Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

How long could you go without looking in the mirror?

rexfeatures_1536987a.jpg
rexfeatures_829871a.jpg
rexfeatures_1398980a.jpg

The average British woman looks at herself in a mirror 38 times a day - be that a once-over in a shop window reflection or a check for stray mascara marks in a compact.

So to shun the use of mirrors altogether is a drastic move; but one a growing minority of women are turning to as a confidence-boosting exercise.

The so-called "mirror fasting" movement began in the US, with New York-based blogger Autumn Whitefield Madrano documenting her Month Without Mirrors in May last year.

"The goal was to loosen the grip that self-consciousness has had on me for much of my life — that happened, to a degree, but what I discovered during my month without mirrors was the way in which I use mirrors to manage other facets of my life," the 35-year-old concluded.

"The mirror is a quest for control. Control over the image we present to the world, sure; control over fitting the beauty standard, to a degree. Mostly, though, surveillance is an effort to carefully control our ideas about ourselves.

"In addition to realizing that I don’t have to strive to look pretty every minute, I thought far less about looks this month than I normally do. I didn’t feel better or worse about my appearance; I rarely felt pretty or unpretty. I just didn’t care as much."

Kjerstin Gruys, a 20-something PHD student and recovered anorexic, reached similar conclusions. She decided to go without mirrors for an entire year - including six months in the lead up to, and over, her wedding.

In her blog, Mirror, Mirror Off The Wall, she wrote: "I've managed to better separate my looks from my self-esteem. This is probably the most powerful secret to feeling beautiful."

She's now secured publishing rights for a book that will explore her experience without mirrors, "from the perils of poppy-seed teeth and makeup meltdown, to the pressures of bridal beauty and the nuances of self-presentation as a young academic."

Research published in Behaviour Research and Therapy this year indicated British women look at themselves in the mirror 38 times a day, as opposed to 18 times a day for men.

A summary of research on mirrors and body image by the Oxford-based Social Issues Research Centre (SIRC) found that what we see in the mirror and how we react to it is influenced by a huge range of variables, including:

"Sex, age, ethnic group, sexual orientation, mood, eating disorders, what they've been watching on TV, what magazines they read, whether they're married or single, what kind of childhood they had, whether they take part in sports, what phase of the menstrual cycle they're in, whether they are pregnant, where they've been shopping – and even what they had for lunch."

It also noted that nearly 80% of women are likely to be dissatisfied with their reflection and more than half see a distorted image, compared to men who "are more likely to be either pleased with what they see or indifferent."

The reasons for this include cultural tendencies to judge women on their appearance more than men and progressively more unrealistic notions of female beauty that we're exposed to on a day-to-day basis.

"It has been estimated that young women now see more images of outstandingly beautiful women in one day than our mothers saw throughout their entire adolescence," SIRC said.

What do you think? Would you go a month - or a year - without mirrors? How much do mirrors reinforce or distort our self-image? Are we better off without them or is "mirror fasting" diverting from the actual issue of self-esteem and how to deal with that in the face of ever-increasing societal pressures? Let us know your thoughts below or on Twitter.

Picture credits: Rex Features

Related

rexfeatures_1805122fs.jpg

Britain's most hated foods revealed

juicing-plans.jpg

4 Juicing Plans For Your Skin

A-shade-of-Grey---cocktail-.jpg

Meet the Fifty Shades cocktail

Comments

More

Serena Williams had the best response for reporter who criticised her

"Are you serious?"

by Sarah Biddlecombe
20 Jan 2017

Married at First Sight’s Caroline reveals truth about marriage to Adam

Steel yourselves, romantics

by Kayleigh Dray
20 Jan 2017

Listen to A-listers narrate the history of Planned Parenthood

“No woman can call herself free who does not own and control her body”

by Sarah Biddlecombe
19 Jan 2017

Wife Swap set to return with one-off Brexit special

What happens when a Remain voter finds herself living in a family of Brexit fans?

by Kayleigh Dray
19 Jan 2017

The 2017 Feminist Calendar: celebrate the sisterhood all year round

The future is female

by The Stylist web team
19 Jan 2017

Unicorn lattes are the new brunch trend taking over your Instagram

These healing concoctions are almost too pretty to drink

by Kayleigh Dray
19 Jan 2017

Will & Grace is officially coming back to TV and we can’t wait

NBC has ordered 10 new episodes of the iconic show to air later this year.

by Moya Crockett
19 Jan 2017

Men refuse to apply for jobs that use “feminine” words

They don't want to be "sympathetic" or "caring"

by Sarah Biddlecombe
19 Jan 2017

This new DIY divorce app vows to help you to ‘consciously uncouple’

Because there really is an app for everything nowadays

by Kayleigh Dray
18 Jan 2017

Rachel Court wants employers to watch for these abuse warning signs

A woman who survived being shot by her husband has shared a letter from her old boss, revealing the extent to which her partner controlled her life for years

by Kayleigh Dray
18 Jan 2017