Friday, September 2, 2011

Not the Onion: Wedding inspires a lack of vanity

There are some people who cannot resist their own reflection - I once had dinner with a guy who was so busy looking at his reflection in a window that he faced the window to watch himself speak. Weird, right? Kjerstin Gruys is the opposite of that guy; she has vowed to avoid her own reflection until after her upcoming wedding.

Behold: Last March, the 28-year-old PhD student embarked on a year-long project, banning herself from gazing at her own reflection — no mirrors, no reflective surface at all.

Gruys started the project, which she chronicles on her blog Mirror Mirror … OFF The Wall, after an exhausting March day spent shopping for her wedding dress. “All these insecurities about my body came out after staring at myself all day.”

She later posted on her blog, "At some point my dress search stopped being fun. I hated feeling vain, insecure and indecisive. Never one for subtleties, I rejected these obsessions by rejecting my reflection."

It isn’t an issue that women use mirrors, Gruys says. "It’s that they stare at themselves — even though there is often no new information. So it represents a loss of time and energy. They use mirrors as a tool to turn their bodies into a project, something to improve and work on."

Over the past six months Gruys has not cracked although her resolve has been tested, mostly when she was feeling lonely. On those occasions she gets metaphysical. Mirrors have helped her through periods when she’s questioned her value and even her existence. “When I have those ‘Who am I?’ moments, I feel the urge to look at myself.” She had also had been looking to mirrors for affirmation. “I felt my mirror was my companion.”

The project is about trust, says Gruys — and not just trusting that someone will tell her if there is spinach or a poppyseed stuck in her teeth. She has had to learn to trust compliments. “Before when someone said I looked great I wondered if they meant it.” She admits she often ran to a mirror to make up her own mind about whether the compliment was justified.

As she prepares for the final fitting of her wedding dress in early September, Gruys has assembled a coterie of friends, she says, who she trusts will tell her if the dress is all it should be. So if her friends say yes to the dress — that will have to do.

What do you think? I respect her mission - it's true that women spend an exhausting amount of time criticizing appearances. It's not useful or productive. Weddings especially have so much vanity tied in with them; maybe she'll enjoy the day more if she's not obsessed with looking and being "perfect".


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