One story - titled "The Mirror" - is of particular relevance for this project. It goes like this: Martha was having a bit of a vanity crisis (remind you of anybody we know?). She couldn’t stop looking at herself in the mirror! George was getting really annoyed by all of this (after all, Martha was even waking up in the middle of the night to admire herself in the mirror). So, he devised a plan to teach his friend a lesson. When Martha wasn't looking, George taped a horrid picture of her onto the mirror.
Martha was horrified (as most of us would be, upon seeing ourselves with green skin, wonky gold teeth, and eyes stacked on top of each other!). She cried out, "What has happened to me??" Sly George was ready with an answer: "That's what happens when you look at yourself in the mirror." The tale ends with Martha's enormously cool/brave/awesome decision to never look in the mirror again. "And she didn't." (according to the story)
Ms. Martha and I have more than a few things in common. (M has even started calling me "Martha" every time he's had to point out mascara on my cheek or spinach in my teeth!). Yet, after considering this tale over the past few days, I've identified a few very important differences.
First: George and M make a great comparison. As George is to Martha, M is my best friend. We really look out for each other and have a lot of fun in the process. But... instead of drawing a yucky picture of me on my mirror (which only feeds into vanity - no?), M helped me pick out some sweet "She & Him" album covers with which to cover the two mirrored medicine cabinets in our bathroom. To put it plainly, Mis at least a little bit nicer than George and has much better taste in decor!
***Like this post? Subscribe to Mirror, Mirror... OFF The Wall via RSS feed or Email!***
Second: Martha truly enjoyed looking into the mirror (at least until George fooled her with his unflattering drawing). I, on the other hand, have struggled in my relationship with mirrors. At times I've admired myself in mirrors and felt pride and pleasure in my appearance. I have distinct memories of this: the day in 8th grade that my braces came off, getting reading for my first high school dance, prepping for (and then nailing) a corporate job interview at Abercrombie & Fitch. On these occasions, and many others, I've felt beautiful or glamourous, and, indeed, vain; very Martha-esque.
Yet, I've also experienced the flip-side of this mirror coin. I had crippling (indeed, disordered) body image throughout much of my high school and college years. Nobody ever drew an unflattering picture of me on my mirror, but I managed to look upon myself with horror nonetheless. Thankfully, I've enjoyed much healthier body image over the past 5 or 6 years. Still - as recounted in my first post - the pressures of my upcoming wedding triggered a renewed - and very unwelcome - sense of vain insecurity about my appearance.
And this brings me to the final difference between Martha and me: Martha stopped looking into the mirror to protect her vanity. Indeed, she abandoned mirrors only when their use threatened her looks! In contrast, I've chosen the same path with the hope that avoiding mirrors will reduce my vanity. I've accepted (nay - embraced!) the fact that my appearance will suffer a bit during this project. Think about it: what better way to "prove" to myself that happiness and looks are not so tightly intertwined?
Question: What "prize" could motivate you to look a little less put-together on most days? Emotional satisfaction? What kind? Money? How much? Anything else??