The Mirror is My Enemy

Tabitha Bühne   |   March 29, 2018 

A man stands in front of a mirror. He looks at himself, turns left, turns right. He nods in satisfaction and puts his arms proudly in front of his chest. "You look good!" he tells himself, drumming on his well-toned stomach. Then he turns around, pulls a spotty undershirt over his huge belly and strokes his bald head. This man is overweight, has not shaved for a long time, needs to eat healthier and sometimes go to the gym. But he thinks he is great.

When I stand in front of the mirror, I see a woman who has too many mistakes. A woman who does not look like twenty anymore, but would like to. A woman who likes to eat nevertheless, and therefore runs to the gym too often. A woman who is never satisfied with or even proud of her body. I do not like my body. I wish I was more like my Facebook image, the optimised version of myself. Then life would be so much better, so much easier, I tell myself. I could do anything.

If this is what I’m thinking, what does that say about me? That only beauty makes me happy? That perfection is the solution to all my problems? That I am only worth as much as my looks?

Of course, my value does not depend on my appearance. And yet almost everything, especially my mood, is determined by the daily shape of my hair, my skin and the size of my pants. Actually, I'm just like the women I feel sorry for. I am already running after my youth. To counteract ageing processes, I shower ice-cold, smear curds and healing earth on my face, and linseed oil on protein bread. But I can not do without sweets and then I hate myself regularly. Is my body is my temple? No, that would be good. It's like this: My body is usually either much more or much, much less.

Do you remember the lead actress in Dirty Dancing? She had a "character nose" rather than a “perfect” little, straight nose. I do not know if she was being teased about it or just did not like it. Anyway, she had a big hit with that movie and that nose. She then got a “nose job”, that is, a smaller one. She would never have another hit.

My sister has no problems with ageing. She is in her early forties and totally happy with her laugh lines. I cannot understand this. Wrinkles are terrible. They remind me that it's all going downhill. That I am getting old. That I am no longer interesting and desirable. "Why do you have such a problem with it? Wrinkles are wonderful, they only give the face character!" she laughs. But she is serious. I look at her dumbfounded. "I do not need wrinkles, I already have enough character!“

Why is it so hard to just accept that I am getting older every day? It's life! It's meant to be like this. I do not want to be one of those women who still pretend to be 40 at age 80. Botox and tummy tucks? No thanks. I wish I could just be beautiful and wouldn't have to do anything to pretend. I could stay young and still become wise. It's stupid, I know. It's already in the Bible: Beauty passes. Do not let misery and sorrow rule you, because youth and beauty are transient...

God finds you and me beautiful. I always hated that verse:

"Thank you for making me so wonderful. Your works are wonderful. " (Psalm 139: 14)

Especially as a teenager, I always felt betrayed. Because I did not find myself wonderful. Why should I praise God for something I do not like?

The fact that I rejected myself was partly because I compared myself to some mega-styled models in glossy magazines. But in everyday life, the constant comparison was a real problem. If someone had more beautiful lips, I envied them for it. Another had better skin or straighter teeth. There was always something that seemed to be missing in me. To compare oneself is always the beginning of unhappiness. And if you do it too often, it automatically conditions your view of your own shortcomings. I was jealous. I was uncertain. I was unhappy and ungrateful. And that did not make me more beautiful.

There are people who seem beautiful. But the longer you look at them, the more boring they become. And then there are people with shining eyes, with a secret in their faces, with an attractive charisma. Those are usually people who are not thinking much about themselves. And I think I can learn a lot from them.

We all have parts of ourselves we like -- and then a few quirks. What matters is what we do with them. Do we really want to be dissatisfied and unhappy all our lives? Bitter old aunts, dreaming of youth (which was never really there, because they never accepted themselves as teenagers)?

If we reject our body, it will affect our relationship, our psyche, our eating habits and our entire lives. We should try to see our bodies realistically, to live healthy and to be happy. We cannot change everything, but we can practice seeing the good and occasionally looking in the mirror the way a man does. Women are usually more self-critical than men anyway. And often our guys appreciate the very things we do not like about ourselves. "Do two kilos more or less stop me from having a nice day today, from pleasing others, or from singing a song to God?" asks my sister. I am still practicing…

In the future, I would like to see my mistakes less and instead look at all the nice things about myself and others. I want to practice focusing on the beautiful. I want to quit obsessing about my flaws and scrutinising my shortcomings. I have given myself the following rules for the days ahead:

  1. I want to see something beautiful in people and give away an honest compliment every day, without being jealous.
  2. I want to thank God every morning that I am healthy and get to experience a new day.
  3. I want to tell my husband what I love about him, at least once a week, without exaggerating.



Photo by Logan Ripley on Unsplash

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Tabitha Bühne

Tabitha Bühne is a writer and blogger as well as a certified nutrition and fitness coach. She has a media degree and has worked for a newspaper, a radio-station and a film production company while studying. She has written two movies and also worked as an actress and model. She is passionate about running and has finished more than a dozen marathons, as well as two “ultra marathons” and an ironman. She currently lives in Delhi with her husband and has recently published a book on her time in India titled "With Sari on Safari: How India Turned My Life Upside Down"

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