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?


  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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