The Heart Beat The Heart Beat blog

Bride Avoided Mirrors for an Entire Year

An experiment in boosting self-esteem and avoiding vanity

By Kristin Wong Aug 16, 2012 3:18PM

Photo: Courtesy of Kjerstin Gruys"I definitely have mascara on my nose a lot more frequently than I used to," Kjerstin Gruys tells ABC News' Robin Roberts.

Gruys is a 29-year-old Ph.D. student who conducts research on beauty and its social implications. Last year, in the midst of preparing for her wedding, Gruys made the decision to avoid her own reflection for an entire year. It started as a way to deal with stress and quickly turned into an experiment in dealing with self-esteem, vanity and social inequality.

In her blog, Mirror, Mirror Off the Wall, Kjerstin made a list of rules she vowed to follow from March 26, 2011, until March 25, 2012.

"Of course I use my rear and side-view mirrors when driving," Gruys explains. "I just can't use them to check myself out!"

She does allow herself to check out her own shadow, but she can't look at reflective surfaces.

"Window shopping has become very tricky," Kjerstin explains in her blog.

The project started when Kjerstin, who was then a bride-to-be, began shopping for wedding dresses. She told ABC News:

"I thought I was going to find a dress that somehow fulfilled every dream, and that I'd enjoy the process of shopping for dresses; I'd feel my most beautiful. I'd find this perfect dress that complimented my body."

But the experience ended up causing her a great deal of stress.

"I saw myself in the mirror and was being critical. I thought, 'Well, maybe I should lose a little weight before the wedding…'"

Kjerstin explains that she then read a passage from Sarah Dunant's The Birth of Venus, and it influenced her mirror-free decision. The book describes a group of nuns in Renaissance Italy who were restricted from having mirrors in their lives.

"This idea of living your life experiencing the world for itself instead of constantly reflecting, you know, pun intended, on how you looked....It was a life where you could get away from yourself," Kjerstin said.

She explains that the idea was to get away from the obsession with perfectionism and to instead focus on other aspects of her life. On her wedding day, Kjerstin was knee-deep in the experiment. But she stuck to her rules, and managed to continue with the project on the one day that most women likely look at their reflection the most. 

"I'm getting my focus back to thinking about the real meaning of the day, which isn't how I look but marrying the love of my life," Kjerstin said.

Of course, the experiment had its drawbacks, mascara on the nose being one. But, as Kjerstin pointed out, that didn't affect her life much. Learning to focus on feelings rather than looks has undoubtedly had a bigger impact.

Kjerstin's shopping-induced stress isn't uncommon, and her mirror-free decision might seem extreme to some, but it's nothing compared to some brides' solutions. One woman explained her experience to the New York Daily News:

"A month before my wedding I panicked and bought diet pills as a quick fix. They were full of caffeine and with all the stress of wedding planning, left me feeling so jittery and nauseous that after a week I decided to try will power instead. I tried to cut everything out of my diet except 800 calories' worth of vegetables, meat and fruit per day. I felt so tired and hungry that as soon as someone bought doughnuts at work, I crumbled. By the time my wedding day arrived, I hadn't actually lost any weight at all."

And earlier this year, a new wedding-day diet trend made headlines: the K-E Diet. It promised brides could lose an average of 20 pounds in only ten days. It also involved a feeding tube inserted through the nose and into the stomach.

The Heart Beat talked to Veronica Trebels, regional manager of La Soie Bridal. She confirmed that dress shopping is often a major source of stress for many brides-to-be. Trebels offers her advice:

"Be open-minded," Trebels says, adding that many brides often have a particular silhouette in mind. Many times, there are other silhouettes that are better suited for them.

Another tip to reduce dress-shopping stress is "to look at pictures. Because the dress might photograph different than it looks in person." Trebels also tells brides to "consider your budget. Money is another reason why brides usually get stressed out."

And lastly, she advises to keep the entourage to a minimum while you're dress shopping. Many brides bring in ten or more people, and having all of those opinions flying at you only adds to an already stressful day.

And if all that doesn't work, you can always avoid mirrors for an entire year. Sure, shopping without a reflection is a tough task, but Kjerstin found there was another benefit to that:

"I think not looking in the mirror has been good for my budget."

What do you think? Could you avoid your own reflection for an entire year?

Photo: Courtesy of  Kjerstin Gruys

More Love & Sex from MSN Living:

Breaking Up: The Dos and Don'ts of Calling it Quits
10 Questions to Change Your Marriage
Men’s Secret Bedroom Fears

Aug 17, 2012 12:14PM

Sorry, this just doesn't seem to be a realistic thing to do.....what happens when she returns to mirrors for reassurance ?


Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?

love: friendships, dating, sex & marriage

  • courtesy of viralnova.com // courtesy of viralnova.com (courtesy of viralnova.com)

    This special note will make you believe in love

    Forgotten what love is all about? Read this note, and remember.

  • fotostorm, Getty Images // fotostorm, Getty Images (fotostorm, Getty Images)

    3 surprising factors that predict a happy love life

    And a few that aren't so shocking.

  • 9 marital habits

    9 marital habits to avoid

    If you find yourself doing any of these things, consider changing your behavior or counseling.

  • Glass lamps

    Inspiring expert wedding ideas

    From pineapple sculptures made out of sunflowers to bold graphic printed tablecloths, ten trendsetters in the wedding industry shared 100 days’ worth of inspiring new wedding details. See The Knot editors’ top picks for the coolest and most awe-worthy ideas from the wedding experts.

  • Ever couple gets into the nothing fight

    The 10 rocky moments every relationship faces

    Those Facebook friends who seem to have perfect lives with flawless mates whom they adore at all times? Even they face tough times like these.

  • Lies wives tell

    7 lies your wife tells you

    How to flag her little fibs. By Laura Tedesco

  • A new study on attraction may help explain why fashions change. AFP Photo, ©Serg Zastavkin, shutterstock.com // A new study on attraction may help explain why fashions change. AFP Photo, ©Serg Zastavkin, shutterstock.com (A new study on attraction may help explain why fashions change. AFP Photo, ©Serg Zastavkin, shutterstock.com)

    Being the odd one out may make you more attractive

    A new study on attraction may help explain why fashions change.

  • The Viceroy Anguilla

    Great getaways for a spring-summer honeymoon

    As a general rule, any island that offers great weather year-round is going to attract the most visitors in the winter (high season) when we’re all trying to escape the snow. Once summer rolls around, many islands see a sharp drop-off in tourism since many people have beach weather right in their own backyards.

  • Getty Images

    The top 10 complaints from unhappy husbands

    And how you can attack the issues together.

  • 25 wedding photo bombs

    25 wedding photo bombs

    A wedding is an exceptionally special day. Sometimes, an opportune photo flub makes the occasion even more memorable. Here are 25 awesome wedding photo bombs.

  • He takes you on nondrinking dates.

    7 signs he’s getting serious about you

    Somewhere between the first few butterfly-inducing dates and the committed-for-life stage, there’s the period of wondering if you’re both on the same page about how serious you feel about a future together. If you’re not quite at the point of "that talk" but you’re looking for a few clues you’re heading in that direction, here are some signs he’s in it for the long haul as your relationship progresses.

  • 'Have you tried online dating?'

    15 things single people are tired of hearing

    What’s that sound? It’s white noise blocking out the well-meaning person proclaiming groundbreaking news about where you can meet someone, asking why you’re still single, or bugging you about when you’re getting married already. Don’t be that person. Here are 15 annoying things all single people don’t want to hear.

buzzing now on msn living
The Heart Beat is a Great Dating Blogs Winner The Heart Beat is a Great Dating Blogs Winner
relationship videos
editor's picks
the heart beat