Mirror Perfection Revisited

By Anna Phillips

You stand in front of its rippling reflective surface. Its gleam from the room’s light bounces off its frame. Does this belong in a funhouse or something? At the very least, there must be a blemish in its surface. Something can’t be right. The reflection of yourself stares back, sometimes passive, yet other times edging on disgusted. Some days are better than others. Sometimes you even like what you see. And there are parts of you that you do always like. It is just those other parts, those parts that you do not like, that you cannot change, that seem to haunt you.

I will admit that I am not always happy with what I see in the mirror, and often those things I do not like are things that no one else notices but me. I blow them out of proportion. In this, I know I am not alone. And in truth, we create extremely unhealthy habits. Mentally, we destroy the reality and the beauty others see. Some of us are naturally a size two and do not do a thing to get there. Others are a size sixteen and no matter how much work they put in, it does not ever change. So much of who we are depends on genetics.

Jill Zimmerman Rutledge, LCSW, a psychotherapist who has worked with people regarding body image and related issues such as eating disorders and anxiety for over thirty years, advises on how to keep our heads up when it comes to our bodies. She has written two books: Dealing With The Stuff That Makes Life Tough: The 10 Things That Stress Girls Out and How To Cope With Them, and Picture Perfect: What You Need To Feel Better About Your Body.

Zimmerman Rutledge said that it is important to talk about body image because “girls and young women are often targeted by influential media, such as advertising and entertainment media—and may feel unattractive when they compare themselves to images of (often photo-shopped) perfection.

So, how do we know what is triggering our negative mentalities? Well, triggers exist all around us, and often we do not realize how they affect us, or that they are affecting us in any capacity. Triggers often come in the form of magazines, movies, and music videos.

These images are almost always touched up by a computer, so even if a model has acne, or some extra weight, or other “less than perfect” physical attributes, the photos look like she has gorgeous, clear skin and six-pack abs. When a girl compares her body with that of a model and is triggered to feel bad about herself, she is probably comparing herself to an unrealistic computer-generated image.

Those glossy-skinned, perfectly bronzed creatures with zero cellulite and killer curves that grace the covers do not really exist.

Lately, the media has moved toward demolishing techniques that create perfection, but it still hasn’t erased it. Even with today’s protests most, companies and magazines choose to ignore what their audiences want.

We cannot stop what others do, and to an extent, we cannot stop everything we take in, but we can choose how we view ourselves. Take pride in who you are! Love that dimple in your left cheek or the collection of freckles by your right ankle. Who cares what that magazine says you should wear with that body type. Wear what you feel comfortable in. And when you feel down, pick yourself up.

Here’s what Zimmerman Rutledge advises in her book Picture Perfect: What You Need to Feel Better about Your Body:

  • Think of something you like about yourself.
  • Stop comparing yourself to others.
  • Think about the things a strong, healthy body can do, such as sports, dancing—even moving furniture. Then try to develop healthy habits to support a strong, healthy body.
  • Think of a Special Statement, or positive affirmation, that supports a positive body image. Then say it to yourself at least twice a day. Some examples of Special Statements include: Size is Just a Number, I’m Strong, not Fat, I’m a Creative Chick, Not a Carbon Copy.

As Zimmerman Rutledge said, “we can picture ourselves, flaws and all, as…perfect.” The reflection in the mirror should not define us or limit us.

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Categories: Your Lifestyle

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