Thursday, June 14, 2012

Who's NOT the fairest of them all

A facebook friend said that he hadn't looked in a mirror for about 4 days and that he didn't know how he felt about that. He'd been walking around with a scratch on his forehead; hadn't noticed it til it started itching and, I'm guessing, looked in the mirror to check out what was going on. And, that's when the realization hit him that it was about 4 days prior that he'd most likely sustained the scratch and so, to his surprise, it had been that long since he'd really looked at himself.

I felt envious. I consider this a surprisingly healthy attitude to have towards oneself considering what a narcissistic and self-obsessed culture we live in.

One family I house-sat for in Victoria in the '80's had only a tiny medicine cabinet mirror in the bathroom. There were no other mirrors of any kind in their house. And, to my horror, no full length mirrors. The couple had lived in Africa for a year working for the Peace Corps and that experience rubbed off on them, giving them an outlook on life and values that were perhaps different from the typical middle class north American family. As I understood it, the wife (and mother of the household) felt that mirrors promoted: vanity, comparison, judgment and dissatisfaction with one's self. Not only that, but the solution to this dissatisfaction for many is to buy products to improve one's appearance and thus fuel the cosmetics industry, of which she was not a great fan.

Honestly, at the time, I thought it was a little weird which if you really think about it was weird coming from one who had battled anorexia. The image that I had seen reflected back at me had fed into those very qualities in myself and fuelled great discontent though not many trips to the cosmetics counter.

I look in the mirror far too often — seeking perfection and self-approval — though I know the reflection I experience is totally subjective depending on the way I feel about myself. Most often, like many women, by the end of my mirror gazing I only see flaws. Mirrors have proven time and time again that they are not my friend as these cartoons (and the one in the previous post) attest. So why am I so damn loyal to them? I'm thinking of taking the plunge like my FB friend and breaking up our relationship!

Thacker Cartoon
©Nance Thacker 1990
Thacker Cartoons
©Nance Thacker 1990

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