October 8, 2009

Mirror Experiment- Day 2

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 7:12 pm by kellyfdennis

vintage-mirror-frame-isolated-100148377Ok, so I was expecting day 2 to be easier than day1.  It wasn’t.

I picked clothes that I had not worn together before.  Therefore, when I got dressed this morning, I was wondering how the whole ensemble looked…of course, I couldn’t check…no mirrors. I looked for lint and whatnot, I was fine there, but I couldn’t help wondering if this outfit was flattering, or professional enough.  So, I let it go and proceeded to do my hair.  No one mentioned any sticky uppy parts yesterday, so I did it the same way.  I patted around to make sure the gel would keep that stubborn hair in place.

Next came make up.  Once again I had to use the compact for eyeliner.  It was harder today to resist the urge to look elsewhere with the compact.  But I didn’t.  I moved on to mascara; again wondering if I had the same amount on both eyes.

As I left the house, I remembering wondering why it was so important to me that I look “put together”. Today I didn’t glance at the mirror right inside our back door…I remembered that I wouldn’t be able to check.

Once in the car, I thought, “I could just glance a little longer in the rear view mirror while backing up…then I would be sure that at least my hair and make up were ok, even if my outfit may be off base.”

But I didn’t.

Once I got to work, the experiment was easier because I was distracted.  However, I remember wondering if my first client was critiquing my outfit, as she is a “well dressed” woman. After I got going with clients, though,  I really didn’t think about my appearance or the experiment.  Until lunch.  I went in the bathroom and had to think about whether or not I wanted to cheat and look at my outfit. (no spinach for lunch today, so teeth weren’t a problem.)  I stood in the doorway and tried to figure out the answer to the question which plagued me earlier. Why is it so important to me that I look “put together”?  I realized that to me, “put together” means competent.  If my appearance is “right” then my clients will perceive me as competent.

Anyone who knows me can guess what I said next…”that’s ridiculous!”. Competence as a counselor is based on many things.  Sure, appearance plays into how I am perceived, but not nearly as much as I was imagining.  I didn’t look in the bathroom mirror.

I finished out my counseling day and proceeded into the front office to wrap up. I happened to catch a glimpse of myself in the plate glass window that separates the waiting room from the front office…my outfit looked ok.

Boy, is this challenging. Tomorrow will be easier, right?

2 Comments »

  1. freeinhim said,

    Today was my third and final day of this interesting experiment. I didn’t want to do this at all. I didn’t even think I could do it. I figured I’d get about halfway through the first day (if that) and then quit. While I’m somewhat relieved that it’s over, I learned some good things. Looking back, it wasn’t at all what I expected. The things I learned surprised me. But let’s go back to the beginning of day 1. I knew that I wasn’t going to get ready with a mirror. It was actually the first thing I thought about when I woke up. I went to the kitchen to start the coffee. While getting the coffee grounds from the microwave stand, I leaned over and looked at my reflection in the microwave door. I don’t even know why I did it. Do I normally do that? I have no idea. Getting ready that morning was fairly uneventful. I had washed and straightened my hair the day before so I pretty much just had to brush it. It had been a decent hair day the previous day, so I knew it would be okay and I didn’t have to stress about it. Make-up wasn’t too bad. Used a mirror for the eye stuff so I could keep my eyes in one piece. Getting in the car I caught myself looking at my reflection in the window. Again I asked myself if I always do that. I got to school and really had to remind myself anytime I left my classroom that I wouldn’t look in a mirror or any glass windows. Nothing huge like sticky uppy hair or spinach casserole for me this day. So while I had to constantly tell myself not to look at my reflection, it was pretty uneventful. Day 2 was hard. I washed my hair which meant I had to blow it dry and straighten it. Blowing it dry wasn’t too bad. I was concerned however about straightening it. I was concerned first of all that I would burn my forearms or neck. Then I was concerned that I would miss a section of it and it would look strange. I tried to be methodical and I kept running my hands over it, but I really had no idea what it looked like. I really had to resist the urge to look at my bangs while doing my eye make-up, but I didn’t look. I worked hard at remembering all morning that I wasn’t looking at my reflection. But second period a student told me that my hair looked different. I stopped dead in my tracks and wanted to know what was different about it. She just shrugged her shoulders and said, “It’s just different, that’s all.” I was already paranoid and that put me over the top. I really wanted to go look at it, but I didn’t. Later that day I went to a friend’s house and she also said my hair looked different. When I asked her what was different about it, she said she couldn’t put her finger on it. Great! Now I really wanted to look. But I resisted. Getting ready this morning wasn’t too bad because my hair had already been straightened – even though I didn’t know what it looked like yesterday. So I did try to straighten it more just in case I missed anything last time. Last night before bed I felt a pimple starting. Yeah, that’s gross, I know, but it’s life. When I got up this morning I could tell it had gotten bigger. I wanted to look at it. Again, gross, . . . but I needed to put some concealer on it and I wanted to make sure I got it covered well. Instead, I put the concealer on differently than I normally would and hoped I got it all rubbed in. It nearly killed me (or so I thought) to not look, but I didn’t. Several times today I wondered how visible it was and how bad it looked.

    So what did I learn from all this? Good question. First of all, I look at myself a lot!! Now I feel like a narcissist. Next, I didn’t mention in the above diatribe anything about clothing. All 3 days I wore outfits that I’ve worn previously. I didn’t need to check in the mirror to make sure they fit properly; I already knew they did. So I had extra time because I didn’t stand in front of the mirror criticizing everything I consider to be a flaw. And you know what? I didn’t die because I couldn’t see how big my hips were. It didn’t kill me that I couldn’t see if my pants made my butt look big. The world kept turning and I survived. Keeping with the time theme, I had more time in my morning because I couldn’t obsess about my hair or make-up or making sure everything was absolutely perfect. What others think of my appearance is incredibly important to me. I guess I knew that already, but this experiment brought out just how important it is. But I learned something I didn’t expect to learn. It is possible to re-train yourself where bad habits and negative thoughts are concerned. It’s not easy and it doesn’t happen overnight, but it’s possible. It’s a very conscious choice. Every time I walked by a glass that I usually look in, I had to tell myself to not look. And every time I accidentally looked, I had to tell myself, “It’s okay. Try not to do it next time.” Essentially, I needed strength, endurance and grace. Strength to not look; endurance to keep going; and grace to move on after a mistake. Usually I’m pretty hard on myself. At the first mistake I give up, call myself worthless and a failure, and tell myself that I’ll never get it right. I can’t believe that I didn’t do that the first morning when I looked at my reflection in the microwave. But I didn’t and I was still about to follow through with the full 3 days. So maybe I can get rid of some of the negative body image thoughts. I just need to use the same strength, endurance and grace as I used here.

    So all in all, it was a good experiment. I’m even glad I did it. Wow! Never thought I’d say that! 🙂

  2. scarovese said,

    I can’t even begin to comprehend how difficult it would be to tie a tie without looking in the mirror. I’m almost positive that I couldn’t do it. Also, brushing my teeth would be weird. Would it b cheating to do the experiment over the weekend when no one sees me?

    @freeinhim: I admire your dedication in sticking out the experiment. Congrats!

    @kellyfdennis: I think you should take spinach every day; why take the easy way out? Hahaha, nice reflection… interested to see what tomorrow (really later today) holds.


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stefdennis

ponderings on life, food, God, and love

Grace on the Moon

Do Not Weigh Your Self-Esteem on a Scale

on anything and everything

my thoughts on what I see

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