What do you see when you look in the mirror? What should you see?
I think that when I was child I saw my true reflection. I didn’t have the usual adolescent body image issues…. at least not when I was an adolescent. I looked in the mirror and saw what I really was. If anything, I was a bit blind to my image; I didn’t check for fashion in the way that my peers did, so my “awkward” teen stage lasted longer than it had to.
Of course, over the years that changed. I started to notice my weight, for good and bad. I found gray hairs a few days before my 29th birthday. I paid attention to the way my clothes did or didn’t accentuate my good features and hide my less good ones. This was all pretty normal. I never obsessed over my image (well, maybe a bit before a big date) and I didn’t worry about a slightly thicker waist, a little extra flab, or a bad haircut. In fact, I think I’ve had a pretty healthy body image.
The interesting thing is that I haven’t been looking at the standard parts of my body in the mirror lately. These days, when I look in the mirror I notice new pimples (a sign that some meds need to be adjusted), the worsening curve of my spine (yes, it’s visible from a quick look in the mirror), and dark bags under my eyes (I haven’t slept properly in many months.) I pay attention to these things, but why? I’m realizing a few things:
- No one else notices them. They are glaringly apparent to me, but the rest of the world just sees short stature, short hair, big boobs.
- There is nothing I can do. Sure, I see the curve in my back getting worse. It means I need to lose weight and do more physical therapy. But I already knew that. Looking in the mirror doesn’t help. The bags under my eyes could be hidden with makeup, but otherwise, I can’t do anything but get more sleep, and it’s not like I haven’t already tried that. Seeing it doesn’t change it.
- If I focus on the good parts of my body, the parts that look nice and don’t hurt, it could be a good distraction from the rest.