(1) I had successfully given 4 (!) presentations at my conference, and
(2), as I mentioned in my last post, I had found a wedding dress I felt comfortable in (and which gave my mom goosebumps).
Yet, I felt ill at ease when reflecting on the dress situation. Was all that really necessary? Did my happiness over dress #2 outweigh the expense and self-centered obsessing I had gone through to get it? Was this my first slippery-sloped step toward bridezilla land? Sighing, I decided to channel Scarlett O'Hara and "think of it tomorrow." Determined 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:
“No one had seen her naked until her death. 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 (more in summer when the stagnant Tuscan air bathed them in sweat), 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. If any did let their gaze stray downward, the sin was a matter for the confessional and therefore not for history.” (Prologue of The Birth of Venus, by Sarah Dunant)
A lifetime without seeing oneself. It made me pause. What a different life those nuns had lived, compared my appearance-obsessed world of Los Angeles! Could I go even one day without looking at myself in a mirror? Maybe I should. Actually, how about a year??
My brain was having one of those rare “aha” moment. My values and behaviors had been at odds, and this would be the "step back" from vanity that I needed. I would force myself to experience life from the inside-out, instead of the outside-in. But could I do it? How? And with what effects on my life, self-image, and personal and professional relationships? Was it possible that removing mirrors from my life might actually cause me to become more obsessed or insecure about my appearance? Would I completely lose the ability to apply make-up, style my hair, or select flattering and chic outfits? Despite these looming questions, I felt very determined. Somehow, I would wean myself off of mirrors for a year!
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