Kjerstin Gruys Commits To A Year Without Mirrors
When Kjerstin Gruys got engaged to her longtime boyfriend, the former fashion merchandiser turned sociologist feared she would relapse into an eating disorder as she hunted for the perfect wedding dress. She was fiercely committed to researching her sociology Ph.D. on beauty and inequality, but was overwhelmed by the pressure of having a picturesque wedding. Her values and behavior were at odds, and she knew had to do something — and quick.
Instead of becoming engulfed in a vanity obsession, she committed to a year without mirrors — and launched the blog Mirror Mirror…OFF The Wall six months before her wedding date.
“I’ve been trying to stick to my own goal of writing honestly and openly about the process,” Gruys said.
Her inspiration for the blog and staying mirror-free for a year came from “The Birth of Venus,” a novel about an order of nuns who lived in Italy hundreds of years ago and gave up looking at their bodies and reflections for a lifetime. Since kicking off her blog five months ago, she’s written about everything from her “No Makeup Mondays” to the history of mirrors, referencing stats such as how women spend five full days a year staring at their reflection.
Her objective for the blog? To get women to rethink body images and what they’re told about beauty. To help her stick to this goal, she volunteers at the nonprofit About Face, which aims to equip women and girls with the tools to understand and resist media messages that negatively affect their self-esteem and body image. “If I had a magic wand, I’d ask women to think about and try to challenge some of the assumptions they have about their appearance, and loosen the grip that body ideals can have,” she said.
One of the biggest themes that has stemmed from her project is trust, Gruys said. “I have to trust people to let me know if I have poppy seeds in my teeth. A bigger, deeper issue is trusting people in your life to not care about how you look and to love you even more for spending time with them instead of complaining about your looks.”
Although Gruys said she has a supportive group of peers who have nudged her on, she has been criticized by online commenters who say she is not dealing with the root of her insecurity. “In my case, I am avoiding the mirror so I can get on with my life and do other things. I hope to take the emphasis away from my body and just focus on other things.”
“I recently read something that said looking in the mirror for more and more time doesn’t give you anymore information. It’s so plain and true,” she added.