Today I stumbled across the blog of a young woman who has taken a pledge to spend an entire year without looking into a mirror – mind you, this year included her wedding day.
You can find her blog here
I have to admit, I’m incredibly impressed. I never really considered how often I look at my reflection every day, but now that I think about it … it’s a lot. I look at myself when I do my make up in the morning, I look at myself in a full length mirror before I go to work to make sure I like my outfit, I look at myself every time I go into the bathroom, I look at myself in the screen of my phone when I reapply lip gloss …
Well, you get the point.
I’ve always been pretty far over on the girly side. I like makeup, I like fashion, I like dressing up and looking my best for no particular reason. I’m no priss (eating pizza on the floor in sweatpants sounds just as good to me as a night out at a restaurant), but I was definitely never a tom boy.
And this idea of not looking at myself in a mirror is, quite honestly, terrifying. Because I never really considered just how much of my confidence comes from how I look. The truth is, a lot of it does.
I was a painfully awkward tween. Braces, missing teeth, ridiculously skinny, and horrible fashion sense. I didn’t have a boyfriend until I was in college, and I can count the number of dates I had in high school on one hand. Yet despite all of that, I never had low self esteem. I can chalk a lot of that up to good parenting – my mom is a strong woman, and my dad is a wonderful man. I grew up knowing that my self confidence should never have anything to do with whether or not I was with a man.
But the thing is, I had something else that helped me with my confidence. Around junior year of high school, I began looking into modeling. And even though I never had a boyfriend at good ol’ HHS, I had people telling me “yes, you can be a model”. That’ll do a lot for a girl’s self esteem.
I never looked like the other girls in my high school. I was pale, I kept my hair in a pixie cut, and I wore clothes that certainly didn’t fit the “preppy” ideal. But that was a good thing, because that made me different. That style was part of what made modeling something that was available to me, even if it was (and still is) definitely not the look that gets the guys.
I’ve never been paid for any of the modeling I’ve done. It’s mostly been the luck of having some photographer friends who needed work for their fashion portfolios. But looking at the end result of those photo shoots was all I ever really needed, because I could look at them and believe so easily that yes, I am lovely. I am good at modeling – I am good at standing outside in a foot of snow in a strapless gown and open toed heels and looking as though I am completely comfortable. (Sometimes I think modeling is really only for masochists).
But, what if I never had any of this? What if no one ever stopped me to say that I was beautiful?
Well, I’m ashamed to say, my self esteem would take an immediate hit.
I’m ashamed to say it because no one’s self esteem should really hinge on looks. I am many other things – a talented writer, a funny girl, an extrovert – but how I look is a big part of where my confidence comes from. If someone stops me on the street to compliment my hair or my look, I practically glow. It makes me so happy when I get noticed that way.
Obviously, there so much more to me than that. And I think that part of it is simply the fact that, deep inside of me, there is still that 12 year old girl who’s crush lied to her about going home from the dance early because he didn’t want to slow dance with her. There’s still the girl who had to ask a guy to senior prom because no one asked her. And you know what? Those were shitty experiences, and it’s nice to have my attractiveness reaffirmed after years of going dateless on Friday nights.
But that’s no excuse to let so much esteem hinge on something that can so easily be gone.
And so I wonder, could I go a year without mirrors? Could I go without makeup? Would people still call me beautiful?
The sad thing is, I’m probably too scared to ever find out.