Mirrors. Gotta hate 'em. Well I do any way. I've been averse to looking in mirrors in public for as long as I can remember. In private I will stare for adequate lengths of time that allow me to pick apart my many perceived imperfections or if I am looking from the shoulders up (I LOVE my bathroom mirror) I can look for longer periods and sometimes think I look okay. But in public? Ouch. Nothing is worse than that unexpected glimpse of oneself (with other people around) to take the wind out of any self-confidence your sails may have been billowing you around town with. Geez. Someone cover those things!
But the other day I was in a shoe store with a friend because people let's face it, two women passing a shoe store equals a genetic imperative to stop in and take a quick look.
One of the wonderful things about shoe stores is that their mirrors are low to the ground and show me just what I can handle - my feet. Feet shod in wacky inexpensive shoes that I can buy, feel frivolous and yet not break the bank... not even the piggy bank.
As we wandered around the store my friend suddenly stood stock still in front of the end part of an aisle. I couldn't imagine what was wrong - she gasped and exclaimed, "I look like a size TWO in this mirror!!! Look at this!!!" Seems this particular shoe store *cough* Payless * cough* had installed full-length mirrors at the ends of all their aisles. Why a shoe store would do this is beyond me - but wait! She was absolutely shocked and delighted. Now she has recently lost a little bit of weight - not that she needed to do so. (GGG-rrrrr-crunch. that's the sound of fat-girl jealously rearing its ugly head and reaching for another potato chip.) So I naturally assumed she was actually 'seeing' that weight loss for the first time and appreciating it. Sometimes you don't see it until it hits you accidentally, same with weight gain. So it seemed clear to me that was the case. But she was insistent that I look at myself in the mirror.
"It's not 'me'," she said, "it's the mirror - look!"
So I peeked at her reflection and sure enough it was like a fun-house mirror, she was quite a bit smaller in the mirror - like "eat a sandwich already, Mary-Kate" smaller. It was kind of, dare I say it, cool.
So despite my mirror fears when she stepped away and insisted again that I look at myself (in public people!) I stood in front of that fabulous fun house mirror and saw myself.... 15 years ago. Holy HELL people it was amazing! This nutty mirror actually made me look thinner and not in a 'well now I look 17 feet tall so I could gain a few' way but like some sort of computer-generated 'this is how you look 20 lbs thinner' way. IT was awe-inspiring. (I know, I'm easy).
The people in the store were at first a little taken aback by the two women in the back of the store screeching with delight, but then they actually came to see what the fuss was about and they seemed to get a kick out of it. They were quite familiar with the effects of the mirror but I don't think they'd seen anyone get such a charge out of it as we did.
I don't believe seeing myself in a public mirror and being happy, even giddy, about it is something that will happen with any great regularity but having that experience was a good exercise in visualization. I know that what I see in a mirror is not always what is really there, just like this distorted mirror, and maybe what I really need to focus on is not what I see in a mirror but what I project without self-consciousness - even if I do catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror that doesn't make me as happy as the shoe store mirror.
Or maybe I need to go back to that store and buy one of those mirrors. Mine, Mine, Mine!!!