Sunday, November 27, 2011

Day 248: Mantra Monday - A Place for Everything and Everything in its Place

A Place for Everything, and Everything in its Place...
Beautiful!  Just Beautiful!  Anybody want to lend me a label-maker?? :)
I was a horribly messy child.  I kept my room in complete disarray and when ordered to clean, I often just piled everything together and threw it all away.  (My mother still hasn't recovered from the time I lost 3 weeks worth of school lunch tickets using this method on my desk at school!)  In contrast, my sister Hanna, has always loved being organized.  She collected school supplies as a child just for the pleasure of arranging things by color and size.  Sheesh!

Buy this book for your messiest kid friend!
I still frequently struggle to stay organized.  But at some point during college I turned a corner.  My messiness finally started interfering with my life in a way I couldn't tolerate.  I learned that -  in addition to keeping up with my assignments with less havoc - I even sleep better when my room is organized and things are put away.  (This, coming from a girl who frequently slept with books, laundry, and junk piled high on the other side of my bed. Come to think of it, perhaps my desire to be tidier was at least partially motivated by my desire to someday have a boyfriend who wanted to sleep over!)  Anyway, I know I'll never innately keep things tidy, but I've gotten to a point where I crave order like crack, and am willing to put in the time and work to achieve it.  

I can honestly say that the book, What To Do When Your Mom or Dad Says... CLEAN YOUR ROOM! changed my life.  It taught me some basic tips for organizing mess.  I actually brought it with me when I left for college.  (Okay... my mom tucked it into a suitcase for me to find... but it worked!)  My favorite tip: first, pile all your mess on your bed so you've got enough room to move around while you clean.  (Apparently it took me a few years to get past this first step!)

This is what my bathroom looked like the last
time I moved... well, before I organized it!  Oh boy.
Well, this week  I'm FINALLY moving out of my place in Los Angeles, completely.  Although my body has been in San Francisco for months, all of my furniture and plenty of my "stuff" stayed in L.A.. Hence, my motivational mantra is "A Place for Everything and Everything in its Place" in hopes that it will promote a smooth transition.  

One concern: how in the heck am I going to organize my vast-and-overwhelming makeup collection into "keep" and "toss" piles if I can't try everything on in front of a mirror??  I guess I can go with a sniff-test for things that aren't good anymore, but that will probably leave A LOT in the keep pile...  Any suggestions?  A time limit on the last time I used each item?  How about throw out anything over a certain number of months/years old???  How would you do this?  I really (really) should not bring it all to San Francisco...

P.S. - I know a lot of you were worried about this.... I'm happy to report that Michael aced his first time grocery-shopping with our shared grocery list!  Other than buying unsalted butter (yuk!) instead of salted, he left nothing out, and didn't come home with any extras (ahem, Fruity Pebbles and Cheez-its of days-gone-by).  Way to go Michael!  You rock!

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Day 241: Mantra Monday - Trust, Faith & Patience

"Trust, Faith & Patience"
I am not a patient person.  I often joke that "patience is a virtue... just not one of mine!"  When I make a decision, I want it done yesterday.  When I'm waiting on somebody else to make a decision... well... it causes a lot of anxiety.   I know this is a feature of my personality that might never change much.  But sometimes I feel like I'd rather get bad news than wait not knowing, which is pretty  illogical!  I can also be really demanding of people once "we" have made up our minds to do something... other folks like to ease into transitions, but I push them.  This causes strain in my relationships.
So this week I'm trying to cultivate patience, by focusing on (1) my trust that other people do the best they can with what they have, and (2) my faith that things really will be alright no matter what.  Three issues, in particular, present a challenge:

(1) I MIGHT have a buyer for my condo in Los Angeles.  The sale will be far below what I'd hoped to get, but it's a tough market, and the neighboring condo unit recently went through a short-sale, which pretty much screwed my building for the foreseeable future. Anyway, the buyer seems like a good fit.  We're in escrow, but that's not the same as a done deal.  My fingers are crossed, and my blood pressure is high.

(2) Michael and I have been bickering about household chores.  I think he isn't pulling his weight, and he thinks he's made a ton of progress since we first met (which he has!) and also that my standards and expectations are too high (hrmmm...).  There have been a few tears and some sharp words.  Michael has pledged his commitment to reaching fairness on this issue, and I know that he means it.  But I know that this will require meeting in the middle, and I'm incredibly anxious about this strange idea of lowering my standards and giving up some control.  Can a former anorexic with continuing food issues trust her husband to do the grocery shopping?!? 

(3) Finally, I've been struggling to trust my body.  Several months ago I was diagnosed with clinical depression and went on a much-needed antidepressant regime.  (Read more about this on Day 98).  Thankfully, the meds have done their job; I've felt like my happy-and-motivated self again (hooray!!!).  BUT, a side effect of one of my medications is increased - ahem, voracious! - appetite.  (I can seriously eat a huge meal and feel hungry again, stomach growling, within 30-45 minutes.)  So, I've gained some weight and am now fighting the urge to become obsessive about food and exercise.

Extreme diets are bad, bad, news, so this week's mantra will remind me to be patient with my body.  I need to continue following Weight Watchers online (which my doctor and therapist approve of), and trust that being moderate and mindful - instead of extreme - will pay off in the end, even if it takes me a little longer to fit into my favorite clothes again (last week I bent over and split a seam in a cherished pair of pants!).  Luckily, I also have Michael's support on this last issue.  He has forbidden me from crash-dieting, and actually seems to like the extra flesh!  (Check out the sweet note he wrote me last week before he left of a business trip.)

I have wondered if not looking in the mirror contributed at all to this weight-gain.  I suppose it's possible, but I prefer to focus on the idea that not looking in the mirror will protect me from over-reacting to gaining weight, whatever the cause.  

Trust, faith & patience please!

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Day 238: Fun Fact Friday - 2 Mirror Movies?!?

I'm keeping todays "fun fact" short, sweet, and highly audio-visual!  The trailers for two upcoming films were recently released.  Both retell the classic Grimm's fairy tale, Snow White.  Since the title of my blog borrows from the famous "Mirror, Mirror, On The Wall....Who's the Fairest of them All?" quote from Disney's most evil queen, and especially since both of these trailers manage to squeeze that phrase into the preview, I can't wait to watch (and then over-analyze) the full feature films!  In the meantime, I've collected youtube videos of (1) the Disney "original" Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, (2) Mirror, Mirror, and (3) Snow White and the Huntsman for your own viewing pleasure.  (BTW, I find it interesting that - in both of the new films - it is the evil queen rather than Snow White whose presence dominates the trailers)


MIRROR, MIRROR (March 2012)


Okay, is it just me, or does Snow White and the Huntsman not look TOTALLY BADASS??  Not that I don't adore Julia Roberts.... :)

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Day 236: An Interview With My Mother-in-Law About (Her) Cosmetic Surgery

Michael and his mom, Sherry, dancing at our wedding.  He is SUCH a mama's boy. :)
A few weeks after Michael and I started dating he told me that I reminded him of his mother.  We'd been circling a parking lot for ages.  A spot opened up 50 yards behind us, so I hopped out of the car, sprinted to the space, and boldly (I think) "reserved" it for us, much to the chagrin of the other circlers.  When Michael told me this reminded him of his mother, I said I'd learned the technique from my mom.  I think he was impressed, but so was I.  With that, Michael's mom, Sherry, became a bit of a legend in my mind: strong-willed, opinionated, passionate about her causes, and always up for a good time.  (Gosh, she does sound a lot like me - except fun!)  Sherry is a former high school art teacher, and breast cancer survivor.  Again, kind of awesome, but - to be honest - I was also intimidated.  Michael is a bit of a mama's boy, and I worried that Sherry wouldn't approve of me.  After all, we also had some differences, mostly political, though I also knew that she hated tattoos (I have 2).  Another difference, which I'll talk about more below, is how we approach the the problem of not always being happy with our bodies: I say "change your mind," and Sherry says "change your body."  (Well, that's what she says about her body, anyway.)

To make a long story short, my fears of us not getting along were unfounded.  We like each other a lot, and have tons of fun together.  (It helps that we mostly avoid politics, and that we both adore Michael!)  Sherry's been my shopping partner-in-crime, and she made - yes made - the pearl necklace I wore on my wedding day.  We've grown closer over the past 3 years, so it's an honor that she's trusted me to interview her for my blog, on a topic many women don't feel comfortable discussing: her experiences with cosmetic surgery.

As I said above, with the exception of my anorexic era, I've tried to address my own body image woes by changing the way I think.  Sherry has tackled the same problem, but in a different way: by changing her body.  Cosmetic surgery is a tough topic for us body-image activists.  Much like dieting, it's one of those "patriarchal bargains" women make (see Day 98 for a definition & discussion of my dieting-while-feminist angst).  I kind of hate the idea of cosmetic surgery, while also sometimes wondering what I'd look like with bigger boobs and only one chin (they have an app for that!). As a feminist, I'm loath to tell other women what to do with their bodies.  It seems hypocritical to be pro-choice when it comes to abortion, but a condescending bitch when it comes to plastic surgery.  On this topic, I tell my students: "don't hate the players, hate the game." And I mean it.  Another thing I tell my students is, "if you want to learn, you've got to listen more than speak."  So that's what I've decided to do for the rest of this post.  Here's what Sherry - an actual "player" in this game - had to say.  I hope you learn as much as I did.

Says the grape to the raisin...
KJ: Thanks for talking to me about this stuff.  A lot of women have cosmetic surgery, but keep it a secret.  You've always been very open about your surgeries.  Why?
Sherry: Well, first, it's nothing I'm ashamed of.  So I'm not ashamed to tell people I'm having it done, and then afterward they won't be shocked about it.  They'd know anyway, and nobody would want to say anything.  I want people to feel comfortable around me, including after a procedure.  I don't want them to feel like they can't mention it or for people to act like they don't notice.  For me, since I'm not embarrassed, it's more about making other people feel comfortable.
KJ: So, what cosmetic procedures have you had?
Sherry: Well, I had maxilloficial surgery on my jaw almost twenty-five years ago.  It was for my bite - I was wearing down my teeth!  But it also changed my look.  I got breast implants about 20 years ago, but I removed them with my cancer surgery.  The radiation and surgery had really deformed my left breast, so they did reconstruction. Since then one of 'em shrunk up again, but it's fine.  I don't care.
KJ: Ummm... what do you mean, "shrunk up"?
Sherry: Well radiation treats your boobs like the oven treats a roast.  When you cook them, they shrink and harden a bit.  It's not the same piece of meat after it comes out of the oven, right? It's like that with radiation, even after the reconstruction surgery and new implants.
KJ: Yowza!  I get it now. Did having breast cancer change the way you think of your body?
Sherry: I feel like I'm supposed to say yes, but it just didn't.  I was relieved about my breast reconstruction, but I mostly just tried to get on my life.  I survived cancer but I don't think of myself as a cancer survivor.  It's not my identity.  It happened to me, but didn't change the direction of my life.  By the way, I saw my oncologist today and got the green light for another 6-months!
KJ: That's fantastic!  Congratulations and thanks for sharing the news! 
Sherry: Yeah, it feels good.
KJ: Okay, so getting back on topic, what other procedures have you had done?
Sherry:  I had a brow lift and got my eyelids done.  That was several years ago.  And then just a few weeks ago I got a lift for my lower face and neck.  It was called a something-a-plasty, but I don't remember the exact word!  I'm still healing from that.  Everything feels really tight and swollen, but I think it'll look great in about a month.
KJ: I hope so!  Having surgery can be dangerous, and I know that the recovery is painful.  Have you ever thought "gosh, this isn't worth it!"? 
Sherry: No, I've always been pleased with my results, and I don't dwell on the procedure. I just think of the outcome.  Frankly, after all the surgeries I've had with my cancer, and on my feet - my foot bones were destroyed by the chemo - well, I'm used to medical procedures and at least these are ones I want to be having!
KJ: I know Michael thinks you already look beautiful, and he worries about you when you have surgery.  How have your other family members reacted?
Sherry: Well, after my brow lift my dad told me that I didn't need to be doing all this stuff to myself.  I actually didn't tell my parents about this last procedure because I didn't want them to worry about it.  Their health isn't great.  I wasn't planning to tell the kids, for the same reason. I don't want them to worry either.  I'm not afraid that they'll try to talk me out of things since that's pretty impossible once I've made my mind up.  Doug, my husband, knows that I'm very hard-headed and that I'm not gonna let it go.  So after listening to me for months he just says "go ahead and do it if that's what you want."  Since he's busy and not particularly happy about it, I haven't asked him to do anything for me while I'm recovering.  I even took a cab on the morning of my surgery.  He was there for me with my cancer, but I do this on my own.  I'm very independent.
KJ: So I have to ask: have your surgeries made you more confident about your looks?
Sherry: Absolutely.  I'm very vain about my personal appearance and how I look.   I like my face, I don't want to change my nose or eyes or features, but I like to look younger.  I love my husband very much; it's not like I'm going out to find a new man or anything like that!  But youthfulness is important to me, and I think about how other people see me.
(she pauses)
I don't know exactly how to say this, but my mom never gave me a compliment on my looks.  I was painfully thin my whole life. We'd go shopping together, and she would sigh and complain that 'oh the clothes won't fit you."  Nothing I ever did looked good enough for her. Nothing.  I had buck teeth, the whole deal.  They paid for braces, thankfully.  Anyway, I always had low self-esteem., starting from my mother's comments, I think.  It wasn't intentionally mean or spiteful or anything like that, it was just the way she was raised.  She just never made it a point to help me feel pretty. The first time she told me she loved me I was 40 or something.  Anyway, I was always out looking to prove that I could be pretty.  And then, once I realized I was pretty, I just kept going with it! (laughs)
KJ: Wow, I didn't know that.  Did that shape how you think of being a mom?
Sherry: When Michael's sister, Mandy, was born, I didn't want a repeat of what my past was.  I mean, I think that's a big part of why I am the way I am.  When Mandy was a little girl I made sure to tell her all the time how pretty she was, and how beautiful her hair was.  I didn't want the first person to tell her she's pretty to be some guy trying to get down her pants.  I wanted her to already have that confidence coming into adulthood, from her family.
KJ: That's really cool. I'll have to talk to Mandy about some of this.  Okay, last question: when have you felt your most beautiful?
Sherry: Hrmmm... that's tough.  Probably in my 30s, when Doug and I were in those first years of being in love, and when my children were little babies.  I felt really beautiful then.
KJ: It sounds magical.  I wish I knew you then!  Okay, is there anything else you want to tell me - and my blog readers - that I haven't thought to ask?
Sherry: Nah.  I'll just say again that I think its so important for mothers to build self-esteem for little girls at a very young age, so they have confidence and feel pretty.  They shouldn't have to hear some boy telling them that to take advantage of them.  All girls deserve to feel pretty and loved, even if they have flaws.
KJ: I couldn't agree more!

THE END. Thank you for sharing your story, Sherry.  
You're everything Michael told me about and more! :)

So, readers, tell me: what are you thinking?  
We've covered a lot of topics here, including: 
- relationships with our mothers-in-law 
- plastic surgery
- being secretive vs. open about having plastic surgery 
- and (of course) those things our mothers tell us that we never forget.  

I'd love some feedback on this post, and your thoughts about these important topics.  Just remember: in my house we critique ideas, not people!
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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Day 233: Monday's Mantra - Boring is Beautiful

Boring is Beautiful!

This is my weirdest mantra so far, but I'm warming up to it.  

Several times in the past few weeks I've felt painfully bored by my morning makeup routine.  It's been almost identical each day (except No-Makeup Mondays!!) since the project started, and I've missed the creativity involved in asking myself: is today a "dramatic eyeliner day"? Is it a "plummy lip-stain day"?  Is it a "dramatic doll-faced pink blush day"?  Instead, it's been a "lightly-applied foundation, sheer blush, neutral eyeshadow, and Maybelline Great Lash Waterproof mascara day"... for the past 233 days!  I'm starting to feel not just bored, but (gasp!) boring.  

I've been lusting over makeup and makeovers, feeling somehow less-than-glamourous without the flexibility to play around and actually see the results.  Last week I tried to quell this feeling with a box of hair-dye from Walgreens, but with only so-so results.  (FYI, from what I can see, the drabness has washed out and my hair and it's back to... well... normal. Which is, again, kind of boring!) My wedding day was an exception.  And a welcome one at that!  I admit to oggling my photos frequently these past weeks.  I've become particularly attached to the makeup-application pics. Seeing that wash of violet eyeshadow and the vibrance of a berry-stained lip... delight!  But the wedding is over and I'm back to softly (blindly!) blended sheer neutrals.  Poor me, right?

But I had to check myself.  Something about this I'm-so-boring angst feels wholly antagonistic to the intentions I've had and the lessons I've learned in the past months.

When I came up with my no-mirrors makeup routine at the start of this project, I remember feeling gloriously beautiful.  I was proud I'd learned to apply makeup without a mirror, and even more proud to have cut back on the number of products I used.  I remember thinking I was on my way to becoming one of those sexy women who have their own "look" and own it, every single day.  I'm determined to get back to that kind of thinking.

Jackie Kennedy didn't become a style icon for mixing things up all the time.  Neither did Audrey Hepburn.  (Or Katherine Hepburn for that matter!)  Even modern fashion icons, like Gwen Stefani, or Alexa Chung, seem to own a signature look.  Sure, Carrie Bradshaw had a new pair of shoes and a new crazy-cute hairstyle for every day of her (fictional) life, but who has the time - or the budget! - for that?  Besides, the constant change was her signature, no?

Anyway, what I'm getting around to is this: consistency in one's style can be just as glamorous as changing it frequently.  Maybe even more glamourous if you can cultivate that quiet confidence that (I assume) comes with knowing yourself, your features, and your style well enough to BE that person every day.  I imagine this type of woman has a closet full of "quality" instead of "quantity".  She has signature scent, a signature lipstick (or perhaps a signature smudged rocker-chic eyeliner!), and doesn't change her hair style or color every time she goes to the salon (or Walgreens!).

I know I'll never be 100% "that woman".  I find enormous pleasure in trying new things, and I'm not going to ignore that side of my personality.  For example, tonight, I decided to quell the crazies by painting my fingernails with my usual pedicure polish, and my toenails with my usual manicure polish; it was a fun (free!) change, and yet, the same. But there's an important lesson to be learned about coming back to things that work, and not getting caught up in the endless hoopla of chasing trends.  So, for this week, I'm reminding myself to attach feelings of glamour to my daily routines.  

Do you have a "signature" anything?  Do tell! :)

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Day 231: Fun Fact Friday - The Moneychanger and His Wife and Some Creepy Guy Reflected in the Mirror

The Moneychanger and His Wife, by Quentin Massys, is perhaps the most famous image illustrating economic activity in our world's modern-ish history.  Painted in 1514, it now hangs in the Louvre in Paris, which pretty much confirms that it is "important art".

Some art historians note that the husband is counting gold coins while the wife reads a religious text, believing that this communicates "subtly hinted conflict between avarice and prayer."  Huh.  Yeah, I guess I could be convinced of that....

But I'm more interested in that shiny round mirror sitting on the table.  What's that about?  If you look really closely, this is what you'll find reflected in the mirror:
Who IS that guy?  I think Sir Creepy's identity will remain a mystery, though the man's relatively normal proportions suggest to me that Massys struggled a bit with the image.  See how the window next the figure follows a convex pattern?  Massys clearly knew the image ought to be distorted, but it looks like he couldn't quite pull it off with the mystery man.  (And in the Louvre!?!  Huff. Puff.)

This brings me to a second fun fact: why is the mirror convex in the first place? After consulting The Mirror: A History, I learned that convex mirrors were a sign of the technologically-challenged times.  I quote: "After the ball of glass was blown, melted lead was poured into a concave bowl and was then removed.   The mirror was never larger than what could be cut from the glass ball, and the curvature gave it a bulging shape that can be found in Flemish paintings [ahem!] and German engravings of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries."

Very cool! Once again, I learn something new every (Fun Fact Fri)day!  I hope you do too. Have a great weekend! ;)

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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Day 226: Mantra Monday "Good enough is good enough"

Good Enough is Good Enough!

Getting married has definitely taken the edge off of my concerns about appearance. Some might accuse me of teetering on the edge of "letting myself go" but I don't think that's the case.  Instead, without a wedding looming, I'm simply feeling braver with my beauty choices; I take more risks, and am more forgiving of myself.  How do I know?  Two examples:

First: before the wedding I was too scared to use Retin-A as part of my skincare routine.  It's the absolute best way to keep my skin clear (and wrinkles at bay!), but it also makes my face peel and flake like crazy, especially in the first few months of use.  I was terrified to have flakey skin on my wedding day, so I stopped using it completely when I did away with mirrors.  In other words, I wussed out.   But a few weeks ago I started using it again, applying a pea-sized amount to my face on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Fridays (as suggested by the dermatologist who I no longer have enough health-insurance to visit).  Now, every few days, when I wash my face my skin kind of peels off in my hands, but I don't care anymore because I'm not about to be the center of attention at a wedding.  I exfoliate with a washcloth, slap on some moisturizer, and move along with my day.  Who's a wuss now?!?

Second: A few weeks before the wedding I paid almost $160 to have my hair cut and highlighted by - in my opinion - the best hairstylist in St. Louis (where I grew up, and where my parents live now).  Cinthia is amazing, and I wanted my hair to look fantastic on the big day. Having seen the photos, I know she did a stellar job.  But according to friends, the highlights are now growing out, my roots are growing in, and it's time for a touch-up.  Of course, I can't actually afford to have my hair colored professionally anymore (heck, I couldn't afford it the first time!).  So yesterday I decided to buy a box of hair dye at Walgreens and tackle the problem on my own.  For $10.

Not so light blonde...
I was nervous, don't get me wrong, but I've colored my own hair countless times in the past, so it seemed like a reasonable course of action.  My natural hair color is somewhere between medium-blonde and light-blonde, so I chose a box claiming to be "Light Natural Blonde".  I thought it might be fun to brighten things up a bit, while blending away the highlights.  

Except I don't think the color turned out exactly as I'd planned.  I followed the directions exactly, but after I dried my hair the ends looked a bit darker (and dingier) than they had before.  Ugh!  How bad is it?  Well... probably not too horrible.  I saw my friend Liz a few hours later, and she didn't say anything until I asked.  "Yeah, I noticed that it looks darker, but I just thought it might just be the light!" she admitted.  She's too kind.  Sigh...  Liz assured me that the highlights were gone, and that it definitely "didn't look like an accident."  I've decided that having hair that "doesn't look like an accident," - even if it's kind of dark and dingy - will have to suffice.  With luck, it will fade to my natural color and I won't even have to "touch up" the roots with more dark-n-dingy dye!  In the meantime, good enough will be good enough.

Oh, and Michael didn't! even! notice!  (Granted, he is colorblind AND currently suffering from a horrible bout of food poisoning, so probably wouldn't have noticed if I'd dyed it black!)  Anyway, my mantra for the week was almost "It's just hair, calm yourself girl!" but I decided that "Good Enough is Good Enough" had the potential to extend to other areas of my life.  Eating sporadic holiday munchies instead of 3 balanced meals?  Tomorrow will be better, but - for today - good enough is good enough.  Running late on tonight's blog post because your-husband's-got-it-comin'-out-of-both-ends-&-can't-keep-his-gatorade-down-unless-you-sit-with-him-with-a-timer-to-make-him-take-a-sip-exactly-every-30-seconds?  Yeah, good enough is gonna be good enough tonight!  The list could go on.

As a final note: "Good enough is good enough" is not about settling. It's about accepting the best we can do with what we're working with, and being proud of that, instead of feeling ashamed for our "imperfections."  

Who's with me?!  What will you be "good enough" at this week?

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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Day 224: Fun Fact Friday - Lacan's "Mirror Stage"

This cat looks exactly my Diesel, except smarter.
I have an admission: I'm really skeptical of psychoanalytic theory.  As much as I love Freud's insistence that many of our behaviors can be only explained by subconscious desires, I'm pretty sure that his "penis envy" theory is a load of crap that could only have been imagined (or - ahem - subconsciously inspired!) by a privileged-and-pervy white guy.  I avoid psychoanalytic theory whenever possible, which is sometimes difficult in academic circles.  And yet, I couldn't write a year-long blog about mirrors without addressing Lacan's "Mirror Stage" at least once!  Here goes:

Jacques Marie Émile Lacan, a controversially regarded French psychoanalyst and psychiatrist, introduced his concept of the "Mirror Stage" at the 1936 International Psychoanalytical Association conference.  Lacan's "Mirror Stage" refers to the developmental stage at which an infant is able to recognize himself/herself in a mirror.  (Recall, back on Day 168 we learned that both 2-year-old humans, Chimpanzees, and Orangutans should pass a "mirror-guided self-recognition test")  Lacan saw the "Mirror Stage" as integral to a child's development of "symbolic activity".  As explained by Sabine Melchior-Bonnet in her book The Mirror: A History,
"The child takes pleasure in the spectacle of himself and, at the same time he understands the difference between the image and its model; standing before the mirror he acquires a new capacity for mental projection." (emphasis added by me)  
Okay, well - other than the obnoxious use of male pronouns to represent both genders - I think that this is a pretty cool (and non-pervy) concept!

I can't help but wonder... do mirrors directly facilitate the development of these capacities, or do they simply allow psychoanalysts to observe them ?  In other words, did people pass through the "Mirror Stage" before mirrors existed?

Do any of you parents out there remember what it was like to watch your child recognize herself in the mirror for the first time?  (Ahem, Mom?) How about pets not recognizing themselves in the mirror? Cute stories and photos requested!

Check out what my mom just emailed me:
It's baby Kjerstin (ME!) looking in the mirror!  
I'm not sure if I recognize myself, but I sure seem to like what I'm seeing!
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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Day 222: Wedding Photo Smorgasbord!!

I received a package in the mail yesterday.  I knew what it was and that I shouldn't open it.  But I couldn't help myself.  The package contained the electronic files of my wedding photos (YES! YES! YES!!) ... which I've been planning to not look at until the end of my no-mirrors project (NO! NO! NO!).

Back when I was establishing "the rules," YOU FOLKS decided by vote that I could look at my wedding photos (if I wanted to).  Then my sister promised to throw me a huge party at the end of the project if I could resist looking at my wedding photos until the very end.  

I love my sister.  She's SO COOL!  Plus, Hanna and her boyfriend, Nick, throw the BEST parties.  So when she challenged me to this, I just knew that I should try my hardest.  I felt even more certain once I started experiencing blissful glimmers of positive body image and renewed focus on my values.  Why miss out on a fab party and risk back-tracking over a bunch of stupid pictures, right?  Yeah.  That's what I thought too, until the stupid pictures arrived.

I was very good for 2 hours.  Michael is out of town this week for work, so I couldn't ask him to hide the box from me.  I tried to hide it from myself by shoving it in a random drawer in my bathroom dresser.  Somehow - I don't know how - I managed to find it a few hours later.  Then I opened the box, and caught a first glimpse of a forbidden photo when I saw the customized cover of our Wedding DVD Slideshow.  Lookin' good! I thought, but then, Hanna is going to be so pissed!  I stopped myself from snooping any further, but it was really hard.
Then today I met up with Hanna for lunch.  Over a healthy feast of vegetarian bolani's, I casually mentioned that the wedding photos had arrived, prepared to guiltily confess my peek at the DVD cover.  Here's how it went down:

KJ: So.... the wedding photos arrived yesterday... (guilty)
Hanna: Oh yeah? Nice! How do they look?!? (excited)
KJ: Ummm... I'm not supposed to be looking at them, remember? (confused)
Hanna: Oh, right.  I forgot about that.  Whatever. (nonchalant)

Whatever? Right!  Whatever!  Suddenly "whatever" became the appropriate attitude, and it was all the encouragement/forgiveness/permission I needed.  Party be damned!  I'll throw my own party!  

Sadly, Diesel slept through the party.  
And that's just what I did. I went home and threw myself a little Wedding-Photo-Viewing-Party.  Just me, a mug of tea, a cat, and over 1,000 beautiful images (courtesy of The Goodness Photo and Design - thanks Lisa and Geoff!!).  It was the best party I've been to since... well... my wedding!  I saw - no, looked at - photos of myself for the first time in months, and it couldn't have been more cool.  I was surrounded by wonderful memories, and - now that I think of it - what better way to get a body-image boost than to see photos of yourself on a day when you felt particularly gorgeous and loved? 

Here, in order of events, are my favorites! 

Our venue!
My bridesmaids immediately got to work covering the mirrors in our dressing room.
Paper Towels + Tape = Success!
Michael's sister, Mandy, adds the finishing touches to my makeup.  Ooh la la!
Yes, two dresses.  (Duh!)  
And two pairs of shoes.  (Double-duh!)
Hanna helps me into my dress.  What a cool sister moment. 
With heels like these, better safe than sorry.  Thanks Liz and Hanna!
Meanwhile, Michael gets ready in the dude-room.
Michael and the groomsmen all wore custom kicks!
My brother, Peter, fixes Michael's boutonniere.  Now they both have a brother!

I dash off (with a little help) to meet Michael for our "first look".  
I'm sure the suspense was killing him!
Here I am!  I love you. :)
Ceremony time!  The barrels marked the spot.
Our programs, Nick's hands.  Hanna - your boyfriend rocked the usher thing. 
15 minute delay while multiple guests help my dad tie his bow-tie.   Oops!

Finally - time to get the show on the road!
My dad and I share a moment on our way down the aisle.  (note: abandoned bow-tie)
Michael cried. I told him he'd better!
Kisses from mom, high-five from dad!
What a beautiful day!  Our pastor, Tania Haber, was my mom's best friend in childhood.
Isn't my mom beautiful?  I love her smile.
I think I look really pretty!  And HAPPY!
My dress was great.  I felt comfortable and confident, no Spanx necessary!
My bouquet was exactly what I wanted.  So beautiful.
I'm pretty sure this one will end up on my grandparents' fridges.
Ummm.... can you say hottie?  I'm married to this guy!!
Our wedding party. I can't express how important these friends have been in our lives.

We sprinted into the reception to "Eye of the Tiger".  Yes, I wore my heels!
We did a chest-bump, and then ran around getting high-fives from our guests.

Lots of wonderful toasts....
... and one particularly memorable "toast"
(from my "secular fairy godparents" and my "secular-fairy-godsister," Sarah)
Outfit change!  Thanks for all the wardrobe assistance, Laila!
A few moments before our 1st dance.  Awkward shot, I know... but I look so fabulous!  
First dance, to Clem Snide's "I'll Be Your Mirror" (sorry for the overkill!)
My dad and I got teary-eyed dancing to "On My Wedding Day" by Don Henley.  
Apparently my mom cried like a baby the whole time... 
Michael and his mom totally rocked out to Rod Stewart's "Forever Young"
Cake!  Politely served... Soon demolished!
A final dramatic shot to end the night.  MARRIED! FUN! FABULOUS!
Well, those are my wedding photos.  I do feel a little bad that I didn't wait for Michael to get back from his business trip, but hopefully he'll read this blog post from Mexico and enjoy them as much as I have!  

I'll know more in the coming weeks, but I'm optimistic that viewing these photos won't be too much of a set-back on my journey toward greater self-acceptance.  If anything, it's relieved a bit of paranoia about what I looked like that day.  That said... I'm feeling quite vain at the moment!  Hopefully I'll be able to pull myself away from the computer in time for bed.

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