I spent several weeks staying in someone else’s home recently. A supremely generous neighbour let us stay while our plumbing is seen to, and we decamped with just the dog, some bedding and our toiletries. Being away from my own home always brings with it a sense of heightened anxiety, as it does for many of us. Stripes Lingerie We like to feel as though we belong. We want to shut the door to the world at the end of the day and feel safe and familiar. I braced for the unease, and factored it in. When it never came, I was surprised. I felt instantly comfortable, relaxed and not at all discombobulated by an alien domestic landscape.
There were several reasons for this, I suspect. One being that this generous neighbour was supremely relaxed about house rules. But as I relaxed into treating the place as my own, I realised that there was something missing from my new abode. There were next to no mirrors. In fact, there was precisely one mirror, a beautiful old piece of glass propped up against a wall, there to make sure your clothes were on the right way, and to better reflect a lovely room. But nothing reflected my face or body back at me clearly. I spent the first week we stayed there wearing a sparse and rotating wardrobe of tracksuit bottoms and jumpers. I didn’t brush my hair much or stare at brightly lit magnifying mirrors to put make-up on. I didn’t walk past the hallway looking glass and check my appearance before I went out, and I didn’t catch my own naked body when I hopped out of the shower and actively search for things to critique.
It was interesting to me how quickly I got out of the habit of such critiquing. Of squinting at my pores or angling myself when I got dressed. I don’t think I have an obscene amount of mirrors in my own home. Taupe Lingerie But I’ve certainly got used to checking my reflection unthinkingly several times a day, and being aware of my own physicality – a low-level subconscious hum. My body, my face there, there, here.
Everyone knows the story of Narcissus, who was entranced by his own reflection while gazing down into a pool of water. Most versions of the myth end with him committing suicide after he realises such a love could never be requited. Part of me almost respects such immense self-appreciation. It’s understandable to assume that those who seek out their reflection, be it in a mirror, a shop window or on their phone, are egotistical and vain. But mostly we stare at ourselves not to admire but to scrutinise and dissect. White Lingerie Eighteen long months of Zoom meetings have prompted discomfort in some people. Seeing your own face for hours on end is not the natural way of things, and it’s left many feeling exponentially worse about their appearance. Reports of a rise in cosmetic procedures as a result are jarring but not surprising. A reflection is not a true picture of what we look like, and yet we are willing to alter our faces based on a distorted perception of ourselves – all so that we can get through a meeting without feeling worse about our crow’s feet, our jawlines, our worry lines.