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Mirror Mirror on the Wall, What are my True Values After All?

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Do you find yourself consistently picking fights with the mirror about your appearance? Maybe you’ve walked past and heard yourself utter these familiar phrases:


  • “I feel good about myself until I pass by a mirror.”
  • “I avoid mirrors at all costs. I don’t want to see my reflection.”
  • “I can’t stop looking in the mirror, a find myself at my full-length mirror berating my body the entire day!”
  • “What I see in the mirror is disgusting!”


Interesting enough, it’s a complete 180 from how young children or babies view themselves. Recently, I saw a video circulating the internet featuring a young baby. The caption read, “I am a quarantine baby, and I just met my first friend.” The video showed a baby walking against a mirror, looking at herself and laughing with overflowing glee. It was adorable and so much fun to watch. The video was a stark contrast to the frequent conversations I hear around mirrors from adult women.


What Is Your Relationship with Your Mirror?

Why do we hate or love looking in the mirror? What has the mirror become an evil prompt in our lives? Why are we so obsessed with our self-image in the mirror as a society?


“As adults, there is so much stigma around it. I am sure people are torn between not wanting to be vain and not wanting to be disgusted.” Rebecca Shapiro from Project Proactive explains. “We don’t know what a healthy self-perception is.” As adults, we might not look in the mirror because we don’t know what we are looking for in the mirror. Are we looking for our true selves? Do we have a good sense of our self-perception?


A Babies Perspective of the Mirror

Alternatively, why do babies have such a love and fond relationship with the mirror? Perhaps, it’s not the mirror, but the reflection of themselves they are fond of.


I casually chatted with my friend and colleague Yaffi Lvova, Pediatric Registered Dietitian, about this concept because I hear about “THE MIRROR” in every single one of my sessions, and it’s completely different from a baby’s perspective.


“Babies are super intuitive, so I wonder if that’s the link. Like maybe as we lose our nutrition, we lose the joy that comes with our reflection… like our very intuition is the stimulus for joy, and once that’s gone, we are no longer happy with our appearance.” Yaffi explained.


“When babies look in the mirror, they are so excited because they see their own reflection.” Shevi Samet explains. “They are focusing on their face, their smile. When we look in the mirror, we are looking at our bodies. When we look at our bodies, we wince. When we look at our face – we don’t have the same feeling.”





Adults Are Trained to Look for Flaws

“When kids look in the mirror, there is a mixture of pride and curiosity. They are fascinated by their face, hair and body.” Rachel Tuchman, LMHC, explains. “Somewhere along the way, we are trained to look for flaws rather than the features we admire.


We start thinking that we are broken or damaged. We’re sure we know how we became this way; ‘I overeat, I don’t exercise, I’m too stressed.’ I wonder if we could learn to go back to curiosity, and instead of being critical, start being appreciative.”


“We relate to things – as a projection of our own life. A mirror is present to act as validation – do I look okay? The mirror has somehow shifted from “do I look okay” to “am I okay?” Temimah Zucker – an expert in the field of eating disorders, explains. “Can I believe I am okay without what I see in the mirror? Can we take apart the current definition of a mirror?”


Parallels between Self-Appearance and the Holiday of Purim

This topic and concept are incredibly appropriate as we approach the Holiday of Purim. A shiur I heard by Rav Gav about Purim put things into perspective. He explained that the more a person is involved in their external appearance (their body, their house, their possessions), the more insecure he feels about what’s going on for him internally. Obviously, this can be on a subconscious level, but this was very eye-opening to me.


How jealous am I when I see a perfectly dressed woman or a perfectly decorated home? How much do I wish I had the skill set or the money to “perfect” myself? But the more complex question to answer is – does that matter to me at all? Am I projecting my insecurities outward when I look at someone else?


On Purim, we wear a mask, we cover our externals, but we do this to tap into our inner world. Some say that on Purim, we drink alcohol to uncover the deepest part of ourselves. I’d even venture to say that many people have a spiritual awakening from drinking on Purim. You become aware of yourself on a new level, and you must ask yourself if this is the authentic version of yourself you want to be.


Purim also represents Hashem’s hidden face being revealed. My husband reminds me of this thought every Purim, and I love it. He says that Purim happened over the course of 9 years. When we read the events unfolding over the hour that we hear the Megillah, it seems so miraculous how everything “fell” into place. But if we would write in our diary all the events of our lives over the course of 9 years, we would see yad Hashem. It would also seem miraculous.


The concept of something being enveloped in a physical item to protect what is inside is part of our Jewish value system. We believe that our externals are essential, but they are also a means to an end, not an end in itself.


Putting Self-Appearance in Perspective

If you are struggling with who you are as a person, it will make sense that you’re feeling a bit uncomfortable every time you look in the mirror and see your external body. If your whole life, you have been told to believe that you are only loveable if you are thin, attractive and if you wear expensive clothes, it’s hard to look in the mirror if you don’t have those things and not feel like you are lacking.


If you can decide what your values are and what is important to you in your life, you can shield yourself with a wall of proper security. You can tap into the deepest part of yourself and live life from your values and not from your vanity.


If you are at war with your mirror, maybe you are looking in the wrong one.


Keywords: Appearance, Self-Appearance, true selves, values, flaws, Purim


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-Gila Glassberg, MS, RDN, CDN, Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor

If you are ready to make peace with food and never say diet again, check out my website and apply for a free 20 minute clarity call. I look forward to hearing from you!

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Gila Glassberg, Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, holding an inclusive variety of foods

Gila Glassberg is a Master's level registered dietitian and a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor. As a teenager, she was faced with constant diet talk, body shaming and obsessive guilt around food. She struggled with disordered eating. This is what propelled her into the field of nutrition. She uses a non-diet, weight-neutral approach called Intuitive Eating. She helps growth oriented women break out of chronic dieting, and regain clarity into what is really important to them.

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