Three years ago, looking in the mirror was the hardest part of my day. I would brush my teeth and get dressed with the lights off, only flicking them on to check that I didn’t get any tooth paste on my face, before flicking them off with a churning in my stomach. The mirror showed me a person I didn’t like to see. She wasn’t unattractive really, she just wasn’t the person I wanted to be. Feeling this way continued for over a year, and I’m honestly not sure why I let it go on for this long, but I know I’m not alone.
The girls you see on social media or in the hallways at school or walking down the street after work are not nearly as confident as they seem. The skinny girl who seems to have it all together goes home and cries, wishing stores actually sold her size, just as the girl with the curves you envy does the same. The girl with the bright blue hair that shines a smile so bright you think you’ll go blind is hiding a depression darker than even the blackest night, just as the girl wearing all black wishes she wasn’t breathing as she takes another swig from the bottle.
The mirror isn’t nice to any of us. There is no secret, no switch that will allow you to love yourself. There isn’t a single person who looks into the mirror and loves every single thing they see. I promise you that. If I can promise you anything, it is that you are not alone. It took me over a year to realize that I didn’t have to force myself to love the girl I saw every morning. I didn’t have to love her – but she had never stopped loving me. No matter how many times I turned the lights off on her, pinched her rolls between my fingers, pulled at her frizzy hair, bit her nails – she still loved me despite it all.
Today, looking in the mirror still isn’t fun some days. I dread turning on the light and seeing that one tooth that sits back too far. I know I am going to grimace at the little hairs that grow above my lips where they shouldn’t. My stomach turns at how my hair never lays flat, always sticks off in random directions. But I still do it. I still turn the lights on. I still give her a long look and a smile, and I tell her I love her.