CW: This article discusses topics of body dysmorphia and mental health which could be distressing to some readers.
The modern age is online. Endless scrolling, endless images of perfectly-sculpted bodies [thanks photoshop!] with long glossy hair and absolutely flawless clear skin… but as questioned by The Just Girl Project:
‘Where are the girls with folds, flabs, moles and marks? How can people possibly exist without lumps and bumps scouring their skin?’
In an attempt to realise that feeling beautiful has nothing to do with what you look like; I challenge you through this article to turn your mirror around… even for just ONE DAY. Let’s face it, it would be unhealthy to switch off any toxic thoughts and not properly address them, and hey, as much as I wish you could simply switch them off for a little while, that's not possible either- but you can remind yourself that your natural joyous glow and feelings of freedom come from within and redirect your thinking patterns.
In theory, it’s a lovely thought—'worshipping your body because it’s yours, because our beauty-centric culture is designed to be exclusive—to reject complete assimilation seems like the ultimate victory.' But, learning to love what you see can be a long road filled with unhealthy body obsessions... so this concept is focused on body liberation, self-care and learning to love how you feel. 'Liberation is slowly learning how to become the best version of our whole selves', a much healthier and lasting approach.
As long as unrealistic beauty standards are out there in the world, there is a clear rise in resurgence of body dysmorphia in both adolescents and adults. Therefore, we all need to develop body-positive habits for promoting self-love, and so, inspired by an array of ideas… welcome to my mirror challenge. It’s time to pull out your best self-care bucket lists and get ready for the best day of your week. Let’s dive head first into living in the moment with zero checks on our appearance throughout the day.
1. Mirror, Mirror, Off the Wall
Who is the fairest of them all?! Well, Kjerstin Gruy fits high up on this list. The inspirational author paged a book about how she survived a whole year without mirrors, reciting touching accounts full of
'glimpses of her interior life, articulated so honestly and with such precision that at times it felt like I was in her head--or, more accurately, that she was in mine, and that of every woman who has ever looked in the mirror and seen not how we look, but how we feel.'
That last statement is exactly the premise of this challenge, is life really about how we look or how we feel? Now, let’s not get caught up in the proof this mirror turning has tested benefits, and instead, see it for ourselves.
2. Get that coffee and cake
I can’t speak for everyone, but I know my day starts a whole lot better with a fancy drink and cake. A nice herbal tea or if I’m feeling especially drained… a limited-edition frappe from the local coffee shop. Sitting there in the morning sun with the windows open feeling rejuvenated.
But there are days when I stop myself. I know I rarely splash out for the frappe option; I know that I usually eat a well-balanced diet, and I know that we all have weeks where that goes out the window and that’s okay- hence the term ‘balanced’. But sometimes I can’t help but see myself in the mirror standing with the drink that brings me pure joy and question if it’s too many calories or any other new-fangled terminology words I’d heard from fad diets online.
This, however, is why I’m setting this challenge for you… I stopped looking in the mirror on these mornings at first. I let myself feel ready for the day in whatever way I needed in that moment. Then, I’d look back in the mirror and, yes, my body had changed- but not wider, or lumpier or frumpier… I was smiling and posing through a feeling of freedom that I’d granted myself. Call me cheesy, but believe me, it’s worth it.
3. Buy yourself those flowers… But more importantly, buy yourself those clothes
We all love a good bit of retail therapy, I’m sure you’re guilty as charged, but don’t stress, this doesn’t have to be an expensive landmark in the day- you could pull out that outfit from your wardrobe that makes you feel so happy you just never feel confident to wear it outside.
Repeat after me: This makes me feel so happy, I just don’t have the confidence to sacrifice my happiness. Go ahead, say it again… out loud this time.
By saying the intrusive thoughts out loud, you’ve taken ownership of that thought. You can now realise how silly it sounds to say that out loud in the real world away from the trappings of internal monologue. Then you can bring a little perspective, I bet you wouldn’t tell your best friend to sacrifice their happiness. And like a best friend, your body has weathered every storm and carries you through life, so it’s time to show yourself some love and truly embrace the body liberation movement. It all takes time, but small steps will all lead somewhere.
4. Smile your way through every step of the day
No matter what is left on your self-care bucket list, keep smiling through every task and challenge, being sure to take notice of your presence in the moment and that little bit of childish freedom to just be content that starts poking through. Seems simple huh? Just be yourself and have fun.
5. Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall
Now, who's the fairest of them all? The time has come to turn that mirror back around. Slowly, don’t rush and don’t be afraid.
Take a second to notice the beaming smile after a day well-lived. Every loose strand of hair as you danced in the wind, the gorgeous outfit you’ve stared at for ages finally off the hanger and on your body, and that BEAMING SMILE after a day of living in the moment.
I guarantee you that you look beautiful even though at first it will be hard to unwire any negative feelings you’ve held about yourself for years. But the positive energy of your day of freedom will be radiating. We all know that one person who just embraces life and we feel jealous of how free and happy they look... why can’t that be you too?
Now, this isn’t a fix for body dysmorphia, and we are in-built as humans with a tendency to compare ourselves to others. But this ideology of taking the mirrors away for a week, just one day at a time, shows that there is so much more to life than the thoughts in our head and the way we look. Besides, if you’re really living in the moment, does it even matter how we look whilst we do it?
‘Doing what you like is freedom. Liking what you do is happiness.’ And happiness, is the most-flattering thing you can wear.
MORE FROM MINDLESS MAG: Why not consider 6 things to do from today to promote body positivity and learn to embrace yourself?