Life Without a Mirror

The other day, one of those when I actually picked a nice shirt out of the closet rather than pull on a t-shirt from the pile of laundry waiting to be folded, a woman smiled at me and told me I was very beautiful. It’s a nice thing to hear. I have taught myself to graciously accept a compliment, so I thanked her and told her that she had made me feel good. Then I did what so many of us do and I explained that I had spent my life not really feeling beautiful. After we parted I thought about it (while I spent the rest of the day feeling beautiful!)
What if we lived life without a mirror? Not just the literal mirror that we use to brush our hair and pluck our chin whiskers, but the figurative mirror of seeing ourself in what others say about us?
I remember going through old photos when my grandfather was “purging” and finding that my Nanna had cut herself out of many of the photos. She was very focused on how she looked, especially to others. We have a family fable of the times she “lied” to the bus drivers by not paying the senior fare to which she was entitled, and asking grandchildren not to call her “Nanna” in public. And now as I look at past photos (even if I didn’t want to Facebook and Shutterfly make sure I do when they show me the “remember this?” pictures), often I think Oh, I thought I looked better than this then. Boy was I fat, boy did my hair look weird, that outfit wasn’t really very flattering...yada, yada, yada.
At times I’m sad that we haven’t made as much progress as I would like in raising young people who are not obsessed with how they look. I still yearn for a day when people are obsessed with how they act, who they really are on the kindness and empathy scales, rather than what that mirror or photo shows them.