Friday, August 19, 2011

Day 147: A Note On Makeup & "Avoidance vs. Acceptance"

It's been an exciting and hectic week for me, thanks to a bit of media attention on this project.   Receiving feedback and encouragement from new readers tuning in from Jezebel, Yahoo, The Globe and Mail, and The Bay Citizen has been eye-opening and encouraging.  I find it rewarding to have started new conversations about body image, and beauty culture.  

Not all of the feedback has been positive, of course.  It's impossible to please everyone, and I'm okay with that.  Yet some of the (constructive?) criticisms have forced me to really ponder things, and in a good way.  Two themes, in particular, gave me pause:  First, some folks seem upset that I'm still wearing makeup most days.  Second, other people are concerned that avoiding mirrors can't possibly improve body image, and that it might actually make it worse.  I think that both of these critiques bring up interesting and intelligent points, so I've decided to respond to them here.

From a reader at Jezebel:
"She is trying to change the way she thinks about herself, but she's still 'putting on a face' for everyone else." 
RESPONSE: I think this would be a fair call-out if the aim of my project were to completely reject our society's beauty norms, and then see what happens.  (Note: I'd also have to abandon deodorant and clothes to reach this standard!)  I think this concept would make for a valuable experiment (any takers??!), but my project and goals are different.

On a personal level, I'm trying to find a balance of beauty practices - and alternatives! - that (1) support positive body image, (2) are in line with my values, and yet which are (3) flexible enough accommodate both my core sense of "self" as well as the variety of social contexts in which my life takes me.  This means that some days I abandon makeup completely (i.e., on Makeup Free Mondays and lazy weekends), but on other days I may choose to wear makeup, whether it's a more glammed-up look for my wedding, or simply a brush of mascara in hopes that it will help me look older and more professional than my students!  Anyway, I'm writing about it all, and learning about myself and our beauty culture in the process, which IS a stated goal for this project. 

From reader at Yahoo:
"Avoidance is not the same as acceptance.  If she truly wanted to accept herself and her body, she'd learn how to look in a mirror without the self-loathing, not avoid it.  If anything, there's more emphasis on equating seeing herself with her own poor self-image...."  (It get's a lot snarkier at this point, so I'm leaving that bit out!)
 Girl Before a Mirror by Picasso
RESPONSE: I agree that avoidance and acceptance are not the same thing, but I know that avoidance can lead to acceptance.  It has worked this way for me.  For example, not looking at myself in the mirror has made me miss all of the things about my body that I like, but wasn't appreciating at the time (when all I could see in the mirror was my less-than-washboard stomach): I miss seeing strong legs, clear skin, bright smile... AND the list of things I love about my body has gotten bigger since this project has started.  

Missing the look of my body has made me appreciate it more... a sort of valuing things that are now scarce.  Yet, the most important thing that is changing isn't the amount of hate or love I have for any certain body part: it's the extent to which my appearance shapes my self-image, overall.  By taking some emphasis OFF of how I look, I can focus more clearly on all of the other things that make me, uniquely, me.  And this, my friends, has been the most delicious and positive change I could have asked for.

Oh, and I DO think that looking in the mirror CAN improve poor body image!  For ideas on ways to do this, see Day 63, Day 67, and Day 139!

Thanks again for all of your interest, support, and - yes - even your critiques!  You've helped me make this project better, smarter, and more likely to cause real change, both in me (I know it!) and (hopefully) for others.  Have a great weekend!

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  1. Kjerstin, congrats on the publicity! That is fantastic! And remember, of course, that if people are taking the time at all to comment, that means that they're engaged by it even if they're being all more-feminist-than-thou.

    Something that I found was that people wanted to reduce the mirror relationship to be one-dimensional: People thought I either was so in love with my own reflection that I had to force myself away from it, or that I didn't like what I saw and was hiding. But, of course, it's so much more complex than that. The mirror relationship speaks to how we feel about ourselves on so many other levels that to boil it down so reductively misses the point. (As do critiques about using makeup--that's not what this experiment is about. As for the person who was all, "Yeah, well, I bet she's conventionally attractive"--yes, you are, and so what? The mirror relationship really has little to do with how we actually appear in the world, and that's something I didn't understand until I tried this out too.

  2. Ah, yes... the "I bet she's conventionally attractive" one threw me a bit. I've written a smidge about the thin-privilege and clear-skin-(finally!)-privilege that I bring with me on this project. I can also add racial privilege, and some class privilege to the mix. These things shouldn't make my project discounted, but instead contextualized: That my "natural" appearance isn't "offensive" (in a subjective sense) certainly limits my insights as being from a very specific social location. Yet, the biases brought on by one's unique social location exist for any writer who comments on his/her own experiences. I try to write reflexively about this, but should probably think more on this issue...

  3. as always, great read, insightful and good for you! please yourself, the rest can like it or not...whatever! At least that's my motto :)

  4. Great idea. I commend you for both your creativity and courage.

  5. Don't you just love that they aren't really responding to YOU, but think they are enlightening the general public by referring to you in the 3rd person! Some people are definitely rude. I am glad you can try to put a positive spin on those comments. I certainly do not think of you as someone with "self-loathing"... I think you are waaaay ahead of that kind of thinking, yes?

    Glad we can all still wear deodorant and be feminine, gorgeous & feminisT at the same time.

    Love you,


  6. I commend you for taking this on especially in a world where many look to the outer beauty of a person and not the inner beauty. Though there are times you feel the need to want to look in the mirror, it all boils down to self image and how you feel about yourself. Anyway, I think you are doing a great job at showing we don't need to look at our outer appearances to know we are all beautiful on the inside and even on the outside without having to look at ourselves everyday to see it

  7. I fully support and love what you're doing, Kjerstin! (Am I allowed to call you KJ?) I too have walked that road of body abuse/loathing to self-esteem and acceptance. I'll keep following your blog, and good luck with your wedding! Enjoy it!

  8. I've sometimes wondered how mirrors affected us socially as a human race. Did they worry this much about appearances before the creation of a manufactured reflection?

    The thing is that people don't seperate their inner self with their outer self. The way our soul is affected versus our the way our ego is. The way you look has less then people think it does to do with your inner person. So "putting on a face" doesn't necessarily mean your trying to improve your self from outside-in in a negative, self loathing, and obsessive way. Make up may actually have a purpose externally.

    Avoiding and accepting are different. But guess what else is different; avioding the mirror and avoiding the issue.

    They may have a negative opinion of what your trying to do, but their relationship to you is a reflection upon their relationship with themselves. As with all people. So their statements about you are really saying more about them.

    Your doing what's best for you, not what's best for them. And everyone has a different lesson to learn and a different way to learn it. Taking their opinion to learn about yourself really the best thing you could do.

    Keep going for it!!!
    You've got my vote.

  9. i love what marilyn said :) i was thinkig the same thing. not to mention the fact that a number of people clearly didn't read the entire article. if you're going to dispute the idea, fine. all are entitled to their thoughts but at least be respectful for crying out loud. most of the comments were just mean.

    so, screw them. if they can't play nice and have the decency to at least reply in a respectful and mature manner, then their words aren't worth your highly valuable time.

    and don't forget, we are all behind you 100% !!

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. great idea :) i love it. seems like a very fun experiment - but i imagine also very challenging! this has definitely made me think about how i think when looking in the mirror. also, have you heard of operation beautiful? she discusses similar topics i.e. body image, fat talk, etc.

    you've probably already gotten this question previously but i'll ask it anyway, do you think your expectations for the outcome of your experiment are affecting the actual outcome you perceive you are experiencing?

  12. Kjerstin,
    What your doing is pretty cool. I wish I could even go to the gym or hell anywhere without putting on makeup but it's a no go. It's my true Achilles heel, I've only left the house without it a handful of times and all those incidents where emergencies. I will always judge everything about myself and it makes me sad. You are a brave girl!!!

  13. I have to say congrats! Your challenge has given me admiration for you. You are very brave for going through this especially before your wedding! I think this is an awesome experiment and I wish you the best of luck with your challenge!

  14. Hi,

    I just read your article on Yahoo and I really find your project interesting. I studied sociology as well and I think this makes for wonderful research. Perhaps after the project, if you are still interested, you should continue something similar, such as make this a challenge for other women (and even men!) and see where the research leads you.

    I haven't read your blog yet, but I will definitely follow your journey to see what happens!


  15. Wow, so I am one of those people who came here after seeing it on Yahoo and I have just spent the past hour and a half reading your entire blog.

    First of all, for all the people saying that the experiment should be done a certain way or would be more effective if you did or didn't do certain things like wearing make up, they are forgetting that this is your experiment for YOU! It is exactly as effective as THIS experiment is. There are no rules for what people can or can't decide for themselves so, enjoy this and learn what you learn!

    I loved a lot of what wrote and laughed out loud a few times but, I can't get past how hard this must be. Not vanity wise but, strategically speaking. I mean you go into averting your eyes a bit and not having to expend the energy avoiding mirrors camping but,didn't you go crazy at first? I mean I can't think of a place I go that there isn't some kind of reflective surface. I give you credit just for the avoidance efforts alone!

    I do have to say there is something about taking a moment looking into the mirror, seeing into your own eyes on the day of your wedding that I'm not sure you wouldn't regret and I for one give you a pass on that day.

    Good Luck!

  16. A my dear Kjerstin,

    I like the idea!!! Just came across your blog from the Yahoo article about you. As I read your first entree I was more interested in the fact that the nuns gazed at the cross while undressing and dressing.

    How Amazing to think that Jesus is looking at them with LOVE..Unconditional love...I tell myself that everyday as I look into my mirror.

    I'm actually obese and single, yet knowing how much I am loved by Jesus gives me such unrestrained confidence!!

    Best of Luck to you always!!!

  17. KJ, I love your commitment to your project. It takes a lot of strength to do something like this and put yourself out there so openly. Keep the great posts coming!

  18. Hi, I'm very interested in this blog. I'm an ugly woman and I struggle with it, so will be interested in your perceptions. I discovered you at Yahoo and the first thing I thought, is I wonder if she's still using makeup. I don't think you've fully taken the plunge. But - I'm going to spend some time reading your blog and sitting with these ideas and will comment further. Thanks for this interesting read.

  19. P.S. Have you read this essay? If not, you simply must. I think all women and girls should read it. It's from a wonderful blog called A Dress A Day.

  20. Hello Kjerstin,

    I have spent the last hour reading back in your blog and I wanted to commend you on your "experiment". I will continue to follow as you approach your wedding day and beyond. Just a reminder: it is your experiment and your can peek in the mirror on your wedding day if you want. Quiet inner reflection is just as good as a mirror reflection on "the day" -- I have no memory of the actual "pause before the mirror" moment on my wedding day and we have just celebrated our 20th anniversary.

    You are beautiful and will be a beautiful bride. Best wishes,

  21. P.S.S. Sorry - don't mean to bombard you. I'm sure you've got tons of emails and comments today. Here is a reaction to the above essay that I wrote on my blog. Hope you are able to find time to read it. Congrats on the press.

  22. Love this experiment. Good luck through to the end. Never mind the snarky comments. Being snarky seems to have become an American pass time.

    One question, silly perhaps, but serious none-the-less. What do you do if you get something in your eye?

  23. Hi, I was also led here by Yahoo, after I recognized your name in the article. I'm actually a sociology student at UCLA and almost took your summer class but had a schedule conflict. So bummed about missing out on that, but hopefully will have another chance to do so in the Spring =) I just read your ENTIRE blog this evening...while I was at work. Really honest and insightful...and entertaining =) Good luck with your wedding and on the rest of this journey!

  24. I have also read your entire blog, start to most recent post.

    Thank you for putting this out there for all of us to see. As a woman in this world, we all struggle with society's expectations. I also have the luxury of being young, and not being physically "offensive", however, as you know, it's never enough. When will it ever be enough? The smallest imperfection is constantly scrutinized. That bulge at the hip area, the acne scars, is our hair shiny enough?, teeth white enough?, brows perfect enough?, lashes thick enough?

    If we all had the courage to ditch the mirrors, the make-up, the spanx undergarments, high heels, curling irons, and millions of other items that have been ingrained in us from the very start, we might all be happier women, with more time to devote to productive activities that benefit ourselves and give back to our societies. Acceptance is something we should probably be striving for. Not necessarily "good enough", but we are "good" and it IS "enough"!

    Your blog has made me simultaneously happy and sad. It's definitely given me an infinite amount of new things to ponder. Clearly you've hit very close to home for me. I'm sure I'll be spending a lot of time in the future trying to figure out what this means to me, and how I'll be using these new insights to at least benefit myself and further my acceptance of myself.

    You're definitely more courageous than I.

    -V V

  25. I think this is an awesome idea. I just saw it it posted on my Yahoo for the first time. I spend on average about 5-15 minutes a day figuring out what to wear. The 15 is when I am trying to make an impression to me or others. I feel so vain and often ask myself and God really "why is what I wear so important"? On days that I am feeling insecure I don't weigh myself because I know that it will add to my mind chatter on how I don't measure up. Let's not even go to bad hair days or my face being a little distorted do to health issues. My question is how much better could we serve God, our families and others if we didn't base our worth on our appearance? As you stated on your very first blog the inner beauty should be our first focus. Not to say that we should not care about the health of our mind body and spirit but we generally put those to the wayside for the externally fleeting things. I am going to forward your blog to my Women's Ministry. I believe that this is a great project and I know that you are going to strengthen many women through this. La Chaim!!! I will be reading and praying for you through this journey:)

  26. Hi, I've just spent the entire morning reading your blog from start to well now! It's great - I too came across via yahoo. Will definitely subscribe (lucky its Saturday hey).

    From reading everything I wanted to mention a couple things - have you read 'Far from the Maddening Crowd' by Thomas Hardy. There is a section right at the start about a girl using a looking glass, its all about her looking at her reflection for her own vanity. When I first read it a few years ago I was struck how 'new' the obsession with mirrors really is. This wasn't normal behaviour. Additionally so with make-up. It use to be very looked down upon for most women to wear makeup - only certain women would do so - stain their lips and cheeks. Otherwise most would pinch their cheeks for a little colour. I find all this somewhat fascinating in terms of human history/culture and what's expected. It always stands out if you read Jane Austen, Charles Dickens how much things have changed (I'm not saying things are better/worse just how ideals change).

    For my own experience I lived for 4.5 years with half a mirror. The house I lived in I could see my top half (old fashioned dresser table) or if I stood on the bed I could see my bottom half but not together. I'd try to bend but it never really worked. I use to sometimes use the reflection in the shower screen to see the full length! When I was out I'd sometimes come across full mirrors and think... hmmm those shoes really don't go or wow that outfit actually looks great!

    What I noticed is that NO ONE noticed!

    Similar with makeup, I did for many many years go without any makeup, I didn't like the feel of it on my skin and I'd rather stay in bed those extra 5 minutes. Now I wear tinted moisturizer and powder and that's it. Though if I have an event or important meeting I wear makeup - not sure why I do that but feel like I'll be taken more seriously - which is slightly strange/telling.

    My final personal experience comment is... I teach swing dancing once a week and every week we make videos of the class for our students. Watching these back is always horrible, every week I think 'ergh I need to lose weight, why did I wear that etc' but recently I re-watched some from a year ago and thought 'actually I'm quite slim there and that outfit looks fine'. I remember having my normal thoughts when these were first video-ed but a year on I seem to have some distance/perspective. I now try not to be too harsh on my current videos and hope in time I'll like them too. So I think if you don't look at your wedding photos until the end of the year you'll be reliving memories with fresh eyes.

    Good luck on the journey. Sarah

  27. I also just came across your blog through Yahoo!, and I think that this is an awesome idea.

    I'm sure tons of people are going to try to throw some of their own ideas at you about "avoidance" and what it really means for self esteem, but you've got to do what works for you, and you know that. More power to you for understanding yourself enough to TRY to help yourself.

    I wish you the best of luck with this. When I have more time I'll read through your whole blog, because I am very interested in your insights throughout this process.

  28. I admire what you're doing, but I wonder about one thing: eyebrows and upper-lip hair. I have mine waxed every few months or so. BUt, I do the maintenance in between. This means tweezing any stray eyebrow hairs every one or two days. Without a mirror, what do you do about facial hair?? Seriously, I need to know!

  29. Love what you are doing. The body image thing happens for women of all ages I think, but for possibly different reasons. From the perspective of a 50 year old, I've watched my body change due to age/menopause stuff. I've never had a tiny waist, but it's thicker now. The top half of me seems to be getting bigger while the bottom half stays the same, giving the illusion of becoming stocky. I'm not upset necessarily by this, but it's odd to watch the body I always have had start to morph into a different body. The eyesight starts changing in the 40's for most people as well. I've started a blog of sorts where I encourage women over 40 to send in photos of themselves in styles that they find are flattering to their *now* bodies. I want to learn what works for women older than me, so I can anticipate what is to come, and appreciate what I am becoming. I think sometimes it's change that we are afraid of, not necessarily the shape we have, as we get older. I don't know anyone over 50 who sincerely wants to be 20 again. We want to be strong and healthy, yes. We want to look our best, yes. So I'm trying to explore that at If you have any adventurous older women you know, have them come over and take a look and give their input as well:)

  30. Oops, I mean

    Barb Hughes

  31. I LOVE this project! I was fairly obsessed with the way I look for a really long time, spending hours in front of a mirror to get just the "right" look. When I got to college, I cut most of the mirrors in my life out. I now have 3 in my whole apartment - 1 in each bathroom and one full-length in my bedroom. I forget about the full-length mirror most days. I commend you on giving yourself time to reset your perception and miss things about your body that you love! When I look in a mirror now, instead of seeing that imperfect thing, I see something I like. Granted, it's still a battle occasionally, but I feel more confident walking out the door and I like to play up MY favorite parts of my body - NOT what society says I should play up (I love my collarbones. I think they're lovely. But PLEASE never a mini skirt!). I'm impressed and plan to share this with several girls I know! :)

  32. Woo woo! way to go girl!! I am totally following! I saw this popular piece and thought you'd enjoy it... because hun YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!!!!

    Get Off The Scale!

    You are beautiful. Your beauty, just like your capacity for life, happiness, and success, is immeasurable. Day after day, countless people across the globe get on a scale in search of validation of beauty and social acceptance.

    Get off the scale! I have yet to see a scale that can tell you how enchanting your eyes are. I have yet to see a scale that can show you how wonderful your hair looks when the sun shines its glorious rays on it. I have yet to see a scale that can thank you for your compassion, sense of humor, and contagious smile. Get off the scale because I have yet to see one that can admire you for your perseverance when challenged in life.

    It’s true, the scale can only give you a numerical reflection of your relationship with gravity. That’s it. It cannot measure beauty, talent, purpose, life force, possibility, strength, or love. Don’t give thescale more power than it has earned. Take note of the number, then get off the scale and live your life. You are beautiful!

    ©Steve Maraboli

  33. I turn 40 in Sept and am a single BLIND Mom. As I lost my sight and had to give up makeup and change the way I dressed I struggled with body image. Now, I feel a sense of freedom. When I feel good about the way I look it is because I know I am healthy and my hair reflects that and my skin glows and my clothes fit well. I am still a 40ish Mom and my body shows it. My self-esteem improved enough that I was able to get out of a poor marriage and embrace myself and the role in life I have - Mom. I am healthy for myself and my son. I know that has little to do with my style.

  34. Kjerstin, I found your blog through Yahoo! and think it's fantastic! I, too, am a recovered anorexic and have fought clinical depression. In addition I recently got married and dealt with similar struggles regarding wedding gown shopping. I'm very inspired by your project and story, so please keep it up and enjoy the wedding process (customs, traditions, gatherings) and day with your families!

  35. Just saw an article about you on Yahoo. I didn't even finish reading before I realized how absolutely brilliant this idea is. I am seriously considering doing the same thing. Here's my reasoning - every single time I get ready to go out, have some fun with my friends, date with my husband - I spend forever getting ready. I feel amazing, I feel hot and gorgeous - and my attitude reflects that. I am completely self confident. I don't own a full length mirror. Then, when I'm out - I catch a glimpse of myself somewhere - a bathroom, reflection in a window, and the mental image never matches the actuality. Never. I feel fat, ugly - I just don't measure up to society's "norm" when it comes to beauty. I am so TIRED of having my good moments ripped away by a mirror. It messes with my head on a daily basis.

    That's why I am so excited to hear about something like this - something I'd never thought of. I admire you so much! Thanks so much for doing this and letting others know. It's great and I plan to tell everyone I can. Good luck with this!!

  36. I can't figure out why people are trying to make the rules for YOUR project.. Please don't listen to the harsh comments and just do what makes YOU happy. Nobody can tell you what you are 'supposed' to be doing because they don't know.. you are doing it for yourself, not for them. Good luck with everything! Keep your chin up!!

  37. Hi, I'm a new reader. I think your project is awesome! Just wanted to comment on the tanners. I know this is totally off topic from this post, but I wasn't sure if you'd see it on the self tanner post since it's a ways back. As a white pasty gal myself I've tried lots of self tanners (seriously, a lot) and the best ones I've EVER found come in a mist form. I just got one from Sally's (you can get it online too) that is amazing! It smells a little chocolaty but other than that has no nasty weird smell and the color is great! It also has a bronzer in it so you can see where you're spraying it. It drys really quick so you don't have to have the awkward naked time waiting for it to dry lol. If you scrub it off on like a towel or whatever it's like a redish brown color instead of orange brown like other self tanners which I thought was more fitting with my pink undertones....I just used it for my sisters wedding and I thought it looked great. hope that helps! good luck! Oh and it's called Body Drench, I promise they're not paying me to advertise, but now that I think about it they probably should lol.

  38. Hi Kjerstin!

    Just read the yahoo article about your project. It caught my attention because a month or so ago I posted a note on facebook about avoiding looking in the mirror when trying to get in shape to actually notice results every week, which in my opinion would help with self-confidence and motivation to continue the health fitness campaign.

    Your story is awesome! I am excited for you. I was wondering your fiance, or family member(s) or friend(s) taking daily pictures and/or video of you and keeping track of what you look like from an outside perspective during this challenge? Obviously they wouldn't show you, but it would be really cool to have a photo album illustrating the story from day 1 up to your wedding. =)

  39. Hello, Kjerstin! I read about your project and blog on Yahoo and just wanted to comment. I think this is a great personal project to have taken on. When a lot of people look in the mirror, they don't really see what others see. They focus on their not-perfectly-flat stomach or the zit on their chin, when other people might not notice those things at all. And I love that you're doing a blog to document your insights. Perhaps you will inspire other women to stop focusing so much on what they see in the mirror.

    Also, while I understand where your makeup detractors are coming from (I actually stopped wearing makeup this spring because I think women are beautiful without makeup and I'm no longer willing to conform to socially-constructed beauty norms that tell women we all need to hide our skin "flaws," make our eyes look larger, and have a blush on our cheek that could either indicate health or arousal, all so that we look young and nubile), because makeup does feed into society's unachievable beauty standards of youth and perfection, I do like your response. You have set the parameters for your year, and you aren't trying to totally rebel from the system (as you note, unless you want to become a nudist, that would be difficult - and as a fellow Ph.D. student, I cannot imagine the choice to become a nudist working out well unless you taught all of your classes online and Skyped with your dissertation committee, as there are laws against public nudity). You've made a progressive change in your life, and if some people are upset that you didn't make a radical change, then perhaps they should do something about it and make those radical changes themselves. From a scientific point of view, it's like you are doing an experiment - you don't want to have too many variables at play, otherwise you won't know which variable may have lead to which outcome.

  40. I also came across your blog from Yahoo and I think what you are doing is fantastic! Kudos to you and its even gotten me considering all the implications mirrors have on our lives as I am most definitely a culprit of checking out my appearance most times when I see a reflective surface. Also, I think you look gorgeous! You are a beautiful woman and I think whether you plan to look at yourself or not in a mirror on your wedding day, you will be stunning! :)

  41. Your task is a big undertaking and has actually got me thinking about how I see myself in a mirror and how I feel about myself without. The other night I was trying on clothes and feeling pretty big. I cried in the mirror as I felt nothing looked good on me and I would not look good to others. My husband came over hugged me and told me he loved me. I was glad but still wanted to feel a little pretty anyways. Later that night after deciding ice cream would solve the problem I was in my favorite PJ's cuddling with my daughter and laughing and my husband said to us, "What a beautfil site I see right now" Well I cried more but got it. I felt happy and beautiful. Now finding your site...I am going to try hard to look at what i do love (I am with you on the hands thing) about myself and how my smile makes me feel good always. Thank you and keep it up.

  42. Kjerstin,
    I, like many of those commenting now, discovered your blog via Yahoo. As a studying (albeit new) psychology student I quickly became interested in the overall project you have decided to undergo and what you plan to and accomplish learning from the experience. I look forward to my own projects and experiments as I grow as a student and individual.

    With each new post you seem to be discovering more about yourself and the world around you, finding confidence and addressing aspects about yourself that you feel you could improve upon.

    As to those that feel you need to "step it up" and do more in this experiment... I have to wonder if they have truly considered the purpose at all or what you have already gained from it. The most important I found to be the trust you have found in those around you. Not all will agree with my analysis of course and I do not expect them to. However you set out to do this with something in mind, never lose sight of that and do so as you see fit not as others deem necessary.

    I wish you the best of luck in all that you do and will continue to follow this intriguing blog.

  43. i dont fully understand the purpose of this project. someone pls explain. Why not always look your best? whats wrong with that? being well dressed and looking presentable is good manners. Is this intended for people who become obsessed or overwhelmed???

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  45. Thank you.

    Those two words probably seem very insignificant to your daily life going on, and you probably will never read this comment; but to me those two words mean everything.

    I never liked myself. Never. I actually would draw pictures of myself to show myself what is ugly about me, so I would constantly know what I needed to fix. I would stand in front of mirrors, and I would pick at every part of my body that I hated. I got to the point where I tried throwing up to loose weight, but I was too scared to do it, so I tried starving myself...that didn't go over well either.

    Its funny because I was online looking at other ways for me to loose weight(and not in a healthy way) and I just happened to go on Yahoo and I saw your story,and usually I wouldn't read something like this that talking about loving yourself (because obviously I didn't love myself) but something pulled me to read it, so I did. I read for hours all your blogs, laughing and crying and I had an "ah-ha" moment:

    beauty is in the eye of the beholder. and that beholder, is me. I need to see the rare uniqueness I give to this world.I am TIRED of hating myself. All.The.Time. Its constant hate everyday. I want to bring the power of what beauty is back to myself. I want peace within myself.

    So, I am going to take the challenge of not looking in the mirror for a month. I am going to stop focusing on what I look like, and start focusing I who I am. I am beautiful, strong, smart, and kind. I don't need a mirror to tell me that.

    Please don't listen to these idiots that are saying negative things about you. They just don't understand what this really means to do. they don't have enough depth to understand, and its not their fault.

    you saved me from making a life threatening decision. you saved me, so I thank you.

    please keep posting blogs, I would love to read more of your adventure in loving yourself through life.

    Love, JEC

  46. I so disagree with the reader from Yahoo. It is as though the mirror is setting a standard and that we must accept them simply because they exist. Isn't it the same as saying we must watch television because they exist or drive a car because they exist or use a cell phone because they exist. Why give a mirror any power at all?

  47. I think this is an exercise in dicipline. It is a great concept as long as it doesn't become an obsession. After the one year then go back to a "normal" relationship with your mirror. The only aside would be on your wedding day. That day you should forget about the challenge and absolutely look in the mirror. Sure, that is time you could be spending with your grandparents, but as a grandmother myself, I would tell you not to miss that special moment with YOURSELF. Most of us will only be a bride once in our life and that is something you can't get back if you miss the opportunity.

  48. I don't think it's fair for readers to judge you on your own personal project. If they don't like it, they don't need to read it. But I've loved reading all your entries in just 1.5 days. I appreciate what you are doing and it makes me think. You are honest about breaking your own rules (they're YOUR rules for crying out loud, it's not fair for your readers to try to enforce them). Thank you so much for sharing. I'm learning new things and thinking new thoughts.

  49. What is the artwork in this post? I really like it!

  50. stfunny - the artwork is Girl Before Mirror by Picasso! I have updated the image to give credit where due. Thanks for pointing that out!

  51. Mirror shows your reflection, that you even examine yourself in it that even in your bathroom with screen showers, you look at yourself. This was a nice post revealing things about such topic.

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