06 Jul 2011 No Comments
A British survey found that women look in the mirror and average of 34 times a day. Men look in the mirror an average of 27 times. That’s a whole lot of mirror checks. You may not think you look in the mirror a lot but, if you’re honest with yourself, you probably do.
There are 6 mirrors in my house. One in every bathroom (3), one above the mantle in the living room, and a full length one in my room and my sister’s. That means that every time I go to the bathroom, I see myself in the mirror. That means that when I’m in my room, I can look in the mirror. That means that when I go in to my sister’s room to find a ponytail holder, I see myself in the mirror. That means that whenever I stand on the coffee table in the living room, I see myself in the mirror.
You may not have that many mirrors in your house. Or maybe you have more. But it’s not just in mirrors that we check out our reflections. How many windows do you have in your house? How many other reflective surfaces? You can’t go out in public without having your reflection shine back at you from store windows, glass surfaces, car windows. I think most people automatically turn to look at themselves when they pass these surfaces.
Why do we feel this need to look at ourselves so often? Even if we’ve just been in the bathroom and seen our reflection, we’ll still check what we look like when we pass a store window. What could have possibly changed about your appearance in just a few minutes? What are we so afraid of?
Our society is so visual. We are obsessed with looks. We have unreachable standards of perfection. These are not earth-shattering things that I’m sharing. Everyone knows it. And everyone suffers because of it. The media exploits women’s (and men’s) bodies and views them as objects that they can judge however they want.
All my life, and the past year in particular, I have struggled with low self esteem. I have always felt like I was too fat, my hair was too frizzy, and my face was just all wrong for me to be considered pretty. And I know that I am certainly not the only girl who struggles with this. How are we supposed to stop focusing on our looks when that seems to be the only thing our society focuses on?
In Haiti, there were very few mirrors. At the mission, there were some mirrors in the bathroom (but we certainly weren’t spending hours checking out our looks). But if you weren’t in the bathroom, you had no way to see yourself. There were no reflective surfaces. The buildings aren’t made of glass or anything else that would show your reflection as you walk by. My group spent a couple days in a small village called Beau Champ. There were no mirrors anywhere. I went two full days without seeing myself. I don’t know if I’ve ever done that before. And most likely, you probably haven’t either. It was actually an amazing experience to just not know what I looked like. I didn’t have to worry about my hair or clothes; we all looked pretty disheveled anyway.
I had a lot of Haitian women (and teen boys which was rather awkward) tell me how beautiful I am. We were at English class and at the end a woman walked up to me and told me how beautiful I was. Another time I was in the bathroom at the mission, braiding my hair, and a girl name Eveline who works at the mission told me that I was so beautiful. They thought I was beautiful without makeup, dressed in dirty clothes, with crazy frizzy hair. Maybe people in Haiti are just nicer. Or maybe they have a healthier view of beauty.
We are so messed up with our perception of food. So many people have addictions and self medicate with food. Some have a void they desperately want to fill and so they try to do that with food. Others are scared of food and pride themselves when they don’t eat. I think most people in this society are trying to eat less and lose weight.
In Haiti, there are starving children everywhere. You don’t stop eating to lose weight. You eat what you can because that’s how you survive.
The mission has a nutrition center where kids come and get food. Most of them are severely malnourished. All the kids there run up to you and want you to pick them up. One girl that I picked up was so skinny…her arms were like tiny toothpicks and her stomach was hard and bloated. I was scared I would break her.
Being in Haiti gives you a whole new perspective on food and body image. Since I’ve gotten back I’ve had a much more positive self image and have had a better attitude about food. I’ve still looked in the mirror, I’ve still judged my body. But I also have a sense of peace about it. I know there are much more important things. I know that God has made me this way. And most of all, I know that every time I have food I should be incredibly thankful. Every time I look in the mirror, I should praise God because I have a healthy, well-fed body.
“Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle gracious kind that God delights in” -1 Peter 3:4
Me and Eveline: