About Face

What do you see when you look in the mirror?

About Face, by Burt and Kline, is a book I stumbled upon a few weeks ago. The forward is written by Bobbi Brown, I woman I never thought much of – until now. I'll admit; I judged Brown. I assumed she was fake, being a makeup artist and all, but her story floored me.

"When I was eighteen, my mother offered to buy me a nose job. I still remember the moment she sat on my bed and told me that she loved me and wanted the best for me. She said a nose job would make me more beautiful," Brown states.

She point blank turned down her mothers offer because she liked what she saw when she looked in the mirror, and this moment laid the foundation for her life work.

My husband is familiar with the book, he has seen me reading it over the past few weeks, so we started discussing it.

"So, what do you see when you look in the mirror?" I asked him.

"Ummm….I usually think I look tired. Black circles…you know" he revealed.

"What else?" I prodded.

"What do you mean what else?" he asked sincerely (he really didn't understand what I meant).

"Do you like what you see?" I said.


"Yeah. Usually." he said.

"That's it?" I asked.

"Pretty much," he said "I guess a book like that written by men would be really boring."

Now understand, my husband is a thinker. I call him the girl in our relationship sometimes because he loves discussing things, issues, thoughts, ideas (he's as writer, didn't I get lucky?). The fact that he didn't really have much to say on this topic really made me think.

Guys generally don't have issues with their looks. They don't obsess. They don't crisis in front of the mirror every morning. They don't spend a fortune on makeup. And they don't change their outfit 10 times before going out. They accept the hand they are dealt and they live their lives.

So we carried on talking about this subject for a minute or two, and then he said-

"Babe, not to change the subject, but can you shave my back?"

Shave his back. I was dieing laughing.

Damn, life is easier as a guy,

– mamaV

P.S. The next post will be my thoughts on what I see when I look in the mirror and I'll be looking forward to hearing your personal story. This is a way harder exercise then I thought it would be….so start pondering how you feel and how you can put it into words.


So here is what I see when I look in the mirror.

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12 Responses to About Face

  1. Newt says:

    I work with a lot of males and my type of work involves staying in camps in remote locations one thing I can tell you is men do fret about their looks, their weight, their insecurities, etc. Now granted I am exposed to men in very isolating and different environments then guys working at an office. Regardless I suspect one would come to find out that even those guys have their complexes too but it is easier to hide is a “busy” environment.

  2. gabi says:

    men just dont verbalise their obsessions the way women do! they completely have insecurities. if you had come to my school nearly all the boys owne GHD’s, worked out, worried about their weight, whether they looked good.
    my brother whos 25 changes hos outfit a million times before going out. my dd whos 56…56! moisteriez cos he worried how he looks.
    i think being a man in nows world is just as tough. for my sociilogy coursework i did it on men and eds/body image compared to girl…and results were pratically the same. girl just verbalise it more. simple as!

  3. aileb says:

    What I see through Anorexia’s Eyes
    It doesn’t happen often but there are times when I look at myself in the mirror and I am fully able to see the damage caused from anorexia and bulimia.
    It only lasts for split seconds and it’s always shocking. Then, I can’t hold on to the image and the Ed takes over.
    It’s scary not to be able to trust your eyes and have to go against what seems so right in my mind.
    Bulimia’s Eyes
    I am looking into the mirror and I am at my worst. Starvation shrinks the stomach and it aches to keep the food in.
    My face is bare and the tears run down my cheeks because I know that bulimia will make my eyes more red, cause my cheeks to puff out more and sometimes leave marks on my knuckles.
    I always stare at myself after I purge because that’s when I can see that my insides match my outside. With anorexia, everything just gets numb and I can’t see it.

  4. Claudia says:

    Hello. Thanks for your post and thanks for setting up a little spot for recovery talk on the internet. Just the other day, I was (as usual) over the top harsh as I looked into the mirror. Just then my two year old ambled in and I smiled thinking “she takes my breath away”. And then I realized the irony in it all- I would NEVER speak to my children in such a critical seething tone so why should my self speak be any different.
    I recently set up a new rule for myself- if I begin to linger at the mirror, I walk away. My recovery is dependent upon positive thinking.

  5. D says:

    What I see in the mirror is seldomly what other people seem to see when they look at me. I cannot trust my own eyes. I spend so much time in front of the mirror, finding flaws, covering up these flaws, adding even more perception of perfection when there is no flaws to be found, admiring my flat stomach, hating my bloated stomach. I can look in the mirror one minute and almost like what I see, while 5 minutes later I can walk past the same mirror and cry over my reflection. To be honest I don’t know what I see when I look in the mirror, as it changes constantly and whomever is staring back at me surely isn’t the person I once was and knew

  6. Sarah says:

    I see doe eyes, and big lips. i like myself.

  7. Sarah says:

    to add to that though, when i was bulimic, i saw fat roll after fat roll. i still can’t decide if i was actually any bigger than i am now in that time… because my view was so distorted. i honestly dont remember looking much at my face when i was bulimic, i just HAD to be thin.

  8. Frank says:

    That is so not true. Guys worry about their looks and obsess about their insecurities too. We just deal with it differently. I think your husband is really just at a point in his life where it doesn’t really matter anymore. if you asked the same question to a teenager, I am sure you would get a completely different answer. In my case, my insecurities about my looks translated into a very bad posture and low self esteem. I’m not very tall, yet I always found myself slouching. Maybe insecure guys aren’t featured as prominently in the media as girls, but it doesn’t mean we don’t exist. The whole “it’s so easy to be a guy” thing really pisses me off.

  9. mamaV says:

    Hey Frank: Thanks for your comments. The comment “its so easy to be a guy” was tongue in cheek….didn’t mean to offend.
    Do you agree though that women have more “in your face” pressure on a daily basis?

  10. Frank says:

    While I see what you mean, I don’t think it’s just about the “in your face” factor. The reality is that more girls are willing to talk about their body image and the pressure to be attractive than guys. If we look at the media, it’s not like the girls are all unrealistically thin and the guys are all positively average. Girls get pressure from Vogue, guys get pressure from Men’s Health. It’s equally in our faces, but it’s not politically correct to complain about it, because boys can’t be victims. “Boys don’t cry.”
    And that’s okay. I wasn’t offended; just afraid that your blog was turning into one of those “boys stink, throw rocks at them!” websites, a la Jezebel.

  11. YM says:

    What we hear can often shape what we see. I think sometimes people are unaware at how you can shape someone’s life negatively or positively with just a few words. In this case that person would be my father. I remember the exact moment I started thinking about my weight. The moment I thought I was fat. I was 7 and I had on this blue one piece bathing suit. My father made a remark that I had thunder thighs! What? Looking back at pictures I know how ridiculous that comment was. I was soooooo skinny. Thunder thighs. Those two words have constantly made me worry I was fat, obsess about food, about being thin, never 100% happy with what I saw in the mirror. I doubt my dad really knows the impact those two little words had on me.

  12. James Nelson says:

    I can come at this from a strictly male point of view, and that’s partly it, but I also happen to be Black-American,and I realize that’s part of it too, because I looked at my self in the mirror throughout my teens, and part of half my twenties hating myself. I finally decided I would go on this crusade to be the best me I could possibly be. Languages, skills, private pilot school, Argentine tango, the idea was to be so good at whatever I liked doing that looks didn’t make a difference. Of course I’m in the process of realizing that you’re never good enough, I also realize that this is akin to the same mindset that leads to eating disorders for many young women. I wonder how many other males in Western culture have the same issues.

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