By Hannah McKelvey
By Hannah McKelvey Contributing Writer
Have you ever looked in a mirror and not liked the way you looked? Perhaps your hair looked askew, you did not like the way your jeans fit, you hate your prominent forehead, or maybe you were not feeling yourself. These thoughts pop into my head almost every single time I have looked into a mirror. So a few years ago, I refused to have a mirror in my room.
It initially started with laziness. I had moved into my sophomore year dorm, I was living alone, and it was during the dark times when Target did not exist in Vermont, so I didn’t go out looking for a mirror. As the days passed, not constantly checking myself in a mirror, I started to notice how much less I put myself down.
I would stand in front of the mirror and pick and probe at all of the places that I thought had too much fat or that I was too pale because you could see the small spider veins on my thighs.
Mirrors surround our everyday lives, whether we know it or not. They hang in our bathrooms and throughout our homes, and reflections flood our computers, phones, windows, and screens. Constantly looking at myself and realizing I do not fit the ideal body that our media and society portrays created a toxic relationship between myself and how I look.
This unrealistic expectation that society sets for us pushes younger and younger girls to have unrealistic expectations when it comes to body image. The average woman is 5’4” and 170 pounds. The average woman model is 5’10” and 110 pounds. It makes a lot of sense that our society has a body image issue when you really think about it. Too many people long for a different body then the ones that they have. They want to be skinnier, taller, shorter, they want a different nose.
Back in 2011, blogger Autumn Whitefield-Madrano started a mirror fasting challenge. She went one month without looking at any reflective surface because she realized she was spending a lot of time worrying about her appearance. After a month, she started to believe that she didn’t have to worry about how she looked to be a functioning human.
While new studies in England show that mirror fasting is only a temporary fix, it does give light to fix a problem that seriously needs addressing. The studies show for a person to accept themselves fully, they should look into mirrors and have a positive dialogue about how they look; like giving yourself at least one compliment every time you look in the mirror.
For me, living without a full-length mirror two full years has provided a way to detach from how I look, and not worry whether I fit into societal beauty standards. I can put on an outfit and simply walk out the door. It no longer crosses my mind whether an outfit matches or how a pair of jeans fit.
Whether you try a mirror fast or try looking into the mirror and complimenting your body, I hope you eventually love yourself and body because everyone is beautiful. I have a long way to go to fully accept how I look and who I am. But I feel invigorated by the fact that I no longer criticize my body every single time I face a full length mirror.
Hannah McKelvey ’20 is a Media Studies, Journalism & Digital Arts major.