Mirror Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?


This is one statement that many of us grew up with, stories about snow white, Cinderella and the likes of them. Beautiful young girls hated for their looks and faced with many challenges but they triumphed and came out beautifully victorious.


I have nothing against such stories as I enjoyed them thoroughly and still do. However, it is high time we tell a different story as consciously or not, many of us are becoming the evil step mother standing in front of the mirror trying to find out who the fairest of them all is.  Even more unfortunate is that the answer will never satisfy. Because today, mirror says you are but tomorrow it says someone else. It no longer tells us someday, because while we stared at the mirror that someday became today and the fairest of them all, the snow white became celebrities on magazines, in movies and even friends.


One of my favourite girl bands, Barlowgirl in a song titled Mirror, sang about the unrealistic demands of the mirror. Today your face looks spotless but minutes later you look wrinkled and ugly. It talks about how the mirror had always been a determinant of who we are and how we feel. Ever felt perfect in front of the mirror for longer than a few minutes or for the really lucky ones and on a good day, longer than a few hours? It is definitely not easy to be perfect.


So what is the problem? How can you stare at the mirror and see imperfections but step out and get so many compliments or worse still, stare at the mirror see beauty but step out hear whispers of your imperfections.  Why do we let the mirror define us when it has proved time and time again to be untrustworthy? In this case, the mirror is the media; the one that says it reflects society. However, Society’s definition of beauty is greatly influenced by the media and hence the insatiable mirror.  As the beauty reflected by the media is unreal, how can a real person possibly compete with that?


Many researchers in this field have revealed that this idealistic portrayal of women and men in the media has led to an increase in numerous ills like anorexia in which an alarming number of 1 in 200 women suffer from, depression, self harm and many more similar diseases. One of such researchers, Jean Kilbourne in her latest documentary on the portrayal of women in the media, (Killing Us softly 4) said that the media dictates how we look. It surrounds us with an ideal female beauty of how we should look like… in which failure is inevitable because the ideal is based on absolute flawlessness. ‘She never has any line or wrinkles, she certainly has no scars or blemishes, indeed she has no pores,” Jean said. The irony of this is that no one looks like that, not even Angelina Jolie (not my favourite choice but she is popular enough for her looks), Cindy Crawford (who has been quotes saying, “I wish I look like the Cindy Crawford I see on T.V.”), Jessica Alba and the list goes on.


If we continually try to live up to certain standards of beauty, we should brace ourselves for an inevitable fall because we would never be up to. The good news however, is that we don’t have to. No one except God has the right to define you. In most cases, not even yourself because you get easily swayed by the trend, you can blame your flirty emotions for that.


I am in no way saying that o one is beautiful instead I am saying everyone is beautiful. If you are in doubt just look outside and see some couples. To you one of them would fall into your list of uglies but to the other person, all they can see is beauty. That is enough to tell you that there is no one accepted definition of beauty because we all are.


It is definitely not a crime to make the extra effort to look good, I do it all the time but I draw a line at beating myself over how I look because someone else looks better. Good for them. I draw the line at staring fixated at my mirror hoping I looked any different. Sorry I don’t so live with it.  I definitely draw the line at calling someone ugly because they are a celebrity and didn’t make it to E!s top 100 sexiest list. What do they know about anything? The same person who was position 50 last year became 1 this year or didn’t even make the list. They sure didn’t become finer or uglier in my eyes so obviously there’s more at stake.


It is time we tell a different story. One that didn’t make snow white wonderful because she was the fairest of them all but because she was smart, hardworking, fun loving and all the other qualities that should matter over beauty.


So next time you stare at a mirror and don’t like what you see sing the words of Barlowgirl in Mirror:


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, no, I won’t try

This article was written by Yada Magazine editor, Bunmi Obanawu.

(A picture of a broken mirror – courtesy pictureculture.com)

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