Sometimes a funny thing happens when you don't look in the mirror every day: Life becomes a little kinder to you. Even a year ago at 24, my relationship with the mirror was very muddled. Sometimes it'd be nice to me, showing me a pretty girl with brown eyes that looked like she was ready to own the day. Other times I'd see that same girl, but slightly warped. Thighs would balloon like a trick of the eye and my hips would take a dramatic dip and curve. My perception was broken — something I knew, but that still didn't stop me from picking those soft curves apart. That's why I decided to give myself a break and avoid the usual "wish I could change this" dance that sometimes comes with glancing in the mirror every morning.
My story begins on a Tuesday morning when my alarm made the executive decision not to go off. I started running around my bedroom while brushing my teeth and simultaneously spraying enough amounts of dry shampoo to look like I was part of Marie Antoinette's high court. As I buttoned my skinny jeans and bent over to grab one of my missing socks from underneath the bed, I made the mistake of glancing up towards the mirror mid-scoop and seeing my reflection.
I was staring back at the girl squatting by a mess of pillows, her hair slightly wild, her jeans digging into hips, her tummy hunched into rolls. Immediately, I groaned, quipping about walruses or whales and vowing to eat nothing but gross celery as long as I lived. Almost as immediately as the thought came, however, it was gone, and I went back to jamming the socks onto my feet and flying out the door.
While the mean thoughts lasted only about two seconds — three, max — they were still just that: Mean. Sure, I wasn't actively thinking of my jelly rolls being a "negative" while on the train, but why did I have to think of them at all? I may not be whippet skinny, but when did I decide that that was my personal idea of beautiful? And isn't that the only thing that matters: What I have decided is beautiful?
This is ultimately why not looking in the mirror is so important: You need time to figure out how you feel about yourself and what makes you happy without the voices that usually get triggered every time you glance at your reflection.
That's what happened when I took a break from my reflection. I had one mirror in my room, and instead of doing the usual pivot-turn-frown routine when I put on clothes, I instead went straight out the door. Which made me feel... relieved. And you have the ability to feel that way, too, if only you stopped starting your day with your reflection. Here are just seven reasons you shouldn't look in a mirror every day.
1. You Can Act How You Feel, Not How You Look
When you look down at yourself from where you're standing rather than glancing in the bathroom mirror, everything usually looks pretty great. The dress matches the boots, your hair is doing its usual thing, and your face feels the same as it did when you washed it that morning.
By not taking the time to step back and critique every little thing you wished was different, you get to feel the way you do when it's just you and your pajama pants: Normal. I can't recall a time when I'd feel down on myself when it was just me dancing in my underwear in my kitchen. During those moments, I always feel happy and relaxed and like my real self, and I'd wager you do, too. By not looking in the mirror, you can feel more like that version of yourself — the version who's sat criss-cross applesauce on the couch in nothing but a bra and boxers, muffin top out, hair messy, totally content.
2. You Won't Stress The Small Stuff
Think back to a time when you were really, really self conscious about something. For me, it was last week when I was wearing thin cotton pants and, by glancing in the mirror as I ran out the door, saw my pantyline was all up in my business. I stood awkwardly on the train later on, trying to shift in ways that would keep my butt to the doors and away from the 30 pairs of judging eyes around me.
Now, imagine how I would have felt if I never noticed the pantyline to begin with (or better yet, was at the point where I didn't give a damn). My whole day could have been different. I wouldn't have been a ball of nerves breaking out in stress sweats. The thing was, who actually cared if they could see the outline of my undies? Honestly, no one went home mortally offended over knowing I was wearing bikini bottoms rather than boyshorts.
By not staring at yourself in the mirror, you train yourself not to stress the small stuff. If you come home and notice you committed a faux pas, oh well, it's over and done with now.
3. The More You Look In A Mirror, The Less You Look Around You
When you're constantly checking your reflection, all your energy ends up being focused on keeping up a certain image. You're worrying about whether your lipstick wore off, or if your bangs are still doing that weird flippy thing. But while you're trying to figure out where the next nearest reflective surface is to check, you're missing everything that's happening around you.
You're not looking up at the buildings and noticing their lines, you're not peeking at strangers and wondering what their story is, and you totally just missed that amazing grandmother with the red lips and Saks Fifth two-piece. Just let go, and join in.
4. You Forget To Be Self-Conscious
So what if your thighs look big in those pants? They're not going anywhere, and who exactly decided big was bad? Who cares if your curls deflated, or if your dress is a little see-through when the sun hits it just right? In situations like those, you have two options: Spend your time freaking out over everything and becoming uncomfortably awkward, or letting it go and chalking it up to an off day. Some days you're going to look like Satorialist material, and other days you're not. If you're not constantly glancing in the mirror and being reminded this is the day you aren't, you simply won't remember to beat yourself up about it.
5. You'll Be Kinder Towards Others Because You'll Be Kinder Towards Yourself
"Ew, why would anyone ever wear that?" "What in the hell did she do to her hair?" "She shouldn't be wearing that kind of dress." These are all thoughts that I've had at one point or other when checking out someone taking up sidewalk space in my vicinity. Like a lot of people, I sometimes feel a certain amount of smugness when it comes to blowing the fashion police whistle. A lot of that, however, has to do with feeling superior to the person in question.
When you don't stare at yourself in the mirror and, as a result, become kinder to yourself, you become kinder to others. You come to the realization it doesn't really matter if your hair is in shambles come 5 p.m. or if the dress you wore today is, indeed, a little shorter than you expected. If you don't focus on those little details for yourself, you'll likely start to notice them less in other people.
6. You'll Enjoy All The Things
One time I was on a date with a perfectly handsome man, in a perfectly dim wine bar, making perfectly charming conversation, and all I wanted to do was get the hell out of there and back into the safety of my sweatpants. Why? It was one of those nights where I posed in a million outfits in front of my mirror, but nothing was fitting right. All my dresses were wrong, all my sweaters made me look frumpy, all my jeans felt a size too small. So instead of noticing that the boy with gray eyes currently across from me had total crush-developing potential, I tried my best to be a wet blanket the whole evening through.
How lame is that? If I didn't spend so much time picking myself apart in the mirror, I wouldn't have been in that position. I'd just throw on a dress and leave, knowing I was about to seriously charm someone's socks off.
7. You Realize You Have More To Contribute Than Your Looks
You have a clever mind, a warm personality, a killer sense of humor, and an interesting way of viewing things. That's what you have to contribute as a person, not the size pants you wear around your waist. When you realize that and stop putting so much stock in the reflection you see in your mirror, you let the other sides of you shine brighter because you know they're your truer assets. You realize that those things are the parts you should be trying to polish, not your reflection. And the more yourself you are, the more people are pulled towards wonderful you, too.
Images: Marlen Komar