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March 24, 2017

The Real Reason for Full-Length Mirrors. (Hint: It’s Not to See how Good you Look.)

There’s one mirror in the furnished apartment that my husband and I recently moved into in San Diego.

It’s over the sink in the bathroom.

“I have to have a full-length mirror,” I complained to him. “Who has an apartment with no full-length mirror?”

He said he’d put one up for me, but before he had a chance—something happened.

I went into the ladies room at our new gym, and for the first time in about six weeks, I saw myself in a full-length mirror.

I’d always thought that I had to have a full-length mirror in my home to see whether everything looked “all right.”

Back in the day, I would use it to see if my seams were straight and whether my slip was showing—that’s how I started out using it.

But when I looked in the full-length mirror at the gym, I realized that I didn’t really look in full-length mirrors to see if everything was “all right.”

I looked in full-length mirrors to see what was wrong. 

I looked in them to see how fat I looked—or whether I could get away with those tights, or with that fitted tank top, or with that skirt that was a little bit too short.

In other words, I would walk over to the full-length mirror on the closet door—close the door, so that I could get an unobstructed view—and then I’d stand there and…criticize myself.

What’s more, I didn’t even realize I was doing it.

However, when I saw myself in the mirror at the gym—surprise, surprise—I saw myself through new eyes, and I and kinda liked what I saw: An older woman, a bit on the heavy side, who was well-dressed with a little bit of makeup and a lot of wavy, dark brown hair.

I actually felt a little pleased.

I also felt relieved.

No longer having a full-length mirror in my house had broken a habit I didn’t even know I had—one that wasn’t good for me.

As I walked out of the gym to my car that morning, I felt something like a weight lift off me.

I was no longer a slave to my mirror.

Better yet, I was no longer a slave to the critical voice that activated inside me the minute I closed my closet door and looked at myself in my full-length mirror.

Without a full-length mirror around, I’d been dressing for the last six weeks without ever once checking to see if everything was “all right.”

In fact, I’d been dressing the way I did when I was a little girl—just putting on my clothes based on what I liked and what I figured they must look like when they’re on me.

I couldn’t “check” anything. There was no mirror to do it in. I also couldn’t criticize myself for the way I looked. I more or less had to rely on how I felt in my clothes, and entirely forego how I looked in them.

It was downright liberating. 

“Never mind about putting that mirror up,” I told my husband when I got back from the gym. “I’m done with playing that game.”

“What game?” he asked.

“The ‘Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?’ game. I used to play it with myself, and I was always the loser.”

That’s when I remembered what else the apartment in San Diego doesn’t have—a scale.

No wonder I feel so relaxed there.

 

~

Author: Carmelene Siani

Image: Flickr/Wellcome Images

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

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