Mirror Mirror on the wall


If all the mirrors in the world were suddenly to break, if we could no longer look at ourselves in reflected surfaces, if  vanity were taken out of the equation, would you still work out and try to lose weight?

Think about that for a minute…I’ll wait.


Would I worry about my weight if I had no idea what I looked like? I don’t know. How much does vanity play a part in my desire to be fit and healthy? A lot, I’m afraid. More than I’d like to admit, really, but it’s the truth.

I read an article on Today’s Christian Woman called “The Year I Became a Total Hottie”. The article was about a 50-ish woman who lost a bunch of weight and suddenly she was getting all kinds of attention, and she readily admits it went to her head. She was in love with herself – the image in the mirror in front of her and all the trappings it brings with it. The focus of her article was pride and how it can take over and before you know it you’ve turned into Narcissus, pining away for your own reflection. Sometimes when you look in a mirror, you don’t notice certain things, but sometimes you look and see the whole ugly truth: this article was a mirror for me and I cringed at what the author wrote because it looked so familiar.

Last summer I got down to 152 pounds – the lowest weight I had been in years. Planning for my 20 year high school reunion was also just starting and I was so excited that I could be going as a thin woman. I wouldn’t have to worry that people would be judging me, whispering to each other, “Wow she got FAT!” I wanted to show my old high school boyfriends what they had missed out on by breaking up with me (not that I ever wanted to marry any of them). I wanted to be the Belle of the Ball and have everyone gush over how good I looked. Sad, but true – that was my main reason for wanting to go.

I gained a little weight back, but I’m happy to say that I am losing weight again, and I’ll probably (hopefully) be back down to the 150s by the time the reunion rolls around at the end of July, but now I am trying to decide if I really want to go or not.* If I take vanity and ego out of the equation, what other reasons do I have for wanting to spend the time and money to go? Suddenly, my original reason for wanting to go seems pathetic and selfish, and I really don’t want to be THAT person at the reunion – you know the one I’m talking about, I’m sure.

So, aside from the reunion, this article got me to thinking, “is vanity an okay reason for wanting to lose weight?” I think partly, yes, it is okay. Speaking as a married woman, it is a well known fact that men are visual creatures, and right or wrong, most men like their women at a healthy weight (I don’t for one minute believe that men want their women to look like rail thin supermodels – just ask the men in your life who they prefer: Kate Moss or Kate Winslet?) So of course I want to do what I can to keep my husband interested, and getting to a trim weight is just one of many things I can do (cooking a meal that doesn’t taste like sawdust is next on my list). I want his eyes on me, not the hot neighbor next door. (And just for the record, there is so much more to keeping a marriage interesting than just how we look, but for the purposes of this post, I focused on this one tiny aspect, k?)

What would happen though if we did take vanity out of it? Even if I could never visually see the results of my weight loss efforts, I’m pretty sure I could feel them. I think I would notice the increased energy, and the ease of movement, the improvement in my mood. And then there are the health aspects of it: lowered cholesterol, lowered rates of cancer, lowered rates of just about every disease versus that of overweight people. Longevity of life and being able to be active during that longevity are things I would appreciate also.

So, while I think it’s perfectly fine to like what you see in the mirror, don’t let it become your sole reason for losing weight. To be quite honest, I’m still struggling with this. It’s hard to shift my thinking, but vanity and ego really won’t get me very far and I want to go all the way with this.


*more on this in my next post! Ooooh, a teaser!

16 thoughts on “Mirror Mirror on the wall

  1. i would due to being a type ii diabetic. people are shocked sometimes to find out that someone as “young” and athletic as myself is a type ii, but i’ve already seen the affects of the disease in the last few years, and to me.. the “looking good” part is just a plus, but not the reason.

  2. Oh you are hitting me where it hurts sister! I’m completely doing this out of vanity (and my 20 year reunion in August!). Pride, thy name is Juice. Yikes. Need to think about that.

    Link to the article please?

    1. I thought I linked to the article – is it not working? 😦

      I think MOST people want to lose weight for vanity (myself included) – I just thought it was an interesting concept to think about! For myself, I wondered how motivated I would really be if I couldn’t SEE the result.

      I don’t mean to make anyone else cringe! Just really thinking out loud on this one! 🙂

  3. Hi there…first time here. Just had to say that this post was VERY interesting to me. Lots to think about! I must admit, the aspect of doing it to please my husband visually has occurred to me in the past, but I resented it so much that I let it keep me from trying to lose the weight! Awful, I know, but true.

    Now I truly believe that I should make an effort as a wife to look nice for my husband…I was just too stubborn and hard-headed to admit it in the past!

    Anyway, great post. 🙂

  4. Jillie!! Looks like you got your blogging mojo back!! This was a goodie. (But that picture scares me…) BTW, just for clarity’s sake, I was not the 50-something Christian woman who wrote the article about becoming a hotty. I did, however, become a warmie for a brief moment in time a couple of years ago–LOL! And I did enjoy the attention.

    But seriously, this topic really interests me. I know vanity is somewhere in there as a factor, but it is not a motivating factor, or I would have gotten this done a long time ago. And what is interesting to me is that there are many days that I don’t look at myself in the mirror (when I am not going anywhere.) I mean, literally, I don’t look in the mirror. I don’t even know how I avoid it when I have to go to the bathroom a million times a day.

    And the whole thing of diseases motivating us…we can’t feel diabetes, or high cholesterol, or impending stroke…so they are at best indirect motivating factors.

    What motivates me lately is my back. It hurts all the time. Its not terrible, but its always there. It really irritates me that it is there, and in my mind or emotions, it is directly related to the extra weight around the middle.

    “The increased energy, and the ease of movement, the improvement in my mood,”–those are also things that really motivate me.

  5. I would absolutely do this even if I had no access to a mirror! In fact, I would be changing my diet and lifestyle even if I were thin! The vanity aspect is a very small part of my motivation, although it is nice when people notice that I’ve lost weight.

  6. really throught provoking and something which I know my answer has changed over the years.

    now Ive finally (hello mamahood! :)) moved past the vanity or vessel piece and to the I sooo need the energy/feeling of strength exercise gives me on a daily basis—-so Id keep working out.

    can not wait for your next post!

  7. Aw, Jill. You seem like such a sweet, down-to-earth person. “Vain” is hardly the word I would have used to describe you. (And I agree, nothing wrong with wanting to look nice for your man! 🙂 )

    This post was rather thought-provoking for me. At first, I thought, “Naw…I can hardly claim vanity after letting myself go for 13 years.” But my vanity has been less physical and more about other aspects of myself…so focusing on the physical has actually been kind of humbling. I still have so far to go. Also humbling is knowing that since I’ve carried two babies and a *lot* of extra fat around for quite some time, a 20-year-old hottie is not going to emerge as the fat goes away. (Not that I get caught up in moping too much…yeay, exercise endorphins!)

  8. Vanity reason for weight loss is ok, but why vanity didn’t kick in sooner-before getting overweight?

    I think that we get overweight cause we substitute real life pleasures with food,we get bored-we eat,we get depressed we eat…etc.
    Common fact-food triggers same receptors for pleasure as some drugs-meaning -enjoy your life, find new stuff to enjoy in,new lover,get in fitness,learn languages,climb mountain….-

    You will find plenty of things to satisfy you-before you even know it you will be loosing weight and feeling great without efforts and tortures of -gain weight-loose weight.

    Anyhow ,i liked your post-got me thinking…..

  9. When I first started losing weight I told myself it was for health reasons, however I have to admit, now it is gone I can’t stop looking at myself – whenever I pass a shop front – I check the reflection! I realised that the other day and it was quite a shock to me to realise how vain I have become! Anyway, I am still happy from a health perspective to have lost the wieght, also I love the fact that clothes fit again! It is win-win I think!

  10. Hi Jill!!! Missed you. Great post. I’m totally vain. & after all the compliments I’ve gotten from our vacation photos, it’s gone to my head completely. I’m channeling it to keep myself happy & healthy though, & not letting it go to my head. Let’s face it–I’m not going to be Mrs. America any time soon. Which is OK by me.

    The whole issue of looking good for your husband is HUGE. I struggled with that for all the years I was overweight. So did my husband. He married a 145 pound hottie & ended up with a 190 pound unhappy 27 year old wife. For 10 years. He loved me the whole time. But he was not attracted to me. Regardless of what someone reading this might think, it didn’t make him a b@st@rd. He’s just a normal male.

    Hope you are well sweetie!

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