Mirror, Mirror on the Wall…
“The worst fashion faux pas is to look in the mirror and not see yourself.” Iris Apfel
Recently I was trying some dresses on at the department store, and it turned out to be a very humbling experience. The mirror in the fitting room was huge and tree-way, so it seemed like every inch of my body was magnified. Did not matter which way I looked, I could not escape seeing some part of my very human body. And I never realized how many freckles I had on my back! So when I put on a dress and asked ‘Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?’, and the mirror replied ‘Definitely not you!! Hahaha (evil laughter)’, I took the dress off, left it, and ran away crying. Ok, I did not actually cry, only on the inside :).
You know how nowadays everyone is talking about choosing your thoughts? These are the thoughts that I had to choose from at that moment: I should never eat anything for the rest of my life; I should hire a personal trainer today, drop everything else in my life, and just work out; plastic surgery; no one should ever see me naked. And, last but not least, I have to figure out what to do with all these freckles. Basically, just a brand new body would do the trick :). Now, for those of you who do not know me, I wear size 2, and weigh 120 lbs. People think I do not eat, and look good even in a potato sack. This cannot be further from the truth :). I eat a lot, and the reason everything I wear looks great on me is because I know exactly what looks great on me, and only buy that. And I would look horrible in a potato sack, because it is neither in my colour, nor my style lol.
So there I was, half-naked, in the fitting room, having a very unpleasant dialogue with myself. And then I thought ‘Does this ever happen to my clients when I go shopping with them? Do they ever feel like nothing looks good on them? Do they wish they had a different, brand new body?’ I am sure it happens a lot. And not just with women, but men, too. Speaking from my experience shopping with men, they can be just as insecure about their bodies as women, sometimes even more. Women just vent to me when they are not satisfied with the way they look. Men, on the other side, almost apologize to me, saying things like ‘I had to stop working out a while ago because of this or that’, or ‘I am going on this weight loss program, so I will lose quite a few pounds soon’. And I tell every single one of them, and that is what I really think – ‘I have no attachment to your body being anything other than what it is. I accept your body unconditionally the way it is today. Let us just dress it in a way that highlights all your assets, and does not draw attention to what we do not want to emphasize.’
Interestingly, what I have come to realize is that our perception of ourselves has nothing to do with our size or shape. I had clients who wore size 16, and yet whenever something that they were trying on did not look good on them, they never blamed their bodies for it. They would just say that the item was not a good fit for them. And then there are petite women who take an outfit not looking great on them very personally. Sadly, that is me at times. It is so easy for me to love and accept my clients unconditionally, and to see what they see as their flaws as just the unique ways in which their bodies were created. I have to constantly remind myself that I am worthy of this unconditional acceptance on my behalf as well.
I see some similarity in women’s relationship with a mirror, and their relationship with men. We want to see/hear the truth, and nothing but the truth from both of them. Or do we really? We tell our men that we want them to always be completely honest with us. What we forget to mention is that the truth they have to tell us has to be exactly what we want to hear. Or else. How many times has it happened to you (if you are a woman) that your male partner tells you the truth, and your response to it is ‘I appreciate your honesty’ (and you literally have to push these words out of your mouth, because what you really want to say sounds totally different lol). In the meantime, what you are thinking is ‘Well, that was very insensitive of you! Would it have killed you to sugar coat this a little bit? Ok then, you want to hear the truth from me now? I am not talking or paying attention to you until you make up to me for your brutal honesty!’ True or true?
The same with the mirror. We look at it to know exactly what is going on with our face, hair, and body. And we do want to see the truth in the mirror, down to every little detail. That is the whole point of looking in it. We keep turning around, trying to see ourselves from every possible angle. We even use magnifying mirrors for some facial grooming procedures (another humbling experience…). But sometimes, when I am standing by the window, with the sun illuminating my face, and looking in the mirror that magnifies by ten times, and I see every tiny freckle and every pore, and the word ‘laser’ starts pounding in my head, I wonder – is that too much honesty for my own good? If the only way I can see an imperfection (my perception of what I am seeing) is with the sun in my face and magnifying mirror, can anyone even see it?
From now on, when I go shopping with my clients, I will ask them to put the outfit on in the fitting room, and then come out and show it to me, without over-analyzing it themselves by staring in the mirror. If they could make perfect choices themselves when shopping for clothes, they would not have hired me. And the way I look at them is usually a lot more loving and accepting than how they see themselves. So I will definitely take more charge now when it comes to making ‘to buy, or not to buy’ decisions for them. I will say something like ‘I am your mirror. Trust me. I am totally objective, and have no insecurities, attachments, or expectations about your body being a certain way. You see your TRUE reflection, that is unaltered by your mind, in my eyes. It is in your best interest to go with what I suggest’. Because the truth is, what we THINK we see in the mirror is so often not what other people see when they look at us.
Finally, as my girlfriend said to me once, “All your wrinkles are in your head!” Ironically, I could have said the same thing to her :).