Are you aware of your mirror face? Chances are, you have one. I have yet to encounter a woman who doesn’t. It seems harmless enough though, right? Here’s the strange thing though…your mirror face may actually be holding you back more than you think. Your mirror face may be, dare I say, a liability.
I can be honest about it! I had (sometimes still have) a mirror face too. In fact, I have a whole HISTORY of bizarre mirror faces, starting from when I was pretty little.
In second grade, I decided that my face wasn’t okay. It was too round. Too fat. Too plain. It was a kid face. I didn’t dig it. So, I decided I would manipulate it. I thought I could make it longer by pursing my lips in a way that elongated my chin. Now, if you ever saw the movie, “Mask” with Cher and the deformed Eric Stoltz character, you would start to understand what it might look like when someone purses their lips in this bizarre way. I thought, however, that this made my face look longer and thinner. Naturally, people started to inquire just what the heck I was doing with my face. Why was I pursing my lips like that?
“What? My face just looks this way,” I would nonchalantly reply.
I would escape to the bathroom multiple times a day to admire my “Mask” face to the point where the teachers must have thought I had a bladder infection, and if by chance, I passed in front of the mirror and saw my regular face, I would quickly purse my lips and start the charade all over again. No wonder I had TMJ. I even broke a sink at my brother’s allergists office because I climbed on top of it, examining my mask, and the sink broke off the wall, water gushing everywhere. Sorry mom.
Point is, I thought my mirror face was a HUGE improvement over my own.
In fourth grade, I decided I wanted to look like the models in all the magazines. My favorite was the pose where a woman would cock her head overtly to one side, with a curtain of hair falling over her shoulder. So, even though I had extremely short hair, I started walking around as if my head was glued to my shoulder.
Again, people would ask, “Just what are you doing?”
Even my grandmother, Agnes, inquired and politely asked me to stop. She was worried that I would permanently damage my neck and the people at her retirement community were starting to whisper about her “special” granddaughter.
In recent history, my mirror face has become much more subtle, a frozen pose with sucked in cheeks and eye brows in a permanent state of surprise, my eyes held open as large as I can manage. My fiancee and I have been together over eight years now, and every time he sees it, he laughs.
“You know you don’t actually look like that, right?”
It used to really piss me right off. It felt like he was calling me out on a highly vulnerable behavior, a foolish woman trying to convince herself that she possessed more beauty than she actually did. I would feel a flash of anger and hurt.
It upset me, until I realized many years into the relationship, that in actuality, to him, that face was not what made me beautiful. It was ridiculous in comparison to what he saw, the face that wasn’t aware of itself, that I couldn’t manipulate, with regular-sized eyes, crooked bottom teeth, freckles and a lopsided dimple on my cheek, that sometimes contorts imperfectly with vulnerability, with passion and child like enthusiasm, rather than the stoic feminine beauty ideal I so desired.
I then realized, when I looked at myself in the mirror, I was unconsciously putting a mask on, just like I ALWAYS had. I saw myself, and some part of me said,
“Even to yourself, your not enough.”
That is when the eye brows would start to arch and the lips would start to purse and I would put on my mask. The problem was, it was bullshit, and it was incredibly limiting. I was basically deciding, from a VERY limited blind spot, what made me attractive to other people and this would bleed into how I was dressing, positioning and presenting myself every day.
As an actor, this became increasingly obvious with the head shots I would pick. These head shots serve as our visual calling card to casting directors and directors (the seeming gatekeepers to work and self-worth). Whenever it came time to pick the shot, I would discerningly choose one that looked the LEAST like me, but the MOST like my mirror face. The result…a really boringly attractive, frozen woman with emotionless eyes, pursed in cheeks and arched eyebrows. Then, I wondered why I would be called in for roles that I never booked. Mainly high-end call girls.
I never realized how insidious this mirror face was until I became a health coach and I could see my client’s masks. Similarly to me, they would decide which mask was beautiful too (oftentimes mistaken and ill-informed) and they would use it to gain validation, love and acceptance. Then, they wonder why they are attracting people who weren’t interested in what was beneath the mask, the “real them”. I could see so clearly when I looked at them what made them beautiful, and it had very little to do with what THEY thought made them beautiful.
Is this me saying make-up is bad? Hell no! I love make-up. Make-up is not the problem. It is the relationship with the self we deem unworthy of a glance in the mirror, who we deem unworthy of attention, or love. It is the relationship with the mask or with the make-up we use to create the mask we hide behind.
For me, it started with my kid face. I was SO wrong about what I thought was beautiful to others way back then. I can see that face and it’s a sweet kid face. But I have been JUST as wrong in the recent past as well, only wanting to let people see the me I deemed worthy, instead of accepting that my individual beauty just is…it doesn’t need to
be manipulated, and neither does yours.
To some people, my mirror face could be preferable to my own. But here’s the thing…I’m not so sure I’m interested in knowing that person anymore. I’m much more interested in being around people who are interested in the girl who was crazy enough to elongate her face at 8 years old, break a sink of a wall, or glue her head to her shoulder. That is where my true crazy/beauty lies.
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