For one of my classes, I didn’t look at my reflection for a week, here is the resulting reflection I wrote
I expected that being disconnected from my own image would cause me to be more self- conscious about what I looked like. I found it to be very anxiety inducing, but not in the way I expected. I was fairly confident that I knew enough about my own hair and self that I could do minimal primping to keep myself from looking ridiculous without a mirror. I found myself fairly unconcerned with that.
The fear I felt was different. Avoiding my own gaze, but sensing it causes a strange sort of fear in me. The same fear I feel when looking out a window and not being able to see out of it. Or a door that opens only to blackness. (Or similar at least.) The fear there is something sinister beyond the portal I could not see. I didn’t realize my subconscious saw mirrors as windows. If I managed to avoid my reflection enough that I couldn’t see any part of the mirror then I imagined myself with bloated monster eyes and great gnashing teeth (not unlike an anglerfish splice with my image, actually, for whatever reason). The first night I found myself suddenly very afraid of the mirrors. Very afraid of the monster I by definition wasn’t able to look at.
There was such a relief every time I found my face. I was kinder to myself too, only able to view myself for a moment meant I hardly had time to criticize. I just felt relieved, and pretty.
I discovered that I couldn’t comfortably cross dress without a mirror. That the ritual of changing myself to another form of self-expression necessitated a mirror to confirm my lack of chest, to allow me to recontextualize my own face in terms of its masculineness. Though very little actually changes, the frame of mind of seeing myself differently requires seeing myself differently. (I felt so very anxious that I couldn’t figure out a masculine hairstyle without looking too I just immediately gave up once the binder was on). I attempted to at least make this excursion as brief as possible, but it felt necessary to me for some reason. Some part of me couldn’t surmount an entirely self-induced pressure. Some part of me felt like I needed to know my face to know myself. Especially to change myself.
I feel like I could live in a world without mirrors, I would simply trust that I looked fine if not for occasionally seeing otherwise or being told otherwise. I don’t worry about my looks throughout the day.
Mirrors hold that fascination of self-understanding. Of being able to see a shadow of one’s own features and expressions. To be able to mold how I and others see me to an extent. A power over perception, if illusory. I method of self-examination and control. I’ve used mirrors in my life to examine my skin, my illness, my tears, my eyes, the changes in the size of my hips as I aged, the blood dripping from my nose from illness. My face has become familiar and part of my self-concept.