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Six months before her wedding, PhD student Kjerstin Gruys decided to go A Year Without Mirrors. Earlier this year, New York writer Autumn Whitefield-Madrano (who blogs about beauty and what it means at The Beheld) went 30 days without looking in a mirror. Their accounts of how to navigate daily life sans reflections are fascinating. (You can read both stories here and here.) Inspired by their tales, I decided to try it myself. So for 72 hours I went without mirrors this past weekend. Here's what I learned:
Mirrors are everywhere. In my house, we have them in the bathrooms, bedrooms, and dining room. The car is one big reflective surface. Plus, we're renovating my bathroom, which meant spending Friday trolling bathroom showrooms for ideas. Bathroom showrooms = swimming in mirrors. I did my best to avoid eye contact with myself but my reflection kept catching me by surprise. And as Autumn found, the reflection you catch in an unanticipated glimpse of yourself looks nothing like the one you see when you purposefully go to look at yourself in the mirror. This can be... startling.
When in doubt, wear your hair up. I have long, wavy, mind-of-its-own hair. Without a mirror, I couldn't check on what it was doing, which meant I spent the weekend wearing it in a low bun. Pretty and practical, sure, but I hated that I might have actually been having a totally great hair day and by wearing it up, was missing out on potential hair-down awesomeness.
Objects may be larger than they appear -- or not. On Saturday, I woke up feeling a brand new pimple on the side of my nose. But I couldn't rush to the mirror to check it out. Instead, I spent the remaining 48 hours imagining said pimple to be an erupting volcano, terrifying to small children. On Monday morning I raced to the mirror and saw... a tiny red dot. Oh. right. That's what pimples look like. They are not, in fact, the end of the world.
You will spend less time thinking about how you look. Once the pimple paranoia and the hair frustration subsided, I was pretty happy to do a whole range of things -- drinks with friends, shopping with my mom, lazing around with my husband -- without giving my appearance a second thought. I saw no need to wear makeup. I stuck to favorite, worn-in, simple outfits I've been living in all summer. I felt at ease with my body, becuase I got to stop thinking about my body. This was suspiciously freeing, as in, why on earth don't I feel like this all the time?
You will miss yourself. As comfortable as it felt to detach from all things appearance and go about my business, I was excited to get my mirrors back on Monday. And yes, there were pimples to meet and stomach poochiness to get reacquainted with -- but mostly, there were all the things I like about my appearance, but hadn't been able to enjoy for three days. And it was good to be back.