Through the looking glass

I’ve always thought people seemed pretty obsessed with mirrors.  There’s a mirror in every bathroom in a house, at least one full-length mirror in the bedroom, multiple mirrors in public restrooms…we even use mirrors as decoration in public buildings (the number of times I’ve looked at the wall next to me only to be confronted with my reflection…*shudder*.)  I’ve never understood why mirrors are so prevalent. More than that, I’ve never understood why people seem compelled to look at themselves. How many times have I gone into a public restroom to solely to pee only to find a woman blocking the sinks to preen in the mirror. I always want to yell “You look fine, just like you looked when you left the house half an hour ago. What could possibly have changed in that amount of time?” (Un)Fortunately, I’m too polite (and too afraid of confrontation) to say anything, so I usually just stand there awkwardly until Miss Looking-at-myself-is-the-most-important-thing-in-the-world notices and moves out of the way.

Seriously, though, why do people need to consult Lord Mirror? In high school, I got really good at doing my hair in the morning before school without once needing to check my reflection. I’ve never in my life felt the need to buy a full-length mirror; I only have one now because my house came with it. I know I sound critical, but I’m honestly just trying to understand. What do people see when they look in the mirror? Are their eyes not immediately drawn to the flaws? The weirdly shaped nose, the forest of acne, the double chin…can other people just ignore the imperfections? Or are they obsessed with their reflection because of the defects? Do they feel like checking the mirror consistently will somehow help them deal with those issues? Like how I weigh myself several times a day because I’d rather know how ridiculously fat I am than live an uninformed life?

Last night, I brushed my teeth, like always, and reached for my retainers (yep, in addition to my many and sundry other problems, I’m that adult who just had braces a couple years ago.) Usually, I keep my eyes trained on the sink any time there’s a mirror in front of me. It’s safer that way. But this time, I caught a glimpse of myself and…it was okay. I wouldn’t get out of hand and say I was attractive, but there was a brief moment where I didn’t see the blemishes or the faults, I just saw a woman. A decent-looking woman. I cocked my head to the side, confused about what was happening and curious to see where this would go. So I smiled. And the woman in the mirror looked happy and normal and…like a worthwhile human being. And then, she was gone. And in her place was me, with the acne and the fat.

I still don’t understand why anyone would spend an extended amount of time looking in the mirror. But you know what? I really, really wish I did.

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