The Talking Mirror and self esteem

July 29, 2014
Bowl of self esteem

If only women could have this for breakfast every day.

 It’s insidious, low self-esteem. And pervasive among women. Despite all that we do at home and at work, despite our many accomplishments, many of us still don’t think we’re “enough.”

I don’t know why that is.   Could it be the images of female perfection we see in media every day? Those images that are difficult to live up to?

In any case, an all-female band from Austin, The Mrs., has set out to change what women see when they look in the mirror.

At BlogHer ’14, the very first exhibit  women encountered upon entering the hall was The Talking Mirror, sponsored by The Mrs.

It was also the most powerful experience many of the women had while there.

The exhibit asked the question, “How do you feel when you look in the mirror?”

Women put on headphones and stepped in front of the mirror and–the mirror talked to them specifically.  It told them how beautiful they were and affirmed all the different ways this was true. In loving detail.

I stood and watched, moved to tears at the sight of  women having their experience with the mirror–for some it might have been one of the few times they were truly validated for the way they seemed to others.

Some cried. Some laughed with delight.  Responses ran the gamut of emotions. It was clear that some–many–did not see what was being reflected back to them by the Talking Mirror.

The mirror’s message?  “You’re Enough.”

You are beautifulSaturday at lunch,  The Mrs. debuted their rockin’ new song, I’m Enough, after showing us a video that moved my entire table to tears. I’d like you to see it, too, and I defy you not to be moved.  Here’s the video of I’m Enough

When you’ve seen it, and please do, let me know what you think, below. I’ll send one lucky commenter some swag from the conference. Giveaway limited to the U.S. and Canada.

And if you’d like to hear more of the song, come back and see a different little video, one I took while they were singing at lunch. Here’s a segment of the Mrs. singing their new song, I’m Enough.

58 comments on “The Talking Mirror and self esteem
  1. You’re right! It is insidious. I found so many references to building confidience, low self esteem and that old “I’m okay you’re okay” thing at the bloggers conference to be troublesome. I was not prepared for that! I didn’t try the talking mirror. ..I didn’t think I needed to but it was we are in the 21st a country with the freest women in the world and so many are still hurting. How did that happen? Or maybe I’m being insensitive…40 years in male dominated arenas will do that to you…I actually believed “There is no crying in baseball”

    • I ask myself that, too, and end up at the same place–it’s male-dominated arenas, feeling our worth as less than. I was largely unscathed by working in a male dominated industry, not sure why–perhaps it’s because I came in with a strong notion of myself. I was also saddened at the need for an “I’m ok” focus. The mirror was a moving experience for many and if you saw the video you know that it didn’t validate appearance, it was about who we are inside, which, it seems, is supplanted by society’s focus on women and appearance. There is a larger issue here that I’ll leave to psychologist and sociologists to dig into, but it IS troubling.

  2. As a previous commenter notes it is sad that so many women feel bad about themselves–it says a lot about our culture and the attitudes we have towards women. You would never see men having to confront their looks as a way of building self-esteem. We have set women up to think that visual image is everything, to the extent that it sometimes eclipses the things that really matter. I hope this next generation of girls to women won’t have these issues to the same degree.

    • I hope things change, too, but they won’t unless we start changing what we value as a society. There are so many accomplished women and yet our young women idolize celebrity who have not accomplished anything meaningful. That really was what a lot of my post yesterday related to.

  3. Usually if I don’t like something I see in the mirror, I change it if I can.
    I realized when I’m feeling thr worst about myself I do something really nice for someone else and almost immediately the reflection changes.

  4. I’m working on it, Carol, and I think the mirror would have been interesting for me to see. I”m so glad you wrote about it.

  5. Lisa Flowers says:

    Carol, thank you so much for sharing this! I had a ticket to attend BlogHer this year, but wasn’t able to go. You see, Carol, in just a few short days I leave for a wonderful adventure in Nigeria.

    This adventure is part of a 2 year journey of finding myself and finding love after a very, lonely marriage. Hopefully this adventure will help me confirm (and believe) that I am beautiful inside and out, no matter what I see in the mirror. <3 <3 <3

  6. Roz Warren says:

    LOVE that illustration, too.

  7. Roz Warren says:

    Shared this on Twitter.

  8. OMG, Carol!….you’re making me cry so early in the morning!! But THANK YOU. Thank you. I believe the Universe has really been speaking the same message to me these past few days and this post of yours seals it somehow. To be ‘ENOUGH’, to feel enough is enough. Often times, we focus on wanting more and wanting perfection which is just not attainable. We are enough. And if we do focus on who we are, then we’ll see so much more of our beauty. The priest on Sunday’s mass said something that stuck with me and I feel it’s relevant here again. He said, “To see ourselves the way God sees is…that’s Gratitude”. It’s profound but truly something worth working towards on a daily basis, with or without a talking mirror. THANKS again!

  9. kim tackett says:

    Oh, I should have tried it. I let someone talk me out of it….shoulda, woulda, coulda. So now I guess I will have to stand in front of my own and talk to myself.

  10. That sounds like it was a powerful experience. They should have handed out those fantastic bowls to everyone.

  11. TJ says:

    I just read an advice column letter in our paper yesterday in which the author had a friend that passed away very young. She said she is now questioning her life and the choices she’s made and is this it? Was she happy with a family and where she was in life? The enough questions all were there, too. The columnist replied with how she also had just lost a co-worker from cancer at 47 who had not chased a bucket list when she received her diagnosis, but said her life was enough. She loved it, she’d continue as is, enjoying every moment until the end. So the author found it interesting to see the two sides of the coin and tried to encourage acceptance to the letter writer. I agree that it is hard to be happy with yourself. To feel like you are all you can be. I’m sure I don’t know a woman that is completely content. So many expectations in our world. It’s exhausting to think about them most of the time. It’d be nice if we would figure out that we are enough and give ourselves a break so we could find some peace.

  12. Laurel Regan says:

    I really appreciated the idea behind the Magic Mirror, and also the “I’m Enough” stickers in the hotel rooms. I’ll admit, it wasn’t easy to step in front of the stickered hotel mirror to take the dreaded selfie, or the Magic Mirror to spend time looking at myself and hearing the affirmations – but I’m glad I did both. Baby steps.

  13. I think what’s difficult about getting comfortable with what we see in the mirror is that for many of us once we get comfortable, what we see changes and the process starts over. It’s not just a state of mind and not just what we see but a balance we need to keep striving to strike between the two when there isn’t necessarily a constant. I do love the message of the song. Always strive to get there, no matter what changes.

    • For me the point was that the mirror reflects not our appearance but who we are inside, and that is powerful, so powerful. We need to see the totality of our selves, I believe.

  14. This is such a beautiful idea! Wow–I REALLY wish I could have gone to BlogHer. Thanks for sharing this—it’s the first I’ve heard of it. Hope they do it again at the next BlogHer!

  15. CRYING and will think of the Talking Mirror every time I catch a reflection from now on!

  16. Bola says:

    What do I see when I look in the mirror? I see features I love, I see blemishes too and I am okay with them.
    Look in the mirror but don’t stop there, that would be self-absorbed. Move away from the mirror and look around you too.

  17. Ruth Curran says:

    Pretty freakin’ powerful video…. Oh how I would love to give that gift, the empowering feeling that comes with hearing how others see them. I said to a friend not too long ago, “My wish for you is that when you look in the mirror, you see what we all see.”

    It is the glimpses in the mirror that get me — the moments when I catch the side of my reflection and I see my mom that make stand a bit taller.

  18. Helene Cohen Bludman says:

    We are so self-critical, and what does it accomplish? Nothing — except for making our self-esteem take another dive. I do hope this generation of little girls grows up to love themselves more than we loved ourselves.

  19. I was also quite moved by the video. I never got a chance to look in the mirror, but I did keep it in mind when I saw less-than-flattering photos of me from the conference. I do feel much more that I’m enough now than I ever did when I was young. Appreciating the fact that I’m getting older and that every day is a gift has helped with that.

    • What’s so interesting is that you and many of the women in our cohort are so accomplished–by any objective standard we hare rockin’ women. But often, by our own? not so much. I agree about every day being a gift, and just that thought is a gift.

  20. Kim says:

    I was also at the BlogHer ’14 conference and got my chance to participate at “The Mirror”. It was such a beautiful moment to not just look “at” ourselves, but look “in” ourselves – something that we as women don’t do often enough. I’ve had clients who put make-up on for decades – looked AT their eyes, but not INTO their eyes. Big difference.

  21. Just awesome Carol- the rock group, the mirror, and YOU. It really breaks my heart to see (know) so many of us still don’t celebrate our beauty in it’s full potential.

  22. I allowed people around me to kill my self esteem when I was in my 30s and 40s…I got it back at 50 and suddenly became aware of how many women around me were suffering. This is how my blog began was to encourage and inspire women to love themselves and place themselves at the top of the priority list ….by doing so we discover joy and can serve others better. My Thursdays I MATTER series is only a few months old, but the emails I get are so telling…that this type of encouragement is needed by some every day. I do not know why the message is still so important and why women get in these slumps still. But I feel very called to help women in this area. I turned my life around and I want to help others do the same. Thanks for sharing the MRS. I will check them out!

  23. I was at BlogHer and completely missed the The Talking Mirror. I’m sorry i did.
    BTW…I love the green bowl and the message. We all need a bowl of that for breakfast!

  24. Karen says:

    Thanks so much for posting this, Carol! For years, I worked as a therapist with young women who thought very little of themselves. It was terribly painful to look at those beautiful young faces and realize that they couldn’t see what I saw in them–but also satisfying and rewarding when we could travel together along the road to self-acceptance. It didn’t always work–therapy isn’t a guaranteed deal–but when it did, it made me feel the way that song does.

  25. Thank you for sharing the video, Carol. I am in tears. How many women never hear that message of love and hope? I’m lucky. I have a great support system that has picked me up more times than I can count and loved me back to health. The mirror was such an amazing gift for those who attended the conference. I wish I could have been there.

  26. Janie Emaus says:

    With limited Internet I could not watch the video. I will watch it when I get home.

  27. Katie Paul says:

    Sobbing here. Thank you for sharing this — I sometimes need a reminder.

  28. Diane says:

    Crying . . .

  29. Thank you for that! What a wonderful experience for them….talk about self esteem! What a beautiful video to share. Thank you.

  30. This is so moving – I have been thinking about it all day! I would like to write something about talking mirrors and self esteem on my blog, and I’m wondering if it would be okay to feature this blog post in it? I would provide a link of course!

  31. WOW! It’s Thursday morning and I’m sitting outside listening to the storm after about 5 hours of sleep. Bedhead, gook eyed the works! I can’t remember ever feeling beautiful but this moved me to tears. What a wonderful project. I have always suffered from such low self esteem even though I know I’m one of the luckiest women in the world. But yeah WOW! ENOUGH SAID!

  32. Kay Lynn says:

    I would describe myself as having high self-esteem but was a blubbery mess when at the talking mirror. I look in a mirror and see what I need to improve or accept instead of what’s beautiful about me. I’m going to work on changing that.

  33. Self esteem? I join the legion of women without it. And envy those that have it. I have tried, but suspect I would have joined the throngs who didn’t believe that mirror.
    I find accepting and believing negatives sooooo much easier. Which I suspect is early conditioning which stuck. We were brought up to believe that people who believed in themselves were vain. Which was a baaaad thing.
    Which was wrong. It didn’t even allow the smallest speck of self worth to take root.

  34. Nancy says:

    I saw the video. How did they do that? It couldn’t have been random women walking through the mall. They had so much background information on them and personal photos and family members involved. What was the context?

  35. Katie says:

    Truly beautiful. This made my day…Thank you!!!

  36. Rachel Ream says:

    Simply Beautiful. We need to remember this message. and tell ourselves “I am enough” every single day. Thank you for this!

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