Support for LAist comes from
True LA stories, powered by you
Stay Connected

Share This

News

UCLA Grad Student Shuns Mirror, Stops Asking "Who's The Fairest of Them All?"

mirror.jpg
Photo by pipko via Shutterstock
LAist relies on reader support, not paywalls.
Freely accessible local news is vital. Please power our reporters and help keep us independent with a donation today.

Kjerstin Gruys, a UCLA grad student working on a thesis about body image, has decided to stop checking herself out in the mirror for an entire year.Yes, even though halfway through her mirror-less year — which is next month — she's getting married.

Her rules are pretty thorough, and if she follows them, she won't be seeing any images of herself the entire year. Not only is she covering mirrors in her home and averting her gaze when she washes her hands in public restrooms, she's even stopped looking at pictures of herself. She might even finish out the year before she takes a look at her wedding pictures.

Gruys was inspired when she read about nuns who spent their whole lives without ever seeing their own reflection or image in The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant:


What a different life those nuns had lived, compared my appearance-obsessed world of Los Angeles! Could I go even one day without looking at myself in a mirror? Maybe I should. Actually, how about a year?? My brain was having one of those rare “aha” moment. My values and behaviors had been at odds, and this would be the "step back" from vanity that I needed. I would force myself to experience life from the inside-out, instead of the outside-in. But could I do it? How? And with what effects on my life, self-image, and personal and professional relationships? Was it possible that removing mirrors from my life might actually cause me to become more obsessed or insecure about my appearance? Would I completely lose the ability to apply make-up, style my hair, or select flattering and chic outfits?

Gruys has had a long struggle with her own body image. She's a recovered anorexic, who used to work in the fashion industry and has now
Support for LAist comes from
made it her life's work to study the sociology of how we regard our own body image.

Gruys has been blogging her way through her image-free experiment. She's continued to wear make-up, although thanks to input from her readers she has set aside one make-up-free day each week. She has had to learn how to stop hitting herself in the head when she blow dries her hair. Her fiance, who has been mostly supportive of her venture, says she spends less time prepping when she goes out.