Mirror, Mirror, On The Wall…


Today I was peddling away on the bike in my gym, trying not to look ahead into the sea of mirrors which blanket the entire wall in front of the exercise equipment.  From this vantage point, I couldn’t help but notice that the only ones working out in front of this massive mirrored wall were men.  Some watching their form as they lifted weights, others twisting and stretching, practicing a golf swing, or simply standing and gazing at their image.

As I looked around the room I realized there was a much higher percentage of women working out, but none were anywhere near a mirror. Now, it could have been coincidence, but it didn’t seem coincidental.  Ok, not exactly a scientific study, but no women were willingly facing the wall of mirrors except those, like me, that had no other option and we were all intently watching CNN, reading our books, leafing through magazines or listening to our IPOD’s looking anywhere but straight ahead.

So, I asked myself, are men in the 21st century becoming more vain (you know, the whole metrosexual thing), or are they simply unaffected by the idea that their image is anything but ok? Through the ages women have been labeled the vainer of the two sexes, but in reality the truth is something else.  Women are simply too hard on themselves. That’s an issue of self-esteem, not vanity.

Today, watching men admire themselves and their efforts in front of the mirror I thought, God love ‘em, men are blessed with enough self esteem to fill Dodger Stadium!  When they look in a mirror they see Rhett Butler, but when we look in the mirror we tend to see something else. So, is there anything to be learned from our male counterparts in this little gym parable?  I don’t know, maybe this, isn’t it nicer to gaze into a mirror and see someone you like looking back at you?  Here’s to waking up your Scarlet O’Hara!

Here are 2 books to consider if you’d like to read more on creating a positive body image and self-esteem:

Taming Your Gremlin: A Guide to Enjoying Yourself

The Body Image Workbook: An 8-Step Program for Learning to Like Your Looks

6 responses to “Mirror, Mirror, On The Wall…”

  1. Karen says:

    I don’t know – I’ve always thought men seemed more able to look at themselves without ‘objectifying themselves’ or sitting in ‘judgment’. I envy them – I think women are taught to see themsleves from the outside in, rather than insde out and feel like I’ve spent a lot of time trying to get back into my skin!

  2. heather says:

    I avoid mirrors, cameras, reflective doors, and anything else that shows me my reflection. I look in that reflection and do not see me. It is like I’m looking at a stranger buried beneath mounds of skin – mounds and mounds of skin.

    I used to laugh, dance, run, play, in the skin that I call my bodily home. Now I hide out in my home, wear large shirts and long skirts, dreading going ‘out’ so that everyone else can see my weight.

    Yes, I imagine self esteem comes into play a bit, but I don’t want to release my ‘Scarlet O’Hara’ – I want to find the 20 year old that felt FREE and ran out the door on a sunny day to explore the world and interact.

    You wouldn’t catch me dead in a gym.

    I’m just proud of all the women that are there and trying to overcome my own shame for where I’ve come.

  3. Cindy says:

    Karen, that’s a great way of stating it. I believe there are women out there that are able to do that too, and I’ve always admired them as well – just not too many I’m afraid. I think there’s a whole other discussion around who really objectifies who. Good luck trying to fit back into your own skin, I’m working on it too!

  4. Cindy says:

    Hi Heather…I empathize with what you’ve said and I’ve been there too. One thing I know about how I react to the way I look, is whether I’m plump, down right fat or just feeling bloated…how I ‘feel’ and how I think I ‘look’ dictates to some extent how I move through the world. It can be crippling and it takes many shapes – subtle and not so subtle. I would only say to you that you ARE still the girl who felt free, loved life and got out and met the day. You ARE NOT your weight. You can take only one step at a time to get to where you want to go and who you want to be. One step, first.

  5. Nikki says:

    It’s not the same as women. We’re critiquing and comparing thighs and hips and stomachs. They examine while thinking about how to improve their form, what their arms are going to look like once they do xyz.

    I’ve asked guys and they always talk in terms of visioning. When I look in the mirror, I see what’s wrong, not what could be right (positively not “oh I wish”).

  6. Cindy says:

    Great point, Nikki. I’ve done a few posts on visualization and intrinisc thinking. Both dea with a healthier perspective around body image and making lifestyle changes. All we can do is continue to work on this area of our lives. Thanks for your comments!

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