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March 05, 2001: If: Mirror, mirror

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If Collab - March: If given the challenge, could you live without a mirror for one week? How much emphasis do you place on the outward appearance you show the world?

One week. No mirror. What's the big deal with that?

It sounds so easy, doesn't it, and of course if you say 'no', then that makes you completely shallow - obsessed by how you look and how others view you.

But my answer is 'no' anyway.

Am I obsessed with my appearance? Of course not. I can do my hair without benefit of a mirror - give me a comb and a barrette and I'm all set. My beauty regime is minimal - five minutes, most of that spent in applying moisturizer and lotion, since my skin and the Sahara desert share a few things in common. I never got the hang of most forms of makeup - every time I apply eye shadow I look as if I've been punched, and blush only makes me look artificially sunburnt. Mascara doesn't require a mirror to apply, and I can even do eyeliner by touch if need be.

So why do I need the mirror? Not for any grandiose illusions of beauty, no. I need it for a far more basic reason. Because of the trichotillomania, I live in constant worry about my eyes - how they look. In times when the trich has gotten really bad - times like now when stress overwhelms me and I give up on the struggle to leave my eyes alone - it becomes crucial that I do the eyeliner and the mascara very carefully every morning; that I color in the brows; that I do whatever is in my power so that noone will know about my ugly little secret. In times like these, I glance into any mirror I pass, checking to see how pale I look - if the eyeliner is even, if anyone can see that there's huge bald patches in my brows. It is always in the back of my mind, this disorder.

In less stressful times, when the disorder is mostly under control and I am reasonably certain that, even makeup-free, I look 'normal', I might answer this question differently. Filled with confidence, sure that this time I've finally got it licked, I might declare 'I don't need a mirror! Ha!'

It's far better to be realistic. I have a dream that someday I really will be able to answer this question with a resounding 'Yes, yes yes!' But for now, I will keep my mirror close, if only for my own peace of mind.

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