How many times do you look in the mirror in a day? A few? A dozen? If you're like many women, it goes beyond mirrors. You catch glimpses of yourself in car or store windows, you see your reflection in the mirrored part of someone's sunglasses, or you check your shadow for stray lines or anything that might seem out of place reflected back at you by your image or silhouette.
It's exhausting and most all women do it unconsciously every single day. But not writer Autumn Whitefield-Madrano. She has vowed to stop looking in the mirror for the entire month of May.
It isn't because she has issues with beauty or an eating disorder, but just because she is, like many women, distracted by her appearance. As she says:
Yet my core concern here isn't whether I like or don't like what I see in the mirror. It s about the overriding self-consciousness that s taken up residence in my psyche.
And it's true. Looking at our reflection becomes a near-constant in many women's lives to the detriment of almost everything around us. It isn't obsessive lipstick checks or putting on makeup that distracts us, but rather the constant, unconscious reaffirmations of who we are through our reflection.
The examples Whitefield-Madrano uses are looking in the window of a restaurant and seeing that, yes, she looks like she belongs, or at her reflection while she sits in a cafe, assuring herself that she does look writer-ly. It's those little checks we all do all day without thinking that take away from our greater state of being in the world and being whole, not just our appearance.
She will still use a hand mirror to apply makeup (because this experiment isn't about skipping makeup), but besides that, she will not view her reflection. For an entire month.
At the end, she says she hopes to get this:
I just want to see what life is like when I’m not using that image as my anchor; I want to see how it affects the way I move through the world, the way I regard myself and others. I want to know what it’s like to sever a primary tie to one of my greatest personal flaws—extraordinary self-consciousness—and I want to discover what will fill the space that the mirror has occupied until now.
I will report back at the end of her month, but I also wonder how others could follow her lead. Do you think you couldn't look in the mirror for a month? As of now, I'm not sure if I could go a week. But it might be worth a try.
Would you try this?