I’m assuming that in this prompt, we are to ignore the existence of technological “mirrors,” such as front-facing cameras on smart phones and other devices. Let’s, for a moment, pretend that this is a world where “selfies” also do not exist and the all of the shameful narcissism of the social media realm is at a minimum. Let’s throw practical solutions and technicalities to the wind for a moment, and not take this hypothetical situation quite so literally, but more metaphorically. Or, even better, let’s pretend for a moment that we are in a different time, when mirrors were the only real way to observe one’s own appearance.
I’ve never really considered myself to be all that vain. I do check my reflection at most opportunities, and I fret over my appearance at times, but not to the point of obsession, the way I see some women do. I don’t spend hours each day choosing my outfit and doing my hair and makeup. These things are given some time and careful consideration on a daily basis, but they aren’t a very central part of my life. Adversely, I don’t possess the most self-confidence in matters of appearance. I do feel somewhat unattractive at times, and I sometimes find myself staring at stunningly beautiful women, thinking “Why can’t I look like that?” I wouldn’t say that my self-esteem is terrible, though. At best, I guess I would say it’s not great, but it’s pretty healthy overall. I guess I’m a double-edged sword in this regard, the way I am in most circumstances. My personality is very multi-faceted and quite enigmatic. So my perception of a world without mirrors is a rather difficult world to imagine.
It would certainly take some getting used to. To suddenly wake up with such a peculiar change in one’s sense of reality would be unsettling at first, but it wouldn’t be unmanageable. I would still try to do all the things I normally do post-shower, to the best of my ability, and without a doubt, I would be concerned about the results, but regardless, life must go on. I wouldn’t be hiding under a rock just because my mascara might be smudged. Going out in public would certainly prove to be entertaining. I might enjoy taking a seat on a mall bench, observing the scene through my carefully placed sunglasses. Disheveled and distraught women would be scattering every which way, frantically trying to complete daily errands, while dodging acquaintances, in fear of being seen unkempt. Normally well-groomed “pretty boys” would be walking about with cowlicks in their hair and five o’clock shadows on their faces. Many people, including myself would feel a bit rattled, and it would be nice to know that I’m not alone with my flaws and occasional feelings of inadequacy.
Eventually, we’d all get on with our lives, some of us not as easily as others. I’d like to think that I would eventually get sick of trying so hard to keep up my appearance, when I have no idea what my alterations look like anymore. I rarely, if ever leave the house without applying a little eye makeup, but in this world, seeing the girl who I used to think of as a ten start looking more like a seven or an eight might take some of the pressure off. I and everyone else would probably start looking more like the way we were meant to. It would be a humbling, refreshing new change.
If there is one thing that I’m sure of, John wouldn’t even bat an eye at my new look. Maybe after a while of no longer comparing my view of myself with with what the mirror shows me, I might start to believe him a little more when he tells me how beautiful I am. Maybe I’d start listening more when he tells me he loves me, and I’d start to love me too. Maybe I’d start to be happier with my imperfections, when I stop focusing so much on them and eventually forget about them. Perhaps my view of the world would even become a little brighter. I think it would. Children would grow up without so much emphasis on looks, and maybe, as a result, they would grow into happier, healthier adults. We would all take more time to focus on each other and what’s happening around us and less on our ourselves and own jaded perspectives.
Yes, it would definitely be somewhat of a shock in the beginning, and without my daily primping and prepping for the outside world, I might feel somewhat like I’m living out a real-life nightmare of being naked in public. But when everyone else is naked too, the dream suddenly seems less nightmarish. Like anything, after some time of everyone doing it, it becomes normal. When we are no longer hiding behind masks, our true selves are exposed. We get to know each other – and ourselves – better. When we are no longer so focused on our unchanging external flaws and our physical selves, we are enlightened and our souls are freed. In this sense, a world without mirrors would be a very beautiful world indeed.