I had the pleasure of staying with friends and family in England and the states in the past few months. One of the places I was staying in had a guest room for us, and in this room was a full-length wall mirror. It took me a while to notice that the mirror was slightly warped. It made me look a bit wider than I actually am, something I noticed as I walked by one day. I had spent the weeks prior to this discovery concerned that all of my clothes suddenly fit me wrong and that I had gained weight. This is the definition of a ‘fun house mirror’: a mirror that distorts the image.
Then at the next friend’s place, the same thing happened, and I noticed it quick enough to not let it have an effect on me. I also took a photo of what was happening: as you can see in the image, I look REALLY thin. Like, my face is thinner and longer than it should be.
Now, I LOVE a slimming mirror and already have a narrow-ish face, but this one stretched me when I stood in its center and then pinched at the edges, which gave an outward-bound reflection, and to add to it, it was leaning against the wall at something like 70 degrees, so when I stood in front of it, my lower half was bigger or wider than my upper half.
These are things that, had I not realized what was going on, might have really flipped me out and made it hard for me to choose outfits. It might have driven someone else to diet, or have image concerns, to worse.
When we are concerned about our body image or on a fitness regime, it’s important to know which mirrors to look at. I know it’s probably a normal thing to look at any mirror we walk past (right?), but we should pay attention to the mirror: is it warped? Does it bow in or out? Is anything distorted? Figuring this out the first time you look at a mirror will save you a LOT of grief down the line.
As soon as I knew what was going on with the pictured mirror, I stopped looking at it on my way to the fitness center, and only used it for outfit critiques. I would use the mirror in the bathroom, which was mounted to a wall and NOT warped, to look at the actual condition of my body and ‘track progress’ during the challenge.
This might seem like a silly or vain post, but when you have body image concerns or are trying to see or track progress, what we see in the mirror can make or break a good routine. So do yourself a favor and give the mirror a good, critical ‘walk-by’ to make sure it’s safe to use!
How to do this: make sure you have good, even lighting. Walk slowly past the mirror at least once, checking first your face and then move downwards, to see if you can spot anything that looks out of place while walking. Repeat this as many times as necessary until you are down to your ankles. You can also test by sitting or standing in front of it and slowly swaying from left to right and back to front. Watch for anything in the image to jump, stretch or bend, that is how you spot warps or variance. If you don’t see any of these, your mirror is fine!
After you’ve checked the mirror, all that’s left is to check your self-criticism. That’s usually a bigger issue than what the mirror is actually showing us!