Do you, like the queen in Snow White, wonder what others see when they gaze at your countenance? Who do you see in the mirror when you take an objective look? What should others understand about your looks?
Reflecting on your Reflection
Research has shown that we have a skewed view of ourselves as we look in the mirror. Our confidence and self-doubt filter the facts that stare back at us. Our experiences—our stories—changes our interpretation of who we see. For these reasons, this makes a great story and writing prompt. (See also Beautiful Reflections)
It’s a topic that we only touch on in passing—often more in response to seeing a photograph than intentional introspection. “Oh, I don’t like pictures of myself.”
The fact is, we unintentionally teach children how we feel about our bodies, rather than address it directly.
Who you see in the mirror is an important piece of who you are, a reflection worth sharing with the next generation. A cautionary or instructive tale for youth who are trying to decide how they feel about themselves.
Looking in the Mirror through the Eyes of Society
Unfortunately, society places value judgements on our looks. Opportunities open or barriers arise based on beauty, skin color, size, and gender. We’re sorted into cluck holds.
How your looks impact your life’s journey is a critical story to pass on.
Far from an individual story, society’s view of your familial features represents an important thread that weaves through your family’s narrative.
Try comparing and contrasting how family traits impacted successive generations. Did individuals (or you) work to compensate against stigmas? To understand privileges? Does this cause you to advocate for a cause or avoid situations? Do you raise your children differently as a result of their physical features?
An Opposing View: Who do YOU See in the Mirror?
We seldom address what we want others to understand about our physicality. Who do YOU see in the mirror versus what everyone else sees?
Do you take pride in your looks, accept them without much further thought, or regard them with regret?
Are the lines on your face evidence of worry, laughter or grief? Do you cringe internally when you see them, or do you take pride in how they were earned? Do you want others to understand the wisdom that comes with them? How do you view the evidence of your aging? Is it a sign of fragility or strength?
Similarly, you can describe whether your muscles are the result of vanity, good genes, or hard labor.
In addition, you can explain if the way you view yourself a product of your faith, experience, or upbringing.
Who You are in the Eyes of Family and Loved Ones
Who you see in the mirror is ultimately a family story. Reflections in context reveal much more about us than good lighting in a portrait studio can. Perhaps that’s why most of us prefer a group photo. What does your family’s view of you reveal that a mirror never can?
Your Inner Viewpoint
Perhaps most importantly, we seldom address who we are beneath our flesh, the person who we hope others see.
Who do you hope your descendants and loved ones see when they look at you? What do you want them to remember about your face?
Your Turn: Who Do You See in the Mirror?
Stand back and look objectively at the person staring back at you in the mirror? Brainstorm for a few minutes, then come back to it. Do you feel any different about it? As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please comment below.