BEFORE MIRRORS WERE invented, everyone was as beautiful as they felt. Now, the average person spends 20 minutes in front of a mirror every day; the more beautiful than average spend an hour a day; and the plug-ugly less than a minute. For some people, arriving at a mirror is like coming home and finally being with the person you love. Everything is a pleasure to look at, and there are always new things to inspect and admire.
Playing with mirrors is an absorbing interactive pastime. If you have one of those bathroom cabinets with two opening doors, you can look at yourself in profile. It’s always a bit of a shock seeing the side of your head, as it never seems to fit the front view of your head. If you then play with the mirrors, you can get a tour of your head like a helicopter ride round the Statue of Liberty. This is not a good idea, as it always leaves you with the impression that you are starring in a before-and-after shot for some product that gives you better hair, nose, ears, skin, chin, etc. Unless you’re absolutely perfect, you tend to look like the sad specimen in the ‘before’ shot.
Women are adept at using mirrors to apply makeup. They can use a mirror the size of a postage stamp to rebuild their entire face while standing in a crowded train. What they don’t realise is that when they’ve finished, their face looks like the train map.
Some mirrors are really friendly and make you look well-chiselled and intriguing. These are generally very badly lit mirrors in cheap hotel washrooms. Others are painfully well lit and make you look as though you’re waiting for the mortician to close your eyes and trim your nostril hair. When you’re feeling low, it’s best to duck under these mirrors or clean your teeth in the dark.
Mirrors have an amazing capacity for changing your mood. For example, you’re at a dinner party being fantastically witty and entertaining, and then you go into the bathroom and realise you have a piece of cabbage the size of a seed packet between your front teeth. You then understand why everyone has been laughing so hard for the last hour.
Of course, a mirror image is actually the reverse of the real you. People looking at you see you the other way round, and you can rest assured that you look a lot better the right way round. Trust me.
© GUY BROWNING IS AUTHOR OF ‘NEVER PUSH WHEN IT SAYS PULL’ AND CREATOR OF ‘TORTOISE IN LOVE’ (DVD) – USED BY PERMISSION.