A few women have been making headlines for their mirror fast: their decision to go for an extended period of time without looking in the mirror.
KjerstinGruys gave up mirrors for a full year (which included her wedding day) and is currently writing a book about the experience. Meanwhile, Autumn Whitfield-Madrano explained the reasons for her month–long abstinence from mirrors on her blog The Beheld:
“I specifically want it to be about the dozens—perhaps hundreds—of times each day that I look in the mirror for no practical reason… Women are constantly being looked at. Even when we’re not, we’re so hyperaware of the possibility of being looked at that it can rule even our most private lives. Including in front of our mirrors, alone…I know perfectly well what I look like; still, I use the mirror as a divination tool to repeatedly confirm both how I look and how I should feel about it.”
“I didn’t objectify myself [before the fast]; rather, I treated my mirror image as a grounding strategy, as a divination tool to tell me how I should respond in any given situation, as a part of myself I can control. I treat her as both slave and master, and as someone both more beautiful and less appealing than myself…[After the fast] In addition to realizing that I don’t have to strive to look pretty every minute, I thought far less about looks this month than I normally do. I didn’t feel better or worse about my appearance; I rarely felt pretty or unpretty. I just didn’t care as much.”
Having read about both women’s experiences, I’m not sure I would do a mirror fast any time soon. The logistics of it seem complicated; avoiding my own reflection at all costs and not doing my hair or makeup seems as annoying as checking my hair whenever I get the chance. That said, I feel like they are really onto something here. I’m definitely guilty of looking at my reflection way more than is necessary; I don’t seek out mirrors but I find it harder to concentrate if I’m able to see myself in some way. I’ve noticed how different my experience is in yoga studios that have mirrors (hint: it’s a hell of a lot harder to be present when you’re seeing yourself trying to be present, and you’re wondering if your hair looks good while you do it).
I look at myself for the same reasons Whitfield-Madrano outlined: because I want to confirm how I look. I want to compare that to how I think I look. Some days it makes me feel good, others it makes me feel bad, but in either case, it’s all useless. If shutting out our reflections is what it takes for us to consider how we feel and who we are and separate that from our looks, it sounds like a good thing to me. For now, I’m going to make an effort to avoid my reflection more and objectify myself less and see where it leads me.
Would you ever do a mirror fast?