|This is the mirror in my studio on campus. I like this mirror (so do my students!) because it thinnifies me, a lot.|
I really like the mirror on campus. I don't know if it's the way that it's hung, or if it's a bit warped, or what, but looking in that mirror is nice, because my first thought isn't about how overweight I currently am. I think that mirror shaves a good 30-40 pounds off of me, and I'm not even kidding. Even my students mention it--well, only the female students actually do. But the guys have to be thinking it, right?
Conversely, I try to avoid the full-length mirror in my bedroom, because I am positive it adds another 10-20 pounds on my already too-thick waistline. I even put Puccini's crate in front of it so I don't have to see my fat thighs every time I walk by.
I'm not in love with the mirror over my dresser, but I don't hate it either. In fact, of all the mirrors I see myself in on a daily basis, I'm pretty sure this is the one that gives the most accurate picture of how I really look. And actually, sometimes I think I look pretty good in that mirror, depending on the jeans I pulled out of the drawer.
I've been thinking a lot about those mirrors and what they do to my perception of my body. And I've come to the conclusion that I'm kind of glad I have all of them. Because, if I just had the wonderful thinnifying mirror on campus, I might think I'm something I'm most definitely not: skinny. I used to be very skinny, but now, nobody is ever likely to use that word to describe me. And while that sometimes makes me sad, I know that I can't pretend to be something I'm not. And if I ever want to be skinny again, I'll have to keep up with the exercise and the eating right and figuring out the thyroid issues (more on all of that in another blog post)(maybe).
And what if I only had the fat mirror! I would be so depressed all the time. Maybe I would work harder to lose weight, but I think with the mirror being as inaccurate as it is, I would also give up pretty easily. Even Chloe, who is so skinny it's impossible to find pants that fit her, thinks she looks fat in the fat mirror. Totally depressing.
But then there is the accurate mirror. It brings me back to center, and while I can still see my many flaws, I am also able to see many of the nice things about the reflection staring back at me. And in that mirror I can actually tell that I've lost a little bit of weight in the last couple months. It doesn't lie like the other mirrors. I can trust what I see.
And there are other kinds of mirrors. The ones that live in your head. On many days I only ever look in the fat mirror as I go about my life, and the narrative of "you're not good enough" "you can't do that" "nobody likes you" "you are a terrible mother" runs on an endless loop through my mind.
Sure, sometimes that skinny mirror is there, too. When it is, I am INVINCIBLE!, not invisible. I am AWESOME!, not loathsome. But, unfortunately, that mirror never stays around for long. The fat mirror always comes back and reminds me just how not awesome I really am.
The problem with both of these mirrors is that you never feel you can change. When you're only seeing your flaws, you feel like you aren't capable of change and when you're only seeing your strengths, you don't need to change.
Which is why I'm really working on seeing myself through the accurate lens. The mirror that always tells the truth. The one that tells me I look good in these jeans but not those. It tells me that I am a good mother, but maybe I need to work on being more present with my children. That I do sing well, but need to work on my practice ethic. That I really can do whatever I put my mind to, I just need to put my mind to it.
Because that is when real change happens: when we can see clearly what needs changing and what doesn't. And that's also when we begin to see that all reflections are beautiful, especially the imperfect ones.