What Do I See When I Look In The Mirror?

I’ll keep this short and sweet because I’’m still under the weather and nearly out of spoons for today, but I saved one last spoon for the What I See Project! Founded by Edwina Dunn, What I See is a not-for-profit project to help empower women – through answering the beguilingly simple question, “What do I see when I look in the mirror?” Such commonplace, everyday words, but when you try and reply to them, you unravel a labyrinthine beast. 

As I was figuring out my answer, I realised that there was so much I saw, so much that didn’t even seem apparent until I thought about it, but all of which would flash through my mind everytime I looked in the mirror regardless of whether I was loving or judging myself. Subconscious most of the time, but once in a while, any and every one of these strains of thought would rise to the surface to overwhelm all else. My inner voice is available for anyone to hear on the video I made, and for those who have trouble with my congenital mumbling, here’s a rough transcript. 

What do I see when I look in the mirror? I see the flaws at first, and the flaws are obvious. I see my bad skin, my too big nose, my too small eyes, the roundness of my face and then of my body. Much as I have tried to accept these over the years, they still present as glaring flaws to me on first glance. I try not to look at myself too often without makeup, I prefer looking at myself in lowlights, half lights – I prefer to hide, even from myself. How can I hide though? No one knows the reality of this face, this body as well as I do. No one knows its history better than me. My scars are history, each one with its own narrative of violence. My body is history. When I look in the mirror, I see my past. I see strength, the kind of strength that has survived abuse and lived through and continues to live through the ravages of mental illness. I see a survivor. I see a woman who has lived in the darkness of a damaged mind and who still thrived. I see someone who fought to live on even when hope seemed pointless and desperate.  “I have survived hell”, I tell myself, “and I will survive it every single time.”

Please do excuse my crippling awkardness in front of the camera – for someone who has been posing like a seasoned pro for years, it shouldn’t have been a problem, but video is still a huge stumbling block for me! My successor on this project, Anna Zecharia of Science Grrl is utterly moving and charming by contrast, so please do check her out as well. (And I thought I might mention, science was the cause of my nightly terrors when I was at school, so had resources like Science Grrl been around then, I would probably have enjoyed the subject a whole lot more! The way women and girls are discouraged from developing a love for science is utterly deplorable, and it makes me really happy that people like Anna are helping dismantle those harmful ideas and practices.) 

Lastly, this project is not just for the participating bloggers but for anyone who wants to join in! So if you feel like it, you can upload your own video, photo, text or even a tweet on the site. I was scatterbrained enough to miss the Twitter chat today, but I do hope to catch the next one! (#WISPchat) In the meantime, the @whatiseeproject Twitter is active, busy and friendly. 

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