Before we leave the house, we stand in front of a mirror, one last time, to make sure we look put-together. If we go to the bathroom at work, we check the sink mirror for any flyways or food in our teeth. Even walking down the street, we sneak-a-peak at our reflection in store windows, just in case we appear disheveled. Keeping tabs on our appearances has become so second nature to us we don’t even realize how habitual it has become. I know I didn’t. Well…until I was forced to stop.
At first, it was stressful. How was I supposed to meet my friends for lunch without seeing if my shoes matched my sundress? Surprisingly, after a month, it helped bring my stress down.
A month ago, I did the most adult thing possible; I bought a house. It was the quintessential starter home with a pale yellow exterior, two bedrooms, and a gigantic backyard. My sweetie and I were beyond happy. Moving in, of course, was a pain in the butt. We transferred all we could, but the house still needed a lot in the decorating department. There was a small mirror in the bathroom that barely showed my collarbone, but nothing of the full length variety. At my last home, I had a huge floor length mirror. Not only was it great for checking-out my outfits, but also perfect for monitoring my alignment during yoga. Naturally, it was my plan to get a mirror ASAP, but weeks went by and still nothing. In fact, I started to realize, I didn’t want one.
Too many times, I thought a look would work in my head, but once I saw it on, I’d decided it was a no-go. At my work it was important to look professional, but the other women in my office turned each day into a spectacular fashion show. How was I supposed to compete with potentially dreary, ill-fitted attire? Outings with friends, even date night, were always opportunities to express my personality through fashion, so it was imperative I looked on point. I also had the added twist of visually seeing my digestive problems. No matter what I ate, my stomach would become unbelievably distended and bloated. My mornings were consumed with trying to stay comfortable, look professional, while still selecting clothes that fit and hid my swollen stomach. Inevitably, each time I would look in the mirror, my confidence would dive and my stress level rise.
Granted, I still had the small bathroom mirror, and by no means did I avoid mirrors while out-and-about, but eliminating a full length mirror in my home turned into a relief. Gradually, I lost interest in what I was wearing each day. I still picked quality pieces I felt matched, but I was no longer worrying about little details like matching earrings or perfectly knotted scarves. Most of all, I wasn’t constantly bombarded with images and reminders of how my health was doing poorly.
When I didn’t feel well, I usually overcompensated with my looks. If I looked good and made everyone else think I was doing well, then I started to believe it myself. Since my Crohn’s Disease was going downhill, it was easy to become consumed with my appearance. I wasn’t able to control how I felt on the inside, so I became controlling on how I looked on the outside.
The problem was, even if I was looking fabulous, all it would take was one glance in a mirrr to make me feel depressed about my chronic illness. Eliminating a full length mirror in my home wasn’t a life altering event, but it did free me from all the self-induced stress. My mood and spirit became uplifted in the morning, energy was no longer being drained on something incredibly narcissistic, and my confidence was on the upswing.
There are still times when looking in a mirror is a necessity. Relentlessly seeing my distended stomach may have become depressing, but initially it was a helpful alert to a bigger digestive issue. Without a doubt, I will eventually buy a full length mirror, but this time, it will be hidden in a closet unless absolutely necessary. No more of those constant visual updates for me.