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Through The Looking Glass: Why More Women Are Going On "Mirror Fasts"

08/21/2012

 

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iStockphoto/Thinkstock


Stopping to have a stare or two in the bathroom mirror is de riguer for most women. After all, mirrors are very necessary for putting on makeup, adjusting bra straps and generally making sure you're not wearing something utterly embarassing in public.

 

But a growing number of women are saying goodbye to mirrors, and throwing out their compacts. It's called a "mirror fast," and more and more women are taking part.

Women have been consciously choosing to avoid mirrors for years, but it was beauty writerAutumn Whitefield Madrano who first took the practice public. Madrano said she was sick of how looking in mirrors felt, and realized that all the preening was making her feel more self conscious about her appearance. 

"I wanted to see how much my mood was affected by the way I perceived my looks," said Madrano. "I was surprised at how quickly I stopped worrying about how I looked, and if I wasn’t thinking about it I assumed no one else was either, which is actually true." 

After a month, she returned to her mirrored life ways. But she's since done another mirror fast, and believes it's a great way to "check in" with herself. And, she says she's learned to separate her looks from her self esteem.

Mirror fasting can be difficult -- and for many women taking even a day or two off from looking at themselves in the mirror can be a painful experience; it challenges their sense of self. For Marisa Gizzio of Garnet Forge, PA, it was ultimately worth it, because it helped her rethink her own body image. “Any reflection, even in the sliding glass doors at the grocery store, I would automatically check if my butt was sticking out or my legs were too big,” she said. “It was such a waste of time.”

A waste of time -- and one that dangerously impacts self-esteem. And that's why social worker and therapist Adrienne Ressler recommends that even if you can't stop looking in the mirror, you should reevaluate your gaze. "You look at yourself with a scrunched-up face of disapproval and of course you’re not going to look good,” she told The New York Times. "Replace it with a look of acceptance and maybe repeat a word or phrase that, she said, “captures how you would like to feel in your body,” like “elegant” or “serene” or “I’m O.K.”

Have you ever gone mirror-free? Would you try it?

[New York Times]

[Daily Mail]

--Julie Gerstein

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