I broke up with the scale awhile ago. I kept gaining weight as I gained muscle, and I knew that weighing myself was only going to make me upset at the number and not proud of my muscular gains. I knew it was no good for me, and I was tired of going back and getting the same reaction. So we broke up.
Most recently, I broke up with my mirror. Not my handheld mirror that I use for my eyebrows and my makeup, but my body-length mirror (keep in mind it’s a cheap, propped up mirror that probably has the same uneven quality of a fun house mirror). Each time I looked in it, I criticized myself. I hated my love handles. I hated the cellulite on my thighs. I hated the little thing of fat by my arm pit. It was an object of hate, and not of reflection. So we took a break.
I hid my mirror in my closet. I told myself that this was a fresh start — a new mindset. However, I kept noticing myself attempting to look in the mirror. It was habitual for me to turn around and check myself for new criticisms. When I couldn’t look in the mirror, I would look down and pinch and poke and try to find new imperfections. It was absurd.
After a week of realizing not much had changed, I brought the mirror back out for the weekend. I had to check out my outfit before I went out, after all. I took my ex back and pretended nothing had happened. I still hated myself, but did I have any other options?
I continued this behavior for a couple weeks, but I was losing my tolerance again. I kept asking myself, “WHY do you keep looking in the mirror? All you do is find things to hate.”
It was amazing to realize that such a vanity was so self-destructive.
In my fitness classes, it is common for people to perform a plank incorrectly by tucking their chin to their necks. I often cue to look straight down at their hands for there is no need to look at your belly button – “it’s still there, I promise!” I say these without even realizing that I wasn’t practicing this. My body is still going to be my body, regardless if I look in the mirror. Nothing will change if I keep staring in the mirror. Maybe my posture will change temporarily, but I can’t change me.
So I broke up with my mirror. I didn’t just hide it this time, but I threw it away. It didn’t matter how many times I looked in the mirror because I was still going to be me. My body doesn’t define me. I define me.
When others look at me, they don’t narrow their gaze to one singular flaw. They don’t even see a reflection of me. They see me as a whole. I’m not my love handles, nor my cellulite, nor my arm pit fat. I am me.
We can break up, but I can never escape mirrors. They’re in every bathroom, I teach fitness classes in front of them, and I take dance classes in front of them. I can never avoid them completely, but I vow to promise myself that I deserve better than a cheap reflection of myself.
I am not my body, and I am not my reflection. I am me.