or rely on the tool, not the object itself. While getting rid of, or covering, mirrors might be a coping strategy for some, I agree with you that it seems like it's just an attempt to avoid reality and a poor way to deal with whatever underlying issues there are. (And also impractical--what avoiding public restrooms or reflective glass windows that are mirror-like? And putting on makeup and doing my hair would take forever). There are plenty of other things you can avoid that actually misrepresent reality (fashion magazines?).
Pyvsi says:
August 23, 2012, 11:13 am
Self-esteem issues? So you stop looking at yourself -- but continue to look at everyone else, and think that is going to help? I think a media fast is more appropriate. Cut out all TV, magazine, and even website images of what "beauty" is supposed to be. Cover your walls with images of relatives and other people who look like you. That way, your own appearance is what becomes normalized, and that is what you grow to love.
SimplyDafdaf says:
August 23, 2012, 11:46 am
ehhhh simply just removing the image of yourself from your brain won't make you more comfortable with yourself. I personally couldn't stop looking at the mirror because I have dry skin and sometimes even after leaving the house I find something wrong with my face because i usually just moisturize... don't really wear much makeup. My hair's natural, I need to know what's going down when I'm styling my hair. Anyways, that's just ridiculous. The root of your self-esteem issue must be the focus instead of just stopping yourself from looking at the mirror....
ria says:
August 23, 2012, 11:57 am
This is a family blog so i can't say what I really want so I'll just stick with your words- "I don't get it!" lol
Sherry says:
August 23, 2012, 4:49 pm
Joining in for the first time! I would say that it is better to look in the mirror and smile lovingly at your reflection than it is to avoid it. Practice the same kindness to yourself that you do to others ...
Doctor Cris says:
August 24, 2012, 9:28 am
I agree with you. I am fashionista too and that is why I love to read your blog. The way I look at it is that we were blessed with this body that serves us is so many ways. So I like to take care of it and honor it. I eat healthy foods, meditate, and exercise---which is all inside work---but I also love to do the outside work. I buy clothes that enhance my body type, make-up to bring out my best features, shoes that are stylish yet comfortable. I would not give up the mirror because it is a tool I use to honor my body. I am not a size 2 or 4 but I love what I see and you my friend are gorgeous in every way.
treef says:
August 24, 2012, 7:08 pm
It depends whether your problem with self-esteem is if you worry you're not beautiful, or if you worry your appearance is all people (including yourself) care about. If it's the former, a mirror fast isn't going to help. If it's the latter, taking a sabbatical from seeing yourself as an appearance-based being may help. Speaking for myself, there are times I've wished I was a ghost instead of a human being so people would stop looking at me, judging and interpreting who I am based on my external/physical presence. I've often felt that all my body/face does is tell lies about me, misrepresenting who I am inside. Even as I read makeup blogs now, it's a fraught experience. I started wearing makeup because bullies pressured me to. It's only recently that I've come to find enjoyment in makeup and beauty. But I still have some anxieties. So for me, while it may not change the image-obsessed culture we live in, not constantly looking at myself and engaging with what I look like physically could be quite calming. I haven't tried it yet, but it could help people like me come to peace with the fact that being judged on appearance is a fact of life- maybe taking a sabbatical could allow such a person to recollect themselves and find a way to cope and find enjoyment in their image. I know a lot of people could read the above and not relate to it at all- I think most women accept the idea that physical appearance is part of life, and their struggle is more with accepting whether their appearance is good enough. For them, I think what you have to say is probably true! The important thing is to realize everyone learns to cope with image and self-esteem in different ways. I don't like that this mirror-fast is a trend/popular, because when things "trend" it usually means people are encouraged to try it because "it's so now", regardless of whether it actually helps them.
Amber Norell says:
August 25, 2012, 1:26 am
I had never heard of a mirror fast before...This is a really insightful article, I look forward to more :)
Jordi says:
August 25, 2012, 11:36 pm
I went on a mirror fast so I could forget how fat I am.
Come on People says:
August 27, 2012, 5:01 pm
Yeah, media fast sounds much better.
numbah5 says:
August 28, 2012, 9:49 am
I have nothing insightful to add...I'm just here for the kitty! Purrrty kitty... :0)
TexasDyme says:
September 6, 2012, 11:31 am
The whole idea seems pretty silly. I really think that when they look in the mirror after that year they are LITERALLY not going to recognize the person looking back at them in the mirror.
Nicole says:
February 18, 2013, 1:35 pm
A small break may give someone the chance to just take a break. If it helps foster self acceptance for some people without changing their bodies I don't see why not.
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