little victories: I forgot to look in the mirror

After a shocking amount of the day had passed, I realized that I hadn’t looked in the mirror. Not once. I’d brushed my teeth and rubbed moisturizer into my cheeks and gotten dressed and gone out and I hadn’t glanced up at my reflection at all.

Without looking, I felt lovely.

I was wearing a flowing shirt with a thin, elegant belt over a long, soft, thin dress. I felt fashionable and sort of bold. Outside, I walked through a group of guys, and for a second, I thought that they were thinking that I was glamorous. It didn’t matter whether or not they were thinking that. It seemed reasonable for them to.

I felt like I fit in and stood out at the same time. I felt like the right balance of things.

It wasn’t so much that I was concentrating on how I looked. I wasn’t. I was busy. But I was assuming that I looked good. The assumption lay on the floor of my mind like a fine oriental rug. It made everything more graceful. It made everything more comfortable. It made everything a little nicer.


When I got home again, I almost didn’t want to look, but I had to. The mirror was like a magnet. I opened the door, closed it behind me, took off my coat without stopping and made a beeline for the mirror.


Oh god. My hair! What was it doing? Are you even being serious with me right now, hair? What the hell IS this? Some kind of sick joke? It seemed to be trying to part in the middle, with bangs making sloppy wings in either direction. Short hair doesn’t work with a part in the middle. There’s a law. It says no.


And that wasn’t the end of it. One side was lying flat, bland and bored, ┬áthe other was sticking up and out, reaching dramatically towards heaven. I ran my hands frantically through it, trying to erase the awfulness. Trying to pretend it had never happened and other people hadn’t seen me like this. My hair fought back.

And was the outfit actually a little dowdy, maybe? Could dowdy be a word that might be applied to it? Could a word that no one even uses anymore because it’s so painfully old and awkward be the word that best describes my outfit?

And my arms. Were they that chubby when I left this morning? Was it possible that they had grown? Maybe overnight, actually. They might have grown in my sleep.

I leaned towards the mirror, baffled, clawing at my hopeless, unfortunate hair.

And then I backed slowly away.


It was better before.

It was better when I didn’t look.

I was pretty and my hair was cool.

I want to go back there, to that place. With the oriental rug. That was nice. Didn’t everyone seem friendlier there?

So I’m going to make the moral of this story something other than: make sure you look in the mirror before you go out!

Instead, it’ll be: don’t bother to look when you get back.

Those guys totally thought I was glamorous. But more importantly, so did I. Which means that I am. No matter what my hair happens to be doing.


* * *

Do you ever go a day without looking in the mirror? How does it feel? EPIPHANIES, anyone? OK, that was weird.

Other posts from the Little Victories series: shlumpy phase, asking for a raise, bombshell

Unroast: Today I love the way I look in a thin belt.

I’m on The Frisky, talking about why I’ve never gotten waxed, and the time I was in Brooklyn Decker -the supermodel’s- apartment.


Kate on February 17th 2012 in beauty, Little Victories

28 Responses to “little victories: I forgot to look in the mirror”

  1. Melanie responded on 17 Feb 2012 at 4:51 pm #

    I could’ve written this, only far less eloquently. I have an issue with photos. The day my boyfriend took some for the blue jacket project I cried all day. That was not my belly in those pictures. Where did that huge chin come from? So I can relate.

    Since then I have made Rich bring his camera every time he comes over and take 10 pictures. Some of which have been nudes. I only hated a little more than half of them. Progress. I am working on not hating any pictures of myself. I’m going to get there dammit!

    I don’t have a hard time with the mirror so much. The mirror I can handle. The camera is my foe. I’m working to make him my friend.

  2. katilda responded on 17 Feb 2012 at 5:07 pm #

    sometimes i realize i haven’t looked in the mirror all day and feel concerned, because i usually look in the mirror when i go to the bathroom at work and it’s always disconcerting to realize it’s 4pm and i haven’t peed even once. in non-bodily-function related thoughts, i’m curious for your thoughts on adele’s photo on the cover of the march vogue. i blogged my negative reaction to it, but it’s also all over google if you look it up that way. seems like a topic up your alley!

  3. Kate responded on 17 Feb 2012 at 5:51 pm #

    Oh wow, just read your post. Yikes– that does appear to be very distorted. It’s not just Adele, of course. It’s everyone. I so often see photos of models who look like they’re missing half their ribs, and I wonder how that’s consider an appealing look. I hope Adele speaks out against this, but even more, I hope some famous women sign a contract with magazines like Vogue that ensures their images won’t be dramatically photoshopped. This can change. These women are beautiful anyway. Even more so. By a lot.

  4. Lili @ Relatable Style responded on 17 Feb 2012 at 6:32 pm #

  5. Kate responded on 17 Feb 2012 at 6:33 pm #

    NO WAY. That’s really funny!

  6. Anna responded on 17 Feb 2012 at 6:41 pm #

    I haven’t looked in one today, now that I think about it, because I got up, left, got home, and then was like ‘I’m suspiciously low on blogs about ladies who love cake today, I need to check one’. Huh. Cool :D

  7. San D responded on 17 Feb 2012 at 7:15 pm #

    I’m at the age now that when I see my reflection at ANY time, or even at NO time, I see my mother’s face and body looking back at me. Yikes. It’s particularly distressing when I am working out at the gym, and I can’t avoid any of the mirrored walls and wonder who that old lady is that is working on her inner thighs. LOL.

  8. Kate responded on 17 Feb 2012 at 7:32 pm #

    SCORE!!! :)

  9. Kate responded on 17 Feb 2012 at 7:41 pm #

    @San D
    The gym is always the worst. Once I could see the flesh on my face lifting and falling as I jogged. It was horrifying.
    Everyone says I look like my mom ALL THE TIME. So I think maybe I’m prepared to continue to look like her? Anyway, you’re adorable.

  10. Sooz responded on 17 Feb 2012 at 8:04 pm #

    OMG…This happens to me EVERY SINGLE DAY!!!!! I forget to look in the mirror and then I catch a glimpse of myself at some point and go “holy crap…I look like THAT?!”. My idea of what I look like and what I actually look like are worlds apart. Funny Funny Funny!!

  11. Jess K responded on 17 Feb 2012 at 10:08 pm #

    I kind of enjoy working at the girl scout summer camp nearby where the only mirrors are the small ones above the sinks in the bathroom and my “uniform” is jeans and boots (I work with the horses). I KNOW I stink and I’m dirty … and I don’t care. Amusingly enough, I dated one of the lifeguards last summer (1 of 4 guys in ALL of camp) and he thought it was great that I just worked, enjoyed, and didn’t care about how dirty I got or if I forgot to (or ignored) wear eyeliner.

    It probably didn’t hurt that really the only time we got to spend together during the week was in the early morning when I was at the pool doing laps before breakfast, so I wasn’t too stinky yet. lol

  12. bethany actually responded on 18 Feb 2012 at 2:31 am #

    I have two small children, and there are times when an entire day goes by without me looking in the mirror. About half the time that I leave the house, I realize after I’ve left that I have no idea what my hair looks like. It’s kind of liberating, really. And I’ve learned that you know, I really don’t care about 99% of the time what people think of me. As long as I’m not picking my nose in public or spanking my kids in the grocery store, I figure I’m probably good. :-)

  13. Melinda responded on 18 Feb 2012 at 6:27 am #

    I remember going to Mexico for a month with my best friend and her husband. We spent ten days on the west coast, camping (I miss that Mexico…). We swam and hiked and slept and read and ate fish that we’d bought from a boat and cooked over a fire on the beach. I felt like a mermaid. A strong, gorgeous, enchanting mermaid. The salt stuck to my skin and made my thick hair curly and heavy.

    I will never forget looking at the pictures after we got home (after waiting for them to be developed!) and being embarrassed – humiliated even. A mermaid? Fat, frizzy-haired, pink, ugly with no makeup…The self-loathing kicked into gear. That was many years ago now and I have come a long way. But reading this made me think about that time, and how that particular self-loathing still exists in me… Tempered by the years, but nevertheless, it is still in me. And where is that powerful mermaid? She disappeared (I banished her) completely after those photos were revealed. I want her back. So, today I am going to be a mermaid…in snow boots! Thank you, Kate!

  14. Sarah Rooftops responded on 18 Feb 2012 at 7:46 am #

    Every weekend…!

    Then again, on the days when I do look in the mirror and I spend time on my hair and my face and I think about my clothes I still get to work, look in the bathroom mirror and feel THE HORROR. I don’t know if the five minute walk to work destroys me or if it’s just a very unflattering mirror, but I do NOT look good in the office. It’s something I’ve had to accept!

  15. Elena responded on 18 Feb 2012 at 11:08 am #

    Some days I wake up, get dressed and go to work with no time to observe myself or my looks in the mirror. Usually those days I feel wonderful, just as you described, a gorgeous and stylish girl who has the ability to compile an awesome look in like 10 minutes…Then I often have a chance to take a look at myself when I get back home and the thought comes: “What was I thinking?”

    I find funny the comments about gym mirrors and photos. The mirrors in the gym I usually go to are extremely distorting in a way guys would like them I guess. When you stand far from them, you look skinny and tall, but when you stand close to them in order to make your exercises, all of a sudden you’re a muscled dwarf. Gender-blind gym I guess…

    On the other hand, I can say I’m completely the opposite when it comes to photos, at least since a year or so ago. I specially remember a photo a friend of mine took of me while playing darts in a pub, when I saw it I had the is-that-me? thought, but in a kind of positive way. I looked good, relaxed, merry… : )

  16. zoe (and the beatles) responded on 18 Feb 2012 at 11:49 am #

    aw kate, i’m sure you looked all kinds of beautiful. it’s hard to not look in the mirror. or any reflective surface, actually. back in my eating disorder days i stood in front of the mirror for like…hours. a day. i cried all the time and pinched and pulled and changed a million (for real) times. but when i moved, i no longer had a full length mirror. and i was dedicating myself to recovery. so i forced myself to dress in one outfit and simply leave the house. it finally dawned on me that people don’t care about what you look like. if you’re comfortable, everyone else will be comfortable too. people only pick up on the energy you put out, not the outfit you wear. (and, to be honest, i stopped giving a fuck about what people might think about my outfits. they’re for me, anyway, an expression of my self.)

  17. Another Kate responded on 18 Feb 2012 at 1:51 pm #

    Mirrors can totally be a curse. I think women everywhere would be happier if we weren’t so aware of what we look like. Back when I was way heavier than I am now, I hated looking in the mirror, and almost never did. I constantly felt horrible about myself, but there were days when I would feel like I looked amazing, only to be proven dreadfully wrong upon seeing a picture that someone had taken of me that day. But on the days I felt like I looked amazing, even though it turned out that I didn’t, people would compliment the crap out of me! Like Zoe said, people only pick up on the energy you put out. So even if you strongly resemble a clown, but exude an air of confidence, people won’t even notice the crazy hair. Or if they do notice, they might become intoxicated by your confidence and think it looks amazing. Hmmm… I suddenly have a theory about how the mullet came to be so popular.

  18. BrokeElizabeth responded on 18 Feb 2012 at 6:42 pm #

    Congratulations on your ‘little’ victory! I love it when I forget to look in the mirror all day, catch my reflection in a shop window on my way to a lecture, and realize that despite my red nose from the cold and crazy windblown hair I can still look smokin’ hot.

  19. Kimmy Sue Ruby Lou responded on 20 Feb 2012 at 9:48 am #

    love the easy, breezy flow of this post…and looking good IS something that comes from within…although a hot hair day will enhance…i live for hot hair days, those are the days i rule the world :)

  20. Kate responded on 20 Feb 2012 at 11:00 pm #

    I bet your outfits are amazing all the time.

  21. Kate responded on 20 Feb 2012 at 11:02 pm #

    @Another Kate
    LOL about mullets.
    I was actually starting to get one recently. I cut that thing off. Personally. With my new hair cutting scissors! Yay!

    OK, not the point…The point: I love that people complimented you on the days you thought you looked amazing. This energy thing…there’s something to it :-)

  22. Bethany responded on 20 Feb 2012 at 11:55 pm #

    In college, our dorm had a challenge where we covered our mirrors all week. Here’s what I realized:

    I look at the mirror like… all the time. But it’s not because I want to pick at myself. It’s almost always to check myself out, flash myself a smile, think, “Who wouldn’t want to date this?” Instead of some epiphany about how happy and comfortable I can be without looking in the mirror all the time, I just realized that I’m really, really vain. It was a little embarrassing.

  23. Kate responded on 21 Feb 2012 at 12:22 am #

    LOL! I love that.

  24. Krystina responded on 22 Feb 2012 at 10:33 am #

    I was reading this post and the comments and sat here and laughed out loud by myself. Oh, I’m such a dork. Anyway…Yesterday I left the house without spending a lot of time on fixing my hair and makeup and while I was grocery shopping with my mom got checked out by more than one guy. It gave me a boost of confidence for sure. :) When I got back in the car I had to check myself out in the rearview mirror but wasn’t too impressed…( esp with my hair. ) It just goes to show you, you never know who is giving you the “look over” when you least expect it. My hair is also at this weird length where I kinda have wings. So not cool. I cannot wait until I have a ponytail again!

  25. Cammy responded on 25 Feb 2012 at 5:38 pm #

    I do a lot of work in the tropics, and it is SO incredibly freeing to be mirror-less for weeks at a time. I can be grungy, frazzled, unshowered and mud-smeared, and still feel way more comfortable in my skin than when I’m scrutinizing a groomed version of myself under the harsh bathroom lights at home.

  26. Myth responded on 29 Feb 2012 at 4:18 pm #

    I have the opposite reaction to mirrors. When I don’t look in mirrors I start feeling sallow and dumpy. Mirrors usually make me feel beautiful. Photos, on the other hand, are awful. I always hate the way my expression looks!

  27. Eat the Damn Cake » Little Victories: perfect dress responded on 07 Mar 2012 at 1:20 pm #

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