New Survey Says Women Spend 5 Days a Year Self Obsessing

Why we spend so much time criticizing ourselves and how to bust this troubling trend

New research reveals that the average woman spends such an inordinate amount of time checking herself out in the mirror that she loses five entire days a year to the habit. UK television channel QVC Beauty, which interviewed 1,000 women for the survey, also found that nearly 40 percent of women said they wouldn’t leave the house without makeup, and 19 percent would rather spend less on food than slash their beauty budget.

These results would be laughable if they weren’t so sad. Our penchant for obsessing over our appearance in the mirror has a name: Body checking. It’s essentially the over-evaluation of one's shape and weight via any number of methods. Do any of these  ring a bell for you?

-Looking at yourself in the mirror (to obsess over a body part -- not simple grooming)

-Hopping on the scale numerous times a day to track your weight

-Trying on a piece of clothing to see if you "still fit" into it

-Pinching fat anywhere on your body

-Trying to fit your hands around your waist

-Comparing your figure to other women's, be they celebrities or co-workers

Sound familiar?

Look, I'm not suggesting you avoid mirrors with vampire-like tenacity or leave your house without checking for spinach in your teeth. But five full days of self-obsessing is five days too much.

Here’s a common trick recommended by therapists that I’ve tried, with success: Every time you get the urge to check yourself out in a window or the office mirror, say "Stop!" (mentally or out loud even) and move on. Notice how freeing it feels.

I used to spend endless hours of my week craning my neck over my shoulder to catch my rear view in the mirror. It always looked the same -- gross. But I wasn't thinking clearly at the time (eating disorders will do that to a girl), and I always wound up feeling badly. So one day, I stopped. When I got the urge, I told myself, "Do. Not. Turn. Around. You. Are. Being. Crazy." And after a while, it actually started to work! Over time, not looking in the mirror became an ingrained habit and I found myself feeling happier.

Now go get your five days back!

What would you do with five extra days? Chime in below!


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