Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Mirrors Were Invented By Squirrels

In the latest of our Women's Group meetings we discussed cosmetic surgery and our perceptions of our physical selves, among other tangents. One of these tangents was about how we tend to look at ourselves in any available reflective surface, no matter where we are. It is a phenomenon in Korea that all elevators ('lifts', for my Australian readers) have mirrors on at least three walls, and quite often on the door as well. A challenge was set: can we avoid looking at ourselves all day? Exceptions were made for getting ready in the morning, after lunch (don't want to scare kids and cause co-workers to talk by having something stuck in your teeth), and at night; ie: three times a day.

Monday I woke up and looked at mirrors a minimal amount of times in order to make myself a presentable teacher. In the elevator, I glanced at my reflection once, and then studiously looked at the floor. This type of behaviour went on for the rest of the day. It was an interesting experiment. Like Aubrey, I found I knew exactly where I would be able to catch a glimpse of myself in the shops I passed, and other paths I frequented. For the most part, I did reletively well, and didn't sneak all that many peaks at myself.

Tuesday did not go so well. Aubs dyed my hair Monday night, and while I admired the new colour while getting ready in the morning, I was determind to adhere to the mirror challenge once again.
To make a long story short, I failed miserably, my downfall being born of a comment from a kindy kid: "Tee-cherr! Hair. Big."

I hate my hair at the best of times (it's thick and there's a lot of it, so it has a tendency to be boofy and frizzy), and am pretty self-concious about it. Even though I checked my appearance after the class (and it wasn't that bad, really), Pearl's comment did me in. For the rest of the day I studied my appearance at every opportunity.

And I found I'd liked myself better on Monday. I liked having only a vague idea of my appearance. I realised on Tueday just how critical our sub-conscience self-evaluation can be as we catch brief (and sometimes distorted) glipses of ourselves throughout the day. Of course, it's not always critical; sometimes it's a nice self-esteem boost - but usually (for me, at least), that boost only comes when I already feel good about the way I look. It can happen that the more I study my appearance, the more I notice the things I dislike.

With these thoughts in mind, today (Wednesday) has been somewhat of a better day. Although I made thouroughly sure that my hair was completely de-boofed before I left the house this morning (ok, so I've checked it via touch and occasional stolen glances), and making allowances for checking my technique - a good excuse, I know - in the mirrors at the gym, I have kept my gaze mostly averted from the masses of mirrors, windows, computer screens and elevator doors that my paths cross (or, to put it more accurately: run parrallel to.)

And I feel pretty good.

Captain Anti-Mirror, who wonders if it may be Bob answering when I say 'Mirror, mirror on the wall: Do I look ok today?'


Liz said...

Good work, Ang! I have yet to try the challenge. I keep forgetting about it... although some might call it "convenient forgetfulness." To be totally honest, the thought of avoiding all mirrors for an entire day is a bit intimidating (especially in Korea where there is a mirror everywhere you turn... literally). All that to say, way to go!

Aubrey said...

Great post! I think you said it much better than I was able to; I had the same experiences. I especially liked what you said about how we sometimes rely on the distorted reflections of ourselves. I do that both with a distorted mirror and with the occasional cutting comments from students and Korean coworkers.
By the way, I can't wait to see your hair! I'll get that magazine pic to you soon.