As international students who’d travelled to America with just a suitcase, none of us had any essentials when we arrived in Albany last year. On our very first day there we headed off to Walmart to get everything we needed and, among many other things, we all bought the same full length mirror.
After we each got our mirrors home and installed them in our rooms we began to notice something. All of the mirrors either lengthened and slimmed or shortened and widened your reflection just enough to be noticeable – think ‘House of Mirrors’ at a funfair
We discussed this occasionally and whenever we were in each others rooms we would comment on how different the reflection was to our own Walmart mirror.
My mirror was one that lengthened and slimmed and, after a while, I would forget that it was making me look longer and thinner than I really was. I liked what I saw and was only reminded that it wasn’t quite accurate when I looked in my roommate’s mirror, hers being the opposite to mine.
When I came back to England, coincidentally receiving comments about how much weight I’d lost while I’d been away (unintentionally, I might add, thanks to bad dining hall food), I looked happily at the reflection in my mirror in my bedroom and trusted that what it was showing me was real. For the whole summer I happily saw my reflection and felt good about myself.
Since moving back to Nottingham I’ve started to feel less confident about my body, I’ve started to make that wincing face when I see my reflection again. I’m not putting on any weight, I’m eating healthily, I couldn’t work out what was going wrong. That is until I went home this weekend and realised that the mirror in my bedroom at home is much more flattering than the one in Nottingham and as a direct result my self-esteem has taken a hit.
This has given me the disconcerting feeling that even what I thought I knew; that looking in a mirror will show me what I look like, might not be the case.
All I can think is how strange it is – that the slightest difference in a mirror, the smallest bend or curve that warps the reflection just a little can have this much of an impact. I keep thinking back to the more confident person I was over summer and wondering if there’s a way I can get back to that.
Maybe this is an opportunity to free myself from the scrutiny I give my body everyday.
What I need to do is adjust my way of thinking. So what that I don’t always like what I see in the mirror, who knows if it’s showing the real me anyway? As soon as I walk away I should assume I look great. We all should.
Of course, in an ideal world I wouldn’t be bothered about being ‘skinny’ at all, I’d be happy with the strengths of my personality and wouldn’t care what I looked like. But this isn’t an ideal world, I am the product of a society obsessed with image and that has placed my appearance as a factor which influences my happiness. Trust me, I’m working towards that ideal, but for now I’ll settle for being healthy, happy and trying to believe that the girl I saw in the mirror this summer is the girl that everyone else sees.
That’s all for now