“My early job as a TV host created unwelcome scrutiny about my appearance. Now I’m entering a new relationship with my appearance, by turning off the mirrors,” Katie McMurray, KatieMac Publicity
Today I dispatched all mirrors from my life. Well, the ones I have control over at least. Until now, three enormous mirrors greeted me within a three metre stretch in my home. I’d wake up and stand up, hello me. I’d walk to my bedroom door, oh hello again Katie. Then to the bathroom or towards the kitchen. Oh, it’s you again, hi. Wherever I went, there I was.
Goodbye mirrors doesn’t mean goodbye me. Quite the opposite. I’m just entering a new relationship with my appearance.
Each morning the look into a mirror caused an unpleasant reaction. The gaze itself was innocent and the mirrors unavoidable. But I didn’t enjoy what happened next. My first-thing-in-the-morning face would receive a response from an internal voice. “Tired”. “Sad”. “Drawn”. “Pale”. “Splotchy”. Perhaps you know this commentary and can insert your own criticisms.
We know the internal voice is almost impossible to wrangle. I wouldn’t tolerate another relationship like it. Mirrors give mine a podium it doesn’t deserve.
My face is an expression of my conscious and unconscious, my thoughts and emotions. That’s very helpful when you and I are together, communicating. I also enjoy and appreciate using mirrors to dress up for special or fun occasions. But most of the mirror activity I was having was unintentional and created a feedback loop I can do without.
Faces matter because they are home to four of our five senses. You cannot look at my face without seeing eyes, nose, ears and mouth. Continuously, they receive life going on around me. My face can animate and react. Importantly, it helps me relate to others. And their faces. There is nothing I love more than seeing the face of a friend and I am sure they feel the same of me.
But when I look in a mirror I don’t gaze in awe of these exquisite sensory tools and wonder at the gifts of sound, taste, sight and scent. Instead I hear, Oh it’s you again. Still not measuring up.
To what, you ask?
My experience with mirrors is exacerbated by the world beyond my home. Aspects of our economy and society are heavily invested in facial appearances. Alluring faces broadcast on bus shelters, train escalators and my virtual spaces. Bizarre ideals of women’s faces are used to sell. A child-like woman tempts me with refreshments; a skinny pubescent pouts, wearing adult women’s clothes. A woman’s gold-sheened face is surrounded by bubbles in a champagne advertisement. Neck tilted, mouth open, she’s laughing sensually. It’s refreshing to see a sensible mother-type, assuring me of her vitamin choice. There’s a chance she’s a real woman and not a digitised fantasy. Or is that just my imagination.
Then I glance up. It’s a mirror. Me again. Yeah, hi.
As a child, I wasn’t tall enough to see into our tiny bathroom mirror. This was the era before reflecting wardrobe doors and use of mirrors as room-enlargers. I had a chance to ponder my appearance each night before bedtime. With the light on I could see a grainy reflection in the solar window material that kept the sun out by day. A child’s self-image is a mysterious and evolving relationship. I feel lucky. Walking to school in the seventies, I wasn’t stalked by fantasy women on bus ads and billboards.
My early job as a TV host created unwelcome scrutiny about my appearance. I was unskilled using makeup or hair equipment and criticised by the station manager for not doing these well. I didn’t have much of an idea how to improve. Nor did I care enough. My office was far from the dressing rooms, with their light bulb mirrors. I was happy next to my editing suite where I spent hours each week. It’s funny to recall adding ‘cutaways’ – footage of my own face – to TV stories. There I was, engrossed in the interview, asking a question or nodding in reply.
I still work with my image, by choice and with full control. At those times I am thoughtful about how my face looks. It helps me communicate the person I am, to you. In fact, people who meet me for the first time often say they are surprised I look just like my photos. That’s my intention.
The dispatching of mirrors at home has been gradual. I began by replacing one with a beloved Leunig image. Then I displayed a beautiful silk scarf from my late grandmother over another. Today the hallway mirror goes to an OpShop and I’ve covered the bathroom mirror with a beautiful fabric. I may remove that mirror permanently.
It feels peaceful now. My reflection isn’t waiting for me around every corner.
International Women's Day is Friday, 8th March. Would you like to write an original blog to publish that day? I am presenting a free webinar where you will draft your own International Women's Day blog. Find your voice and have a say. The free webinar is Monday, 25th February 7pm-8.30pmAEDT. For more information about the free webinarread this or to register click here.
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