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."
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|
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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