“What?!  You don’t have a full length mirror?!,” I exclaim with astonishment.
“Nope,” says my good friend and neighbor, Taryn.
This came up because I wanted to model my new online purchase and get her advice on whether to keep or return it.
Now, if she were someone who didn’t concern herself with beauty and fashion, I wouldn’t be at all surprised.  But she is very passionate about her appearance.  I’m not trying to paint her as some fashionista.  She’s a mom who spends most of her day running after her son and managing the day-today life of her family.  Even so, she always looks great.
Hence my shock when she told me she didn’t have a one.  How can you not have a full length mirror to check if the boots match the pants or if the skirt is looking a bit loose or tight?
Then it hit me: the absence of a mirror signifies more than a lack of space in a New York apartment.  It’s a powerful sign of inner confidence and strength.
In “Look at My Ugly Face,” Sue Halprin’s discusses, among many interesting topics, the cultural meanings behind fairy tales.  One of these is “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” a story I read frequently to my daughter btw (her request).
As we all know, a key aspect to this story is the evil stepmother’s relationship with her mirror.  The mirror doesn’t just reflect back an image of the queen; it verbally responds to her.  And it’s power eventually ruins her.  Halprin writes:
“Gazing into the mirror, the step-mother becomes obsessed with the beauty that has been used to define her by her culture.  Mistaking appearance for reality… she has no inner experience of beauty, but must rely on her mirror to know she is the most beautiful.” (p.86)
The mirror is a dangerous tool.  It forces the viewer to inspect, critique and potentially obsess over his/her aesthetic beauty.  Also, it only reflects on part of our beauty — our outer beauty — and thus limits our appreciation for the full personal beauty we all have.  Of course, no one wants to walk out of the house with a huge deodorant stain or an undone zipper, but maybe if we stopped looking so much at ourselves and just BELIEVED we looked great, we’d feel so much better about ourselves.
During our conversation I promised to buy Taryn a mirror.  But I think I’m going to take that back and buy her some of her favorite wine instead.

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