lady from shanghai, rita hayworth, mirror management, mirror, body image, self image

Mirror management

Do you look at your entire self in the mirror? I don’t mean when you are standing in front of the full-length mirror, one hip cocked, tummy held in, shoulders back, trying to establish whether or not an outfit works. Do you glance at yourself whenever the opportunity arises (shop windows, lifts, hall mirrors) or do you glance at parts of yourself? How is my hair? Does my belly look fat? Does this length skirt do anything for my legs? Are my ankles thickening? Do I have a bra bulge?

And, to zone in, do you even look at your entire face in one go? Or is it more like: How are my eyebrows? Is that spot shrinking, scabbing or growing? Does my nose look red? Is this bronzer orange? Have I got a tide line? Hell, have I got a jawline? Shall I do another coat of mascara?

We curate our vision of ourselves. We decide which are the bad bits and which are the less bad bits and maybe there’s even a best bit. And that, we resolve, is that. Maybe this is why those terrible moments when you catch sight of yourself in a thoughtlessly placed mirror, sitting on the loo, are so shocking. Or when a changing room has mirrors fucking everywhere (on what planet does this encourage anyone to buy anything?) and you are confronted with your entire back/side view without asking for it? It’s like a punishment. Honestly. Someone tell them.

We control our self-image in order to survive. If we had to look at everything at once all the time it would be too much to process. We’d start trying to redecorate every piece of ourselves until there was nothing left. So it’s the micro (eyebrows, ankles) or the macro (outfit, heavily edited selfies) and nothing in between. Please God nothing in between.

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