About-Face BlogBody ImageChange-makersHealth and BodyOn The Pulse

One hundred days without a mirror

By July 8, 2011 5 Comments

Kjerstin Gruys is 1/3rd of the way through her year without mirrors

This Monday celebrated our nation’s independence, and also marked the 101st day of my decision to go a year without mirrors. It seemed like an auspicious time to give About-Face a progress report!

1) FEASIBILITY: YES, I have been able to almost completely remove mirrors from my life, and I no longer feel dependent on them. This feels is pretty phenomenal.  Still, it’s been really difficult, and sometimes I still slip up.  In other words, I’m not yet 100% mirror-free.  Mirrors and reflective surfaces are everywhere, and even the most stringent measures haven’t prevented accidental glimpses.  (Darn those ATM security cameras!) These peripheral peeks have been mostly benign, but every so often, “seeing myself” has led to “looking at myself,” which is totally against the rules.

At first these little cheats were motivated by burning curiosity (insecurity?) about my looks, but I’ve calmed a bit about that (see below for details).  Recently, however, I’ve been mourning the loss of creativity that used to go toward my daily makeup, hairstyling, and outfit choices; I look longingly at my exceedingly excessive collection of abandoned beauty products, and am SO tempted to push aside the curtain hung over my bathroom mirror and. … play! The good news is that these urges seem motivated by body-positive creativity, instead of body-negative insecurity.  Hooray!

2) TRUST: When I first started avoiding mirrors I felt paranoid about my appearance.  (Heck, sometimes I felt paranoid that I didn’t even exist when I couldn’t see myself!).  I became that annoying girl who constantly asks everybody “Do I look okay??!,” and was unnerved to discover that I didn’t even trust people when they told me I did.  This was profoundly depressing – had I ever trusted a compliment on my looks?

Well, the paranoia faded in time (though I am still very curious about my looks), and I’ve learned that my friends and family are much kinder to me than I typically have been to myself. Yes, people let me know when I have mascara on my nose or food on my shirt, but pointing out a mouth full of poppy-seeds is drastically different from the disapproval (or disgust) that I used to project at my reflection in the mirror.   I’ve started to trust these outside opinions a bit more, and my (critical) self a bit less.

So…. do I have FANTASTIC BODY IMAGE now?  Well, no.  But I never expected to reverse a 15+year issue in only a few months.  That would be ridiculously simple, and – as is true for most women – my body image remains ridiculously complex.   Yet I’m seeing small positive changes, and these give me hope.


A few weeks ago I challenged myself to complete all 37 items on TheKnot.com’s Bridal Beauty: Countdown to Gorgeous list without looking into a mirror.  (I’m getting married in October.) So…  I got my eyebrows waxed without seeing the results, I downward-dogged with only my sister’s perky rear to guide my form, and I bared my soul to the world-wide-web, regarding my body image struggles… Yet, the item on this list that scares me the most is the only item I’m NOT ALLOWED to complete; the last thing I’m supposed to do before walking down the aisle, is:

“Take a few moments to reflect on the meaning of the day before giving yourself one last once-over in the mirror.”

Yeah, that “last once-over in the mirror” is definitely not permitted in the rules of my project.  But, I’m scared I’ll regret not doing this.  Not only will I be desperately curious to know what I’ll look like as a bride, but SO many trusted, sane, wise, and not-ridiculously-vain women in my life (hi mom!) have told me that I NEED to take a moment alone to see myself on the day that I get married.  I’ve been told that this won’t be about my looks, but about quietly recognizing myself for just one quiet moment during a whirlwind day of momentous transition. And that doesn’t sound so bad, right?

Or…. maybe this moment-in-front-of-the-mirror thing is just one more overly-romantic bridal “must-do” myth, and I’d be buying into it at the cost of this projects’ integrity.  I don’t have the answer yet, and probably won’t until that moment arrives (or doesn’t).

What do you think?