We have a new mirror in our house. It occupies the wall across from our bedroom door, so I see myself in it every time I walk in and out of my room.
This new mirror is the first and only full length mirror in our house. My in-laws gave it to us when they decided they didn’t need it anymore. I took it eagerly, as I’d always wanted something I could see my outfit in before I left the house.
For three years the only two mirrors we’ve had were the one above the bathroom sink and one mounted above the mantel that serves as the headboard of our bed (we sleep in what is supposed to be our living room). So for three years, I couldn’t see my entire reflection unless I stood on my toilet or my bed. Needless to say, I didn’t catch a glimpse of my entire body much.
Now I see it all the time–at least ten time a day. And you know what? I don’t really like it. I don’t like what I see and I don’t like seeing it all the damn time. Seeing my own reflection on the regular has me thinking about how I look. A lot. And I don’t like a lot of the things I’m thinking.
I have never had a great relationship with body image. I almost phrased that to say that I’ve never had a great relationship with my body, but that isn’t true. I’ve always felt my body was strong and capable, even when I haven’t loved how it looked. It’s not that I don’t respect my body, it’s that I don’t love the way it looks.
It has taken me two decades–and some miracle depression medication–to let go of my (at one time severe) compulsive eating and obsessions with food. I don’t want to EVER go back there. Right now I feel I’m in a relatively good place: I eat because I am hungry and I exercise because it makes me feel good. I don’t want to have to change either to change my body. My clothes fit fine, I feel strong, I don’t think about food except to plan upcoming meals, and I look forward to getting my sweat on. Sure I wish I ate healthier food and I wish I could work out more, but I know that right now, this is what I am capable of, and it works.
So it’s really pissing me off that I’m not happy with my own reflection.
I have friends, both in real life and online, that are transforming themselves and/or already look amazing. Am I comparing myself with how they look? Or what they are doing? The thing is, I know I’m doing all I can do right now–I can’t take on some restrictive diet or add more workouts to my regimen. What I’m doing really is working for me. Mostly my brain knows that, but this little voice whispers… what could you look like if you did what they do?
I’d probably look really fucking good, but it would cost me more time and mental energy than I have right now (and honestly-for me-probably more than it would be worth). At this stage in my life, I simply can’t afford to do more. And there are a lot of years ahead of me (hopefully) when I can make eating better and exercising more a bigger priority. It’s okay for that to be something I tackle farther down the road.
Because right now, I feel good. I look good. I don’t need to make things harder. Sure there are parts of me I’d like to change, but you know what? When I was starving myself and exercising like crazy–when I weighed 125lbs and wore a size 4 (in Europe!)–there were parts of myself I wanted to change. My abs will never be flat, my stomach roll will never disappear, my stretch marks will always ravage my abdomen, my torso will never be long. My body type, and history, just won’t allow me to achieve what I’ve foolishly embraced as the absolute ideal. (And yes, I’m attempting to alter that ideal to better match reality, but it’s hard to override the image I’ve been served for a lifetime).
I’ve worked so hard to feel good about how my body looks, it’s nerve wracking that one mirror placed in a well trafficked area of my home could undo it.
And yes I know I could take down the mirror. The trouble is, it looks really good where it’s been hung, and I gouged some pretty sizable holes into the wall hanging it, so I’d need to find a pretty decent piece of art to replace it. Also, I don’t want to let this part of myself win, the part that whispers shitty things in my ear after a big meal or when I’m bloated. I want to be able to see myself and feel good regardless. I don’t want feeling good about my body to depend on it not being visible.
Clearly I have a lot more work to do, and frankly I’m tired of this kind of work. But I recognize that it’s some of the most important work I can do, especially now that I have a daughter in my house. The reality is I’m probably never going to look better than I do now–and I look damn good! So I’m going to start telling myself that, even when I’m having a hard time believing it.
Do you have a full length mirror in your home? How does seeing yourself make you feel?