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Mirror, Mirror On The Wall: The Disservice Of Comparing Ourselves To The Rich And Famous

The Many Uses Of The Mirror

As long as we Homo Sapiens, (Wise Man – huh??) have been around, we’ve been trying to figure out what we look like. From still water, (I’m talking about you Narcissus,) to polished bronze, to tin backed glass, (“through a glass darkly,”) to the modern miracles of nanometer smoothness that power today’s majestic telescopes, there has been a steady increase in mirror technology.

At its heart, a mirror is an optical viewing aid. Think about the convenience and safety of the rearview mirrors on our vehicles.  Mirrors and lens can be curved to magnify distance objects or microscopic particles, used for remote viewing in periscopes, applied to gas and solid state systems to produce laser beams, and even tell us very precisely the time via our atomic clocks among innumerable other purposes. If you look around, you will find mirrors everywhere. All in all, our modern mirrors are a triumph of technology that makes our lives safer, more interesting, and more comfortable – – –

The Bathroom Mirror

Except for the mirror horrors to be found in bathroom vanities, or heaven forbid, a full length dressing mirror. They reach the pinnacle of technology love/hate.

I read the results of a recent survey of college age females regarding how they felt about how they looked. 80% reported they were unhappy with their looks. 20% were lying. They didn’t do a survey of males, but being males, I’m sure that whatever their responses, 100% would have been lying.

You’re heading out on the dream date of a lifetime when you step before the bathroom mirror and tell yourself, “Lookin’ Good!”  Except there’s that little nagging voice in the back of your head saying, “Nah – ugly as a mud fence.” (For the life of me, I can never figure out how such a hopelessly neurotic species could ever come to dominate an entire planet. There’s obviously something very wrong in this universe of ours.)

The Demographics Of My Town

While I was writing this, I ran out of Diet Coke. (That’s a disaster of cosmic magnitude where all neural activity stops.) So I made an emergency grocery run. Except, that on the way, I swung through Popeye’s drive through for spicy chicken, (and a large DC,) then ate my lunch while watching the customers swarming in and out of the grocery store. I live in a bedroom community of Austin – other than homes, there’s not a lot else here. In particular, there’s only one grocery mart serving 20 thousand plus folks so it should provide a representative sample of the residents. While I ate, I took my own impromptu survey.  Here’s the results:

Females – movie stars:  Zero

Males – movie stars:  Zero

Does that mean I live in a really homely town?  Actually, it’s worse than that because:

NBA centers:  Zero

NFL linemen:  Zero

NHL defensemen:  Zero

Pro wrestlers:  Zero

I couldn’t evaluate their golf handicaps, but I’m sure than none of them could beat Tiger Woods or Jack Nicklaus in their prime. I don’t know their credit scores, but I’ll give you any odds you want that none were in Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk or even Bill Gates’ class. I’d bet there were no Nobel laureates, no Pulitzer prize winners, no triple crown jockeys, no operatic divas, no tennis sensations, no astronauts, no chess grandmasters, no Olympic champions, no fashion models, no rock stars, nobody but “just people.”

So is the human race universally homely, untalented, and stupid?

No – but we ARE universally guilty of placing unreasonable expectations on ourselves – starting with how we look. Do we get up in the morning and think, “If I were a foot taller, I could be an NBA center.” Or in my case, “If I were a foot shorter – and female – I could be a prima ballerina assoluta.” Probably not, but we do look in the mirror and think we need to look like the people continuously paraded before us via the media.


Folks – all those people we see on the tube, on the web, in the movies, and in the fan mags are as rare as Super Bowl winning quarterbacks. We’re no more likely to look like them than we are to repeat as the Master’s Champion. We need to quit beating ourselves up and just enjoy being what we are.

That doesn’t mean we should just let ourselves go. We need to do the best we can with what we’ve got and then be totally content. I was never going to be a rock star. I was never headed to the NFL. Nor was I ever destined for the NBA – but I still enjoyed playing. I was never going to win a Grand Slam but while the knees still allowed it, I still enjoyed beating up helpless little white golf balls. And I was never going to look like the latest movie or TV star.

I couldn’t be any of those people.  But – they couldn’t be me either.

Nor could they ever be you.

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Reeves Motal
Reeves Motal
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