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Sunday, August 10, 2008


I never feel more beautiful than when I'm camping. Yes, down in the dirt, no make-up, no showers, no jewelry. I realized anew this delusion when we went camping at Yosemite with a bunch of friends. Something about no mirrors, and no expectations equals no inhibitions and I feel as comfortable in my own skin as I do in the pair of floppy pants I camp in.

Then from time to time, I peak in a mirror, or the reflection of a car window and realize that the reality doesn't quite match my perception. When the reflection isn't around I feel as lovely as the European beauty I sat across from on the Yosemite shuttle. She had dark, deep set eyes, exotic olive skin, and thick brown hair. Her dirty bandanna, and lack of make-up only served to unleash her natural beauty. Indeed, her beauty came from the beauty of the rocky cliffs and massive sequoias that surrounded us.

But in my reflection the bandanna and no-mascara do not serve me as well. I find the disparity between my perception and the reflection a bit startling. I have to recalibrate my internal picture each time I catch a glimpse of myself. Finally, about halfway into the trip I've had enough.

Why is it that I automatically believe the mirror over my own perception? What makes the mirror right and me wrong? What makes my own perception any less of a reality than what I see in that cold hard glass? What a strange thing it is to realize that I have two different ways of seeing and evaluating myself.

There is comparison. Which can only happen when I look at a mirror, because then I hold the image of my still body up against the still image of other women. Suddenly, the bodies around me are reduced to a snapshot, a single glance, a summing up of parts to stack against my own.

Then there is this strange internal feeling about myself that emerges when there is nothing around to remind me of myself. When I am allowed to be totally unselfconscious. What is it? This internal knowing? It's like a lack of eyes. It's a lack of seeing. It's simply knowing. Being. There is no evaluation, just a comfortable acknowledgment that does not need to be compared in order to know itself.

I am not more beautiful or less beautiful than she is, they are. I simply am. My being calling back to the beauty of Yosemite. The soaring rock faces, the joyful running creeks, the mighty waterfalls, and the trees, the lovely towering trees, pointing upward to a beauty out of sight.


Blogger Carmine said...

Interesting post! In one of my communications classes at IWU, I decided to go for 7 days without ever looking at my reflection, and then wrote about the whole experience. It was a very revealing experiment!

5:05 AM  
Blogger Christin said...

Hey Carmine! What did you find?

8:22 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Christin, this is so provocative. I loved it. Really fascinating--you've put into words things I've experienced but never thought to explore.

8:37 AM  

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