Would you shun your mirror?
As bloggers chart their journey of no reflections, by banishing their mirrors for up to a year, shocking statistics come out about the self-confidence of British women.
How many times a day do you look in the mirror? Chances are your prediction – unless you’re a self-confessed vanity queen – is below the average. Whether using a handheld compact to apply your lippie on the tube or catching a glimpse of yourself in a shop window, the typical British women looks at herself in a mirror 38 times a day, according to a study published in Behaviour Research and Therapy.
Not for much longer, if New York based blogger Autumn Whitefield Madrano has her way. Documenting her ‘Month Without Mirrors’ in May last year, ‘Mirror Fasting’ is set to become the new en vogue confidence-boosting exercise.
‘The goal was to loosen the grip that self-consciousness has had on me for much of my life,’ the 35-year-old New Yorker confessed. Describing the mirror as ‘a quest for control’ and monitoring the image we present to the world, Madrano continued to note that ‘surveillance is an effort to carefully control our ideas about ourselves.’
And what did the month of no reflection teach the blogger? ‘In addition to realising that I don’t have to strive to look pretty every minute, I thought far less about looks this month than I normally do. I didn’t feel better or worse about my appearance; I rarely felt pretty or unpretty. I just didn’t care as much.’
PHD student and recovered anorexic Kjerstin Gruys took the premise of ‘no mirrors’ to extremes, as she reported life without mirrors for an entire year including the period over and during her wedding.
‘I’ve managed to better separate my looks from my self-esteem. This is probably the most powerful secret to feeling beautiful,’ Gruys wrote in her blog ‘Mirror, Mirror Off the Wall.’ She has now secured a book deal to chart her experience of ‘the perils of poppy-seed teeth and makeup meltdown, to the pressures of bridal beauty’.
Though 38 separate moments might seem like a large amount of mirror checking for most of us, more shockingly, perhaps, is the fact that nearly 80% of women are likely to be dissatisfied with their reflection. More than half see a distorted image, compared to men who ‘are more likely to be either pleased with what they see or indifferent,’ according to a summary of research on mirrors and body image by the Oxford-based Social Issues Research Centre (SIRC).
Our very own cultural tendencies are responsible for female self-deprecation as women tend to judge others on their appearance more than men do. Unrealistic standards of female beauty are also to blame, with the SIRC additionally noting that, ‘young women now see more images of outstandingly beautiful women in one day than our mothers saw throughout their entire adolescence.’
While we’re all for embracing every female’s individual beauty, we’re not sure about tucking away our mirrors for a whole year. Each to their own!
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