Who are you that lies when you stare in my face
Telling me that I’m just a trace of the person I once was
Cause I just can’t tell if you’re telling the truth or a lie
On you I just can’t rely
After all you’re just a piece of glass
– Piece of Glass, Caedmon’s Call
For years I ignored what I saw in the mirror. I would tell myself that it was just a bad sweater, that I had a big dinner the night before, or the lighting in this room was off. When I would try on clothes at the store, it was the brand that ran small or this piece must have been mislabeled. When it was time for a photograph, even though I’m short, I would try to be in the back row, or at least have a pillow or small child to hide behind; it wasn’t because of my size but rather that the camera added at least 30 pounds. The only time I believed I looked like my true self was under a stack of blankets in bed, where I imagined myself almost invisible if anyone happened to look in. For about 14 years, I lied to myself and the mirrors around me went right along with it because I only saw what I wanted to and ignored the rest.
Three years ago I finally looked in the mirror for real, and at the scale, and saw the 250 pounds I had been ignoring for years and years. I looked back at those photographs and realized that I may be behind a pillow, but my hips certainly weren’t. Old Navy, Macy’s, Nordestrom, Target, and Shopko couldn’t all have decided to run small. And the mirror, that used to be my partner in crime, stared silently back; perhaps it gave a quiet Mmhmm.
This piece of glass has gone from partner to enemy over the past few years, as I see potential and need for change in every glance. Sometimes I put on an old sweater and stand before it, reminding it of all that has changed but usually I just stick my tongue out and walk away, hoping that we will get to be honest friends one day. The women of Caedmon’s Call and Barlow Girls understand this epic struggle with a thing that defines so much.
In one of the Twilight books, a main character weds another and at the altar sees and believes for the first time how much he loves her; a truth that he has been declaring for pages but she could not believe because of self-esteem issues. I love the possibility of that moment, and not just because I’m a hopeless and hopeful romantic. One day I want to see and love myself as God does, and to believe wholeheartedly the kind words of others about me. The mirror may have defined me before I walked out the door this morning, but maybe tomorrow we will smile together in friendship.
Who are you to tell me
That I’m less than what I should be?
Who are you? Who are you?
I don’t need to listen
To the list of things I should do
I won’t try, I won’t try
– Mirror, Barlow Girl