A few weeks ago I moved into my new and much larger fitness studio.
My husband and I spent a very full and exhausting day moving my equipment over as well as purchasing some new pieces. By the end of the day everything was moved in except for one thing; the mirrors. Don’t worry, they didn’t break, they just had an alternative route to my parents storage space.
Mirrors and I have had a complicated relationship throughout the majority of my life and seeing that I didn’t need them anymore to give the illusion of a bigger space in my new, much larder studio, I thought it was best to terminate their existence in my second home.
Why? Because for many of us, myself included, whether we realize it or not mirrors are another way we give away our power.
With a growing number of health coaches and wellness gurus urging people with body image issues and body dismorphia to stand (sometimes naked) in front of a mirror and say something positive about their body, I find it incredibly necessary to say how harmful and destructive this misinformed advice can be.
When we do the old “look at yourself in the mirror and say something positive about what you see” we are still missing the point. We are still empowering that which is outside of us rather than that which is inside of us.
When we bestow power and importance on things outside of ourselves be it our body, our possessions our achievements or our relationships, we are essentially building our self-esteem and self worth “house” on an unstable and temperamental foundation. This foundation is highly vulnerable to forces beyond our control, which in time, can lead to disappointment, shame and deep feelings of inadequacy.
‘Mirror Talk’ Will Not Fix Body Image
Looking at yourself in the mirror and telling yourself that you love your legs, your arms, your tummy, ect, will not fix or even improve your body image issues as it doesn’t even address the root of a persons negative body image in the first place.
In an excerpt from the book “Yoga for Body Image”, contributor, Melanie Klein, shares what I consider to be the best definition of body image and why reducing body image simply to the refection we see in the mirror is never the solution.
“Body image refers to an ideal image of one’s body, an image that is intellectual and subjective. This psychological image of one’s body is shaped from a lifetime of observations, experiences, and reactions from others such as family members, peers, and the media. Race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, sex, gender identity, size, age, class, and physical ability all play significant roles in the formation of one’s body image. And too often, the reflection we see in the mirror is a grossly distorted image of ourselves influenced by our experiences, interpretations, and expectations. As a result, much of our dissatisfaction (and disappointment) with our bodies and comprised self-esteem is a result of an image not rooted in reality but grounded in illusion.”
As you can see, the way we perceive our body is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon and even if you think you look nice in whatever outfit you are wearing, it doesn’t mean that your negative body image doesn’t exist.
As my clients have started sessions in my new space, I have been asked about the mirrors. Whether or not I’m going to have any and why I don’t have them. Most of my clients seem concerned that they won’t be able to tell if their form is correct and to that I say, “isn’t that what you’re paying me for?”