Women fed up with the constant pressure to look good are embracing a new trend – ‘mirror fasting’. They are trying to avoid the obsession with youth and beauty by not looking at their reflections for anything from a few days to a year.
Participants avoid reflections in shop windows, wing mirrors and even mobile phones – and those who try it report feeling liberated.
Followers of ‘mirror-fasting’ believe it helps improve body image and take focus from obsessing about appearance and looks. The trend is believed to have started, inevitably, in the United States where New York beauty writer Autumn Whitefield Madrano, 36, tried it for a month last year and wrote about her experience. She said she realised she had developed a ‘mirror face’, sucking in her cheeks and posing when she looked at herself, and added: ‘It made me feel really vain.’
Miss Madrano went on: ‘I wanted to see how much my mood was affected by the way I perceived my looks.
‘I was surprised at how quickly I stopped worrying about how I looked, and if I wasn’t thinking about it She did not shun mirrors entirely, however.
Miss Madrano allowed herself a hand mirror so she could apply her eye make-up and put a piece of paper over another mirror so she could style her hair occasionally without seeing her reflection. Miss Madrano has since completed another month-long ‘mirror fast’ and hopes to do it annually. She said: ‘It’s my way of checking in with myself, to remind myself that I don’t need to know how I look every minute to be a fully functional, capable human being.’
But Dr Phillippa Diedrichs, a psychologist at the Centre for Appearance Research in Bristol, said ‘mirror-fasting’ was another way of obsessing about appearance.She added: ‘When working with people who have issues around body image we encourage the “mirror exposure technique” – to look in the mirror and take a less critical approach.’