Kierstin Gruys is a 29 year old PhD student of sociology from San Francisco, CA who decided to go without looking at herself in a mirror for one year, beginning in March of 2010. It was the same year she was planning her wedding. She chose to focus on the real meaning of her wedding, which was marrying the love of her life, rather than place too much emphasis on her appearance. The article in the NY Daily News, tells of her struggle with anorexia during high school, which made her very aware of how much time she spent thinking about how she looked, not only to herself, but in the eyes of others around her.
She placed curtains over all reflective surfaces such as windows and mirrors. She learned how to put on her makeup and insert her contact lenses, without the use of a mirror. It was challenging to shop for clothes because even though she would use a dressing room to try them on, she would turn her back to the mirrors, and take the item of clothing home to see what her friends thought about how it looked. If they felt good, she purchased them. This was also true of her wedding gown. I can’t imagine not being able to see how I looked in my wedding dress. She obviously has great self control.
I’m sure she learned how to adjust after a month or so, but it must have been a challenge. Even looking in the rear view mirror of her vehicle, posed a problem, because you quite often get a glimpse of yourself while doing so. While walking down the street she was careful to avoid looking in the store windows, to avoid seeing her reflection in the glass.
The article stated that she went to therapy for years to overcome her eating disorder, and began volunteering for About-Face, a San Francisco-based organization that seeks to help women and girls free themselves of body-image problems. From what we learned in class, it’s sometimes a lifelong struggle. I hope her year without seeing herself, strengthened her resolve to not allow what she thinks about her appearance, affect her health.
I’m not so sure I would have been able to go an entire year without at least seeing how my newest outfit looked on me, or my new haircut turned out.
In March of 2012 her experiment ended when she finally looked at her own reflection, with friends and family in attendance.
“I had a little ambivalence, and at the same time, pleasure, because I was happy with what I saw,” she said.
Her message is a good one. Whether male or female, we have so much more to offer the world than our looks. We should focus more on who we are and how we feel.