Embrace the flaws in your reflection instead of avoiding them

March 07, 2017

Eleanor Sturt

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     Avoiding my own reflection on a daily basis is nearly impossible.

     I look in the mirror multiple times a day, whether it’s in bathroom mirrors, my reflection in window panes or the screen of my phone.

     The Feb. 13 edition of the Commode Chronicles had an advertisement from the Wellness Center to promote UCCS Body Positive Week, where students a re encouraged to avoid looking at their reflections.

     If students did happen to catch their reflection, they had to find three nice things to say about themselves.

     I reached out to Katie Gordon, wellness promotion coordinator at the Gallogly Recreation and Wellness Center, to ask more about the project.

     Gordon explained that the exercise was to “challenge people to flood their mind with positive reflections, rather than negative.”

     According to Gordon, the exercise took place during National Eating Disorder awareness week. The exercise’s purpose was to discourage body checking, which includes obsessive negative thoughts about personal body image or obsessive mirror checking, according to the National Eating Disorders Association.

     But avoiding your reflection altogether means that you are avoiding complimenting yourself, which seems to be the point of this exercise.

     Instead, I encourage students to look in mirrors.

     Avoidance causes a negative attitude toward looking at your reflection. Checking your refection is just fine, but just be aware how frequently you check. Understand how you look and what can distort that image.

     I consider myself a rather un-photogenic person, as do many people. A story by Kim Ayres, a professional photographer based in Scotland, was featured in the Observer.

     Ayres reasoned that people find themselves unattractive in photos because they are seeing a reverse image of themselves.

     When we see ourselves in a reflection, we see our image flipped, and everyone sees our face the other way around. That may be a reason why some people find selfies more appealing, because front facing cameras tend not to flip the image.

     But this is just one example of ways our body image can be distorted.

     Lighting can also play a factor. Women who are experts in makeup know that when you do your makeup under artificial light, it often looks plastic and fake in natural light.

     It’s the same makeup and same face, just different lighting, but it makes all the difference. Don’t be shocked if your makeup looks odd in sunlight.

     This all comes down to one thing: body positivity is hard, because our bodies can look different on a day-to-day basis. Plus, we have societal expectations pressing on us.

     I know it’s hard to not let it get to you.

     I have found that rather than avoiding my own reflection, I am learning to embrace what I consider negative attributes.

     I do not like my nose, and that’s OK. I don’t have to. But, I try to remind myself that my nose is almost identical to my father’s.

     I am proud to be his daughter. I am proud to have his genetics, whether I feel they are beautiful or not.

     I encourage you to enjoy looking in the mirror. Divulge in these moments and relish your own features. They are special to you and your genetics. Be proud of that.

     Maybe this technique doesn’t work for you. That’s also OK. There is no right answer.

     Body positivity is an individual fight. No other human can make you love your body, and it is even OK if you don’t.

     You do not have to love your body. Just accepting it is fine.