Side Notes: Mirrors

Side Notes: Mirrors

This is the third post I have done on this subject. The other two can be found here, and here.

In the first one I talk about my obsession to look thin. In the second I talk about how what I look like in the mirror doesnt define who I am. This time, I’m going to talk about what it’s like to live without a mirror. Well, almost.


At my current home, I have one mirror: it is horizontal and at eye level. Kind of strange when you think about it, as most homes have a mirror in the bathroom that you can at least view the top half of your body. Not mine, this cabin was built in the early 1900’s! We have a mirror that they put in just recently and only fit horizontal.

At first I thought nothing of it. I wouldn’t really be able to look at myself in an entire outfit, but that’s alright. As long as I could see my hair and make sure there was nothing in my teeth, I was good to go.

Then there were those few bad days. The ones where I wanted to look on the mirror and wanted to judge and criticize every square inch of my body. I wanted to berate myself and just give myself my own swift kick in the ass for some outrageous amount of sweets I had just or recently eaten. But no, that action can’t happen.

At first I was flabbergasted: how am I going to be able to see how I look? How am I going to know if I look good in my bikini? How am I going to know if I look skinny enough (gah, I can’t believe I just said that! I HATE THAT PHRASE!!!!!!)? It was an adjustment for sure, but it made me move away from those old sentiments.

Now, without that mirror to snark on myself, I could focus on how I felt, or how I thought I looked. I have always believed that if you thought you believed you looked one way, then your demeanor would reveal that; ie you think you look good, nothing can stop you from feeling good when you go out.

It has helped me adjust to using my strength and clothes as a guide to how I feel. No more are my legs looking thin enough, but these pants are fitting rather well! I have been able to bring the focus away from the body dysmorphia that ruled for oh so many years. And believe me, it plain sucks!

Let me just say that it is such a relief. I now not only don’t have a scale number to bring me down if I let myself step on it, but neither can a mirror. It has nothing on who I really, truly am! Now it’s more of a, for example, how great a run was. Last night for example. I was a tad, jiggly if I can use that correctly, and not feeling 100%. I went for a run, planning on it just being kind of non chalant and a calorie burner to be honest (not something I’m proud of), but it ended up being awesome! I ran some amazing splits (8:40/8:13/8:21/7:55/7:40/7:35) and by the time I got home I wasn’t focused on how many calories I had run, but that I was so speedy and felt awesome! No longer did I want to look into the mirror and see how I looked! It was all about how strong I felt!


It has been another learning experience out here in the wilderness…as it always seems to be. Like how to avoid chiggers? Haha…I kid, kind of.

How long have any of you stepped away from the mirror? I dare you to try it for a week, and see how your focus changes. I would say I’d join you on the challenge, but I already am!

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8 Responses to Side Notes: Mirrors

  1. Iris says:

    What a wonderful post, Melissa! I always look forward to hearing your insights, and I really appreciated this post. I’m moving into a new apartment soon, and I’m trying to decide if I want to buy a full-length mirror (my house right now has an entire wall of mirrors in the bathroom! I try not to spend too much time in there…). After all, don’t I want to know that I look good (or sadly, won’t I want to know if I look bad)? But you are so right in pointing out that if we feel good about ourselves from the inside, that is so clearly reflected on our outside. Detaching my self-worth from my physical reflection could do me a whole lot of good, so maybe I’ll save my money and skip out on the mirror!

    Thanks for sharing, and have a great evening!! :)

    Iris @ Anatomy & Intuition

  2. Doris says:

    Yay, Melissa! I’m so proud of you! I haven’t had a full-body mirror for the last two years since I’ve moved to New York. My old apartment and my new apartment literally only had a TEENY, TINY (and I mean, like.. 8.5 x 11in) mirror in the bathroom and I was always too cheap and lazy to order a full-length mirror.. or even a mirror that was bigger than a sheet of paper haha! And I’ve told Eric that it has helped me IMMENSELY in terms of not abusing my reflection to critically stare at parts of my body! But at the same time, it sort of has backfired in a way that’s almost opposite of body dismorphia.. it’d be months on end before I’d randomly see my body in a mirror (maybe like a changing room at a clothing store), and I would actually realize that I was thinner that I had slowly, slowly imagined myself to look without a mirror! So I definitely would argue that living life WITHOUT a mirror gives better results than living a life surrounded by mirrors (in the context of weight insecurities), but it was also interesting to realize that, without a mirror, I was imagining myself bigger than I really was, and a mirror in doses actually brings me back to reality!

  3. runliftlife says:

    Very cool post, Melissa. I am still trying to get away from letting the mirror be my guide. Thanks for the inspiration.

  4. G says:

    You make me so happy. I have fallen into a difficult spot and have been very judgy with myself lately and this post just reminds me of to focus on how my body DOES not how it looks…
    Thanks- I can always relate to your posts. Also I love love love Santa Cruz:- try: Planet Fresh, Saturn Cafe, and take Whit up the ONE to Secret Beach and stop in for fried arties at Whale City Bakery Bar and Grill. YUM. Also hit Gayles Bakery for treats…so good. At Brazil, I love the acai bowl with yogurt. So many restaurants in SC have veggie options

  5. Jen Pringle says:

    Great inspiration Melissa, really hit home for me. I’m definitely up for stepping away from the mirror for a while :)

  6. Maggie says:

    I have a full-length mirror on the inside of my closet door, but due to the arrangement of my bedroom, the door never opens fully. Which means that it takes some effort if I want to see all of myself at one time. I do use the mirror in the bathroom, although mostly for putting in my contacts (it’s more difficult for me to put in gas permeable contacts without a mirror than with my old soft lenses). Some days I don’t even look at myself, not even to check my hair or teeth, before I head off to work.

    I’ll join you in a mirror-free week if I can have my one caveat of mirror to prevent contacts getting stuck to the whites of my eyeballs! :P During my sea semester, I don’t think I looked in a mirror for about 6 weeks…it was pretty excellent. I also didn’t really worry about what I looked like as we were all in various stages of grungy nearly all the time.

  7. biz319 says:

    You are beautiful Melissa – inside and out!! So happy that you are not a slave to the scale, the mirror or how many calories you burn doing something. You’ve come a long way baby!!

  8. itzyskitchen says:

    You’re totally brave for writing all of these posts! I love the concept of living without a large meal- fabulous. You rock

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