Mirror, Mirror

I am one of those people who always stop to observe my own reflection when I pass by a mirror or shiny structure.

Far from a narcissistic gaze, it is not vanity that prompts my attention. Unable to escape my own biases, fearful that what I am seeing is not the reality, I check my reflection hoping to reconcile my self image with the true one. It is a futile effort, to be sure.

I only wish that I could physically step outside myself to understand exactly what others see when they look at me. Am I portraying the image I want to convey? Do I come across competent, confident, and open? If I could step outside the bonds of my own being and look at myself as an impartial observer, would I like what I see?

There are so many questions, so few answers.

Every once in a while, I hear an opinion that calls into serious question the validity of my self perceptions. Recently, for example, I learned that someone close to me said that I "get by on" my looks. I couldn't help but be taken aback by the characterization. My initial reaction was twofold. First came denial--if true, my average existence would be far more meager because I am not a looker. Then came disappointment--does my friend think so little of my accomplishments?

In an effort to ward off the sting of such a comment, I began rationalizing the perception (ergo the need to step outside myself). Maybe he doesn't really believe it. The truth is that I am not as smart or as well educated as my friend, but I am financially better off. Is this his way of explaining away my successes? Or perhaps he looks at my relationships with somewhat successful men and makes assumptions he ought not be making.

I'm dumfounded by the comment, really.

I could simply dismiss the comment with an all too common, "who cares what people think." But in this case, I do care. I long for a impartial, unbiased assessment of self. I want to know what he sees that I am not. What am I doing to give him the impression that I flaunt feminine charms to make my way through this world? What doesn't he think I bring to the table on my own right?


Siryn said...


DM, you are beautiful! And beautiful people tend to get some things easier than ugly people - look at all those fat suit experiments that show society's true colors, or the recent "Ugly Betty"-fying of beautiful people and finding out that people are rude, uncivil, discourteous and unhelpful to ugly people.

I can't step into your friend's mind, but he must think that you have what you have based on luck and looks. That's pretty sad - what kind of a friend is that? It would be one thing if you actually did exploit your looks intentionally, but this is something totally other than that and that's disturbing.

kenju said...

From the photos I've seen, you are a very pretty woman. Some people are so jealous that they refuse to believe that you could be "getting by" on your intelligence too.

What Siryn said is true; pretty/handsome people DO tend to get more than regular-looking people, and it is easier for them. Don't take it too seriously, as it could be motivated by jealousy.

Sandra Dee said...

Oh goodness. I can't pass a mirror without looking either. I guess I'm always paranoid that I'll have like toilet paper stuck to me and I won't know it or something! :)