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Health, Beauty & Fashion

Mirror, mirror on the wall

Go ahead and make full use of that mirror.
The Straits Times - August 31, 2012
By: Tee Hun Ching
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Mirror, mirror on the wall

If you ask the Urban writers to name the one item in the office - besides their office laptops - they can't do without, their answer would probably be the full-length mirror that hangs on a wall near where we sit.

It started off as a prop in the photo studio but has since been happily adopted by the team. It is often the first thing we greet when we come in, and the last stop we make before heading out for an event or a meeting.

The mirror exerts a magical pull on most passers-by too. Young or old, male or female, colleagues approaching the looking glass invariably pull themselves straighter, smooth away phantom creases on their clothes, tuck away stray strands of hair and give themselves a quick once-over.

It is not so much vanity as a reflex: See a reflective surface? Preen. Who doesn't want to show the world his or her best side?

A poll of 2,000 women by Simple Skincare earlier this year found that they check their reflections eight times a day on average. That's not excessive in my book.

If you check the mirror before you head out (as you should), glance at it every time you visit the loo and brush your teeth while looking at your reflection, that's about right. And that doesn't even factor in those times during the day when you check if your make-up is intact or scrutinise your face for food crumbs.

But, in response to society's increasing obsession with looks, some people are going on a 'mirror fast', The New York Times reported recently.

They avoid looking at their reflections for days, weeks and even months in a bid to focus on 'more important issues', such as work and relationships.

Like going without make-up or making do with just a few pieces of clothing for weeks or months, a mirror fast is yet another way to rebel against the social preoccupation with perfection - whatever the word means in today's context.

It may be a fun experiment for a while but, surely, people are overreacting. Why shoot the messenger? There are far better ways to inoculate yourself against unrealistic expectations, the most basic of which is to make peace with your body - flab, flaws and all.

Not only do I carry a pocket mirror in my bag, I also have one on my desk for quick inspections. My rationale is: Not everyone is going to tell me when I have a sliver of spinach stuck between my teeth, or that I'd been too heavy-handed with the rouge.

It's not narcissism - the mirror serves very practical purposes.

Would people applaud you for your lack of vanity because you don't look in the mirror? Of course not. They are more likely to avert their eyes if you suffer an 'appearance malfunction'.

So, by all means, go ahead and make full use of that mirror. We know it's not just vanity that drives you, but a mix of logic and instinct too.

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