Afterwards, a few local women were on a panel talking about body image and the media. They were insightful and funny and said some interesting things. A girl down the row from me, maybe 12 years old or so, asked the panelists how they get over looking in the mirror and feeling badly about themselves. And they gave some legitimate answers, the kind I could see myself giving. I wake up late so I barely have time to look in the mirror. I look in the mirror, notice a zit, notice this and that, and then move on. I don’t comb my hair. I try to avoid full-length mirrors.
All of those answers are fine. They’re real. They’re honest. But they’re not very inspiring. And, at least for me, they’re not the whole picture.
You know how you shower all the time and they’re all basically the same, but then suddenly, often for inexplicable reasons, you take what I like to call the super clean shower? You get out feeling awesome. Fresh. Ready to take on the world. And so, so clean.
There’s nothing wrong with the other showers. They’re pretty good. Fine.
I feel the same way about looking in the mirror. I’m happy with the way I look. Sure. I don’t think a ton about it.
But every once in a while, out of nowhere, I look in the mirror and do a little double take. Damn, I look good, I say to myself. I smile. I might even wink.
And that’s OK, too. Women have a way of cutting down the competition, of keeping each other in our rightful places. Keeping us feeling like confidence is something you’re supposed to have but not show, never flaunt.
I read a post today by Susannah Conway about always wearing an invisible crown. She’s been writing really interesting things lately, and this was one of them. And I totally agreed with her premise, that it’s OK to like ourselves. That we’re better than “not too bad.”
But I would take it a step further. I don’t think our crowns have to be invisible. I don’t think our strength needs to be something we keep inside, save just for ourselves.
When I spoke up on Thursday night, a room full of women turned to me, some of them smiling, nodding. I don’t think I’m alone in occasionally smiling in the mirror. Grinning. Not just being “not too bad” looking, but pretty damn good. And being not afraid to feel that way, too.