Mirror Image

“I still see myself as a size six,” my size-zero Zumba instructor, Nancy, says. A few of us are chatting after class, while trying to convince a particularly fit girl that she’s got muscle tone. In Zumba, we call it ‘dent patrol’ – when we check ourselves out in the mirror to see the nicely cut lines of muscle that we’re forming when we sweat and push ourselves through workouts. In spite of our enthusiastic comments, Fit Girl insists she’s not toned, but chubby. That’s when Nancy tells us that in spite of the fact that she’s lost fat and gained tons of muscle, she still thinks of herself how she used to be.
I know amazing-looking women who absolutely do not see how they really look. It’s like some people see themselves in a skewed manner, like their brains morph what they see in the mirror into some stretched-out, blown-up version of what’s really there. Funhouse Mirror Syndrome?
Whenever someone tells me that I’m thin, I try not to say something terrible about myself, but I don’t see what they see at all. I’ve gotten to a point where I genuinely enjoy exercise, and friends have told me that despite no change on the scale, they see huge change in me.
So why can’t I see it?
We’ve all watched talk shows where the guests, pretty thin girls, sit in the chairs and weep because they see themselves as fat and ugly. I’ve seen exercises where women are asked to sketch their life-size silhouettes on paper, then stand against said paper while someone traces their outlines. The outlines are much smaller than the self-drawn sketches. Not to mention, time and time again, my prettier, thinner friends have stuck their butts into mirrors, declared, “I’m so huge!” and made faces at themselves.
Part of it is that our brains apparently have a hard time adjusting to what we are now, versus what we once were. I’ve known people who had gastric bypass and lost tons of weight, but still couldn’t wrap their heads around their new figures. Losing weight may change your body, but it doesn’t necessarily change how you picture yourself…and the faster weight is lost, the more skewed perception is.
So, ok, not having a realistic view of myself may not mean I’m messed up in the head, but it IS frustrating. What my Zumba instructor told us last night is that the best way to conquer this issue, or at least keep it in check, is to be as healthy as possible. This means eating healthy, doing good things for both mental and physical health (yay dancing at Zumba!) and trying to create a positive overall feeling of self. Yes, outward appearance is important to us, but we’re more likely to favor our outsides if we feel like we’re living life in a good, healthy way.
So here’s to living healthy and feeling good inside and out.And hopefully, this will help ease the Funhouse Mirror symptoms.

2 thoughts on “Mirror Image

  1. Maybe that's what keeps some of us motivated. If you always see something that needs to be improved, you'll work on it…well, some of us will. lol More people need to be like that. But hopefully not to the extreme of anorexia. It's very important to accept and appreciate compliments when they're given. I know this is difficult sometimes because we are our toughest critic and we always want to brush off the compliment and complain about how we still need to fix x, y, and z.

    At least the mirror image isn't reversed. (I've seen some women who dress like they're fit, but they've just got rolls hangin out. Please picture “people of walmart” photos. You know what I'm talking about.) hahaha

    There is a happy medium, I think. I do this to myself too, but I'm working on it. All I have to do is look at pictures from “before” and compare them to the mirror. There's no denying that I look better. 🙂

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