Sometimes I wonder what would happen if we all stopped worrying about what we look like.
What if there were no mirrors or photographs? What if Photoshop never existed? What if our only chance of seeing our own faces would be when we looked into still water or into someone else’s eyes?
The makeup industry would falter or tank. People might not try as hard to be fit unless we all discovered how good it feels to exercise and eat right for its own sake. We wouldn’t make choices about how others would see us–we’d make clothing choices based on what feels comfortable. And we’d be less likely to compare ourselves to each other’s appearances. We’d probably compare on other levels–intelligence or wealth, maybe–but we would not think of ourselves as superior or inferior to others on the basis of our own appearance.
One woman did a year-long self-experiment where she got rid of all the mirrors in her house. She is a woman of average weight with blonde hair and a bright smile, if I recall from her interview. She did not look at herself for a year, and was surprised at how her priorities changed. Her focus turned outward. She was free of the distractions and inhibitions that come with worrying about how she looked. Of course she stayed clean and healthy and well groomed and well dressed, but she no longer stood in front of a mirror and criticized what she saw.
She became truly comfortable in her non-supermodel skin. The favorite of her features became her soft, squishy middle, which became comfortable instead of repulsive.
I remember hating my body when I was in junior high and early high school. I remember thinking and feeling thinner than I was–and then looking in a mirror or going clothes shopping and seeing the embarrassing truth. I felt fine about me–until I looked in a mirror.
I got healthy, though. I learned to love exercise and good food. But I still hated parts of me.
My skin erupted. I stared into the mirror a lot. And I was miserable.
Then I decided to stop looking in the mirror, to stop washing my face, to stop caring. For months. I ate right, I exercised, I drank water, and barely glanced at the mirror in the mornings. I made myself not care.
Either my skin cleared, or I learned to like my face again. Not sure. But I’m okay with how I look now. I may never look like I did before second puberty slapped some scars on my face, but I look okay. And that’s okay.
Ceasing to care is the first step to being happy in the skin you’ve been given. Like all aspects of stewardship, it’s a matter of taking care of what you’ve been given. Exercise. Eat right. Sleep well. Dress well. Those who love you won’t care if you’re not on top of your game 100% of the time.
And those who don’t love you are too busy staring in their own mirrors to notice, anyway.