In the Mirror: What Do You See?

Adios Barbie | English

By Ophira Edut, Pia Guerrero & Sharon Haywood, Editors

Why do you look in the mirror? And what’s happening in your head when you do?

Mirror time is often distracted, a place to procrastinate or drift to when you feel anxious. In the midst of a creative block, we’ve popped non-existent zits, pinched our love handles, and over-plucked our brows (yikes). We’ve frowned at ourselves and found little “flaws” that nobody else would notice. And on a bad day, we’ve given our bodies quite the critical dressing-down, leaving ourselves depressed and defeated.

The mirror doesn’t always yield a picture of reality.

In fact, we’d argue that it’s what you BRING to the mirror that matters—more than what the mirror reveals to you. Your attitude can literally change what you see.

If you’re upset, worried, frustrated or ashamed, you’re probably not gonna look at your reflection and see its beauty. You’ll project all that negative emotion onto your image, creating a hopeless illusion. No wonder “retail therapy” is so dangerous—shopping for clothes when you’re in a funk almost always leaves you with body image angst and buyer’s remorse. (The warped dressing room mirrors and cheap lighting don’t help, either.)

By contrast, when you’re already happy and you glance in the mirror, you see beauty, no matter how disheveled you are. Joy has a way of making anybody feel gorgeous. After a night of ecstatic dancing, falling in love, or connecting with a great friend, ugly doesn’t stand a chance. The day Ophira found out she was pregnant, she snapped cell phone pictures of herself in the bathroom mirror at two a.m.—no makeup, in men’s pajamas, hair a little wild. Looking back, the images are far from “glamour shots” (and might even be a tad embarrassing). But at that pre-dawn moment, she looked radiant and camera-ready.

Pia grew up a serious student of art, drawing her first nude body in high school. When she sat at the easel, her artistic eye saw the human body with its lines, curves, twists, and turns quite beautiful. But 20 years later she found she’d lost her “eye” to the voice in her head, always judging and assessing people’s bodies, especially her own. One day at a museum exhibit of classical female nudes she was motivated to view herself differently. Using a full-length mirror, she drew her nude body in its natural state and found forgiveness. But even more importantly she was inspired. Her form became a magical landscape that informed her of her humanity. She became present to the gift of her body, its true purpose, and natural beauty.

When Sharon decided to stop coloring her hair after more than two decades, a serious attitude adjustment was in order. During her first attempt to give up the (Clairol) bottle …

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