Mirror, mirror…OFF the wall

Imagine a year without a mirror.


Now imagine surviving several months of that year trying to plan your wedding. Nightmare? Or sweet relief?

About-Face Program Evaluation Consultant Kjerstin Gruys is making it her mission to survive 365 mirror-free days. Read an excerpt from her blog below, and check out the rest at http://mirrormirroroffthewall.blogspot.com/.

The Day Before Day 1

I bought my first wedding dress at a sample-sale, the same week that I got engaged.

Most of the dresses didn’t even fit me, which was mildly frustrating (especially when I wasn’t ALLOWED to try on a few!), but one caught my eye and fit the bill, and my butt.

It was made of light, slubbed silk in light blush with lace detailing and a dramatic train.  The ex-fashion merchandizer in me was satisfied.  The current (penny-pinching) grad student in me was relieved by the 80% discount.  I bought it. I loved it. It loved me.

Until… somehow… we fell out of love.

Mirrors are to blame. Damned mirrors.


I tried on that awesome dress at least once every few weeks for 4 months. Each time I looked in the mirror, I felt a bit less sure.

It was, undeniably, a bit tight around my waist and hips.  Through the slubbed silk, I could see my belly button (or, more specifically, the doughnut of flesh surrounding it).

As the weeks wore on, I became less excited. Sometimes it felt hard to breathe when it was fully zipped. I began to resent the dress.

Flash forward to March.

I was visiting my parents in my hometown of St. Louis. My mom, who hadn’t gone dress shopping with me the first time, had heard enough of my kvetching, and (secretly excited, I’m sure), made appointments at area bridal salons, “just to look.”

Sure enough, after an exhaustive hunt through sample-racks, we found my second wedding dress. This one lacked a bit in uniqueness (compared to the blush of my first love), but was a similar style, and it FIT PERFECTLY. No doughnut in sight.

My mom got the requisite goosebumps. I could breathe. $700. Done.

I was relieved to have found a dress I felt comfortable and beautiful wearing, but I was also getting really, really sick of staring at myself in the mirror. In those moments, I felt like the worst version of myself — insecure, indecisive, vain.

My vanity had already cost several hundreds of dollars (BTW – email if you’re looking for a gorgeous wedding dress!). More importantly, I had lost both time and emotional energy in the process.

The dress shopping had put me over the edge, and with makeup and hair trials looming, something had to give. It was time to take a serious look in the mirror — or was it?

Day 1: The Inspiration

On my flight back to LA, I felt ill at ease when reflecting on the dress situation. Was this my first slippery-sloped step toward bridezilla-land?


Sighing, I decided to channel Scarlett O’Hara and “think of it tomorrow.” To distract myself I turned to the first page of a new book, The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant.

Within 2 pages of the prologue, this project was planted in my mind. Here is what I read:

It was a rule of the order that the Sisters should not look on human flesh, neither their own nor anyone else’s. A considerable amount of thought had gone into the drafting of this observance. Under the billowing folds of their habits each nun wore a long cotton shift, a garment they kept on always, even when they washed, so that it acted as a screen and partial drying cloth as well as a night shift. This shift they changed once a month […], and there were careful instructions as to correct procedure: how they should keep their eyes firmly fixed on the crucifix above their bed as they disrobed.”

A lifetime without seeing oneself. It made me pause.

What a different life those nuns had lived, compared to my appearance-obsessed world of LA! Could I go even one day without looking at myself in the mirror?  Maybe I should.

Actually, how about a year?

My brain had one of those rare “aha” moments. My values and behaviors had been at odds, and I was determined to remedy the situation.

Somehow, I would wean myself off of mirrors for a year.

Kjerstin Guysикони

4 thoughts on “Mirror, mirror…OFF the wall

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  1. A few years ago I was enjoying a trip to Tulum, Mexico. I felt so healthy and attractive. It was a surprising way to feel when in the days leading up to the trip I’d been fretting about how awful I looked in my bathing suit. My friend commented that she was feeling the same way. After talking about how we were feeling, we realized that there were no full length mirrors in the house! We hadn’t seen our bellies and legs in days, no wonder they didn’t seem so bad. Ah, sweet delusion. But were we deluded or was our vision clarified? I’ll be watching your blog to find out. Good luck!

  2. Hi everyone. Thanks for all of the encouragement! I absolutely love Ann’s story, and I can only hope that I’ll have a similar experience, in terms of my self image and confidence.

    So far it’s felt freeing to not have mirrors in my life, but I sometimes I crave a “reality-check”. It’s a hard habit to quit, but – as Ann points out – it’s worth questioning why we think mirrors show us “reality” anyway. Time will tell! Thanks again for the support.

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