April 8, 2014

No Mirrors Challenge!

Greetings, person of the Internet! A while ago, my Genders Studies professor encouraged us to go without either technology or mirrors for a week. Since staying in contact with my friends and family was important to me, I chose to forgo looking at my reflection. It sounds sort of silly at first, I know. But in the end, I ended up taking a lot more out of it than I expected to. It was surprising how much I look at my own reflection and how difficult it turned out to be! Today, I will be sharing some of the takeaways I got from this experience. (Warning: At the end, you too will be challenged to try a mirror fast.)

To be honest, I didn't think that living without mirrors would be very difficult for me. I believe myself to focus on seeing inner beauty of the people around me, and since I try consistently to see beyond the physical appearance, this challenge seemed like cakewalk. Sure, it would be kind of awkward when I couldn't look straight forward while brushing my teeth or washing my hands, but it really was only a couple minutes of the day. When talking to my other classmates about how they coped with the mirror challenge, my reliance on mirrors was definitely not the same as theirs. I was literally shocked to hear that some girls would refuse to even leave the dorms when they felt like they could not control and monitor their own appearance. Soon after the first day, however, I started experiencing some version of stress over the challenge.

It wasn't only mirrors that I was supposed to avoid looking at, but pretty much everything that could give me a glimpse of my physical appearance: polished glass, computer/phone screens, windows, clear pools of water, etc.

Something inside of me changed. I felt out of sync with myself because I just didn't have any feedback about what I looked like. Mirrors helped me regulate what was going on in my body all the time. "You have some dark circles; a nap wouldn't be a bad idea. You look a little pale; let's get some juice," I would often say to myself as I washed my hands. It's easier to know how you feel when you can visualize how it is affecting you. Without this sort of sense of self-monitoring, I felt out of touch with myself. Isn't it strange how that turned out?

When I needed to avoid mirrors, I started to realize how often I look at myself, too. Even if it's merely a passing glance at my reflection on a shiny black car, I get a sense of self-affirmation when I see my reflection. I tell myself that I'm beautiful. I smile at myself on nice days and give myself pep-talks on hard ones. Treating yourself well is a must, and I hadn't realized until this mirror challenge that looking at yourself and knowing yourself goes into treating yourself well.

I've also learned to focus on looking at the right things. American society is so preoccupied with looks and appearances; a lot of people look in the mirror, but instead of seeing beauty and the capacity to create and love, see fine lines, wrinkles, flaws.

So, now that I am able to look at my reflection again, I feel very blessed to know what I look like and have started to love my facial features and expressions more than before. I don't mean it in a vain way--I mean it in the healthy way. (Would you rather go through life filled with self-loathing, or with a sense of sound self-love?) I think that, especially in this culture that we exist in, it is helpful to take away something first in order to appreciate it more later.

And now I encourage you, dear reader, to try it. Can you make it through a week without looking at your own reflection? How do you think mirrors have impacted your life? What will you learn?

If you do the mirrors challenge and reflect on it on your own blog, please share the link to your post in the comments below. And if you have any initial thoughts about what I've shared with you today, please let me know about them as well. Your opinions are so valuable to me!

Take care,
-Riley XO


  1. I love the idea of that challenge! I might even try it myself :) I don't conpletely rely on mirrors but I check things a lot! That's an impressive amount of self control!


  2. Wow! I have to say, "wow". That would be quite a challenge for me, but then, I'm sure it'll be good for me since I spend far too much time in front of mirrors. I will try it soon!

    I nominated you for the Liebster blog award: http://taratherese.wordpress.com/2014/04/14/liebster-award/

  3. Thank you ladies for your lovely comments! Tara--I hope you are able to take something out of the no mirrors challenge and thank you very much for nominating me for the Liebster Award!


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