Sunday, April 1, 2012

Day 8: Classes Start and I'm Giving a Talk at Trinity College this Wednesday!

It's hard to believe that an entire week has passed since mirrors came back into my life.  I'm still adjusting, but (luckily!) it hasn't been traumatic.  I'm applying my makeup in front of the mirror again, but I am challenging myself to finish in under 5 minutes to make sure I don't "gaze" or obsess.  So far I'm averaging closer to 7 minutes, but I'm not beating myself up about it.  I also glance at myself in a full-length mirror on the way out of the door, but that's about it.  I'm not actively avoiding mirrors anymore, but it's also become a habit and habits are hard to break (especially if you're not sure you want to break them!).  Just  a few minutes ago I washed my hands in Michael's bathroom after scooping the cat litter (oh, isn't life glamourous!) and I semiconsciously decided to not look in the mirror.  Why?  It just seemed like a potential time-suck and I have a lot of things on my to-do list!  Speaking of which.....

Spring Quarter classes at UCLA start today!  Every Monday for the next 10 weeks I'll be commuting down to Los Angeles and back to teach my favorite freshman seminar "Gender, Appearance, and Inequality: From Contemporary Feminism to Evolutionary Psychology."  This is the third year I've taught the class, and I'm psyched to dive back in.  Students, if you're reading this, here's the scoop: I'm tough, but fair, and the class is super fun and (I hope) potentially life-changing!  

In other exciting news, I'm giving a talk about my no-mirrors project at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut this Wednesday evening.  How sweet is this flyer they made for the event?! Trinity has decided to kick off the week with a "No-Mirrors Monday" - how cool!?! - and I can't wait to meet the students who organized the event.   If any of you are live near Hartford I'd love to see you at the talk, which is open to the public.  Here are the dirty details: Wednesday, April 4th, 7PM, Washington Room in Mather Hall.  

Since I'm diving head-first back into the fantastic world of mentoring college students, I have a very important question to ask:
What one or two things do you wish you had learned in college about "beauty"?


  1. How do I take your class long-distance? I want to audit from Denver! :)

  2. I wish I had figured out that comparing my appearance to that of models in magazines and on TV was a bad idea because it set me up to never feel pretty enough or thin enough.

  3. Can I audit from NYC?

  4. In answer to your question about what I wish I had learned in time for college:
    Well, do you remember the show Golden Girls? Bea Arthur's character was talking about having spent the day with a group of teenaged girls. She described them as being at the age where you don't even have to be beautiful to be beautiful." That line really struck me, and more so as years pass I get it more. I spent my college years battling eating disorders, thinking I was too fat to wear a swimsuit in public and all sorts of similar nonsense. My senior year I studied abroad in Europe. I was too busy having fun and backpacking by train - I forgot to care. I gained weight. (Up to a whole 130 lbs, which in retrospect meant I was finally healthy) I sunbathed topless on the mediterranean. I was relentlessly gawked at by swarthy Mediterranean men. I even met my future spouse, who is the type to appreciate ample curves. I finally realized Bea Arthur had been referring to me as much as anyone else. And I realized the rest was all nonsense. I just wish I had spent less time worrying about it.
    Bea Arthur then went to to say that after hanging out with the teens all day, she felt young and beautiful too. Then she walked by a mirror and nearly had a heart attack when she saw that her imagined self and her visual self didn't match. I felt really sad about that comment. And I have often thought of it throughout reading your blog this year. If only she had never seen a mirror again, she would have basically felt young again. Like the secret to eternal youth.
    Of course if I had learned any of this in college, I wouldn't have appreciated it as much. ;-)

  5. I wish I could take your course! Have you ever considered teaching it on line?

  6. "Bea Arthur's character was talking about having spent the day with a group of teenaged girls. She described them as 'being at the age where you don't even have to be beautiful to be beautiful.'"

    And "Youth is wasted on the young." (Who said that?)

    We take our "beauty" for granted when we are young, though some never appreciate that they have beauty at that age.

    But unless we die young, every one of us will become old. And look old. And inside every old person, is the young person they used to be.

    The morbid inscription in ossuary crypts applies to aging as well as to death: "What you are, I once was. What I am, you will be."

  7. Thank YOU for an amazing evening at Trinity. I teared up and smiled.
    As a former two dress bride (I dress shopped 12 weeks post baby and was nursing) a student, a women, and a fellow suffer of all things body image your candidness was inspiring.

  8. Your blog has been amazingly smart, thoughtful and well-researched. What's the plan now that the mirrors project is over? Will you still be blogging? Please say yes!

  9. I've just found your blog and will be reading through it. I have avoided mirrors for 3 years now, but it is out of the gut-wrenching hatred of my reflection. I googled this phenomenon today after accidentally seeing myself and reacting as though I had just found out that somebody had died. What I see devastates me.

    I'm happy to see somebody who experimented with this willingly. I have to go through the humiliating process of telling people who cut my hair, pluck my eyebrows, etc. that I don't look in the mirror (as they're shoving a magnifying mirror in my face). The experience leaves me feeling subhuman and they treat me with such scorn. I want to read about your perspective doing this with different motives.

  10. Love your blog, and have been following it since day 1 !
    Just passing by to send you this video that you might like : It's about a girl litteraly fighting her reflection.
    Hope you keep the blog going !

  11. Now don't go on and get disappointed or sad on my behalf... I've been delayed, not dumped! Further, I'm frankly a little relieved because I'm only just getting used to seeing myself in mirrors - the idea of watching myself on TV felt like too much, too soon. Sometimes things fall into place exactly the way they're supposed to.

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