I look in the mirror over twenty times a day.

It’s not because I am particularly fond of the reflection staring back at me but rather this constant need to “make sure” that I look what I deem as “okay”.

What does my stomach look like? Is it flat or is it bloated for everyone to notice and assume I am pregnant?

What do my thighs look like? Are they rubbing together? Can people notice that they’re not the smoothest thighs?

What does my face look like? What happens when I smile? Are my cheeks fat?

Let me first give you some context: I am what others consider to be “pretty”; I am young (well, under 30- barely!) and I am also a size 4.

Some of you might stop reading now because of how silly this situation is. I agree it is silly but it doesn’t make it any less real, any less anxiety provoking, any less annoying.

I am not conceited and especially proud of my appearance. Even when I try (as in a little make-up and wearing non-jeans) it’s never good enough for me.

So I check myself. I check myself when I get dressed in the morning, in all reflective surfaces, in all available mirrors, and I do it repeatedly sometimes with thought and sometimes just reflexively. But it all boils down to the same outcome: self-despite.

I despise that my eyeliner is never perfect, that my one tooth needs a new crown, that I have scars on my arms, I despise the little things that make me who I am and the little things that most people don’t notice and/or don’t care about.

I want to practice self-compassion. I would never be so harsh and critical to ANYONE else (aside from celebrities of course) but talking to myself I am allowed to make such negative judgements – uncool.

So I set out on a Saturday morning with the goal in mind to NOT look in reflective surfaces more than the norm (seven times!). I chose a Saturday because I envisioned it to be easier than a work day.

In the morning: putting my contacts in (does this count when I can’t see until they’re in?!) but then I also checked to see how big my butt was (which could not really be helped because I wore my exercise clothes to bed and compression pants scream “scrutinize yourself!”). Anyway, we’re at two mirror checks…. It’s 7:20am. Uh-oh. Oops! I checked my butt again as I walked to the bathroom. Three mirror checks. Well, then I got dressed. Four mirror checks and it’s 8:07am. I went to Winners and they have pillars of mirror all through the store so that was five mirror checks and then of course I tried something on so that was six mirror checks and by 11:30am I hit my daily goal of seven mirror checks in the window walking into the store.

I am not going to bore you with how many more mirror checks I did this day but let’s just say that seven is going to be an ongoing uphill battle. But I am prepared to take it – partly because I just publicly admitted it – and the fact that I look in a mirror a ridiculous amount of times in a day, and because I think if I am not constantly checking to make sure I am “okay” I will be more satisfied with my appearance.

So fan club, I encourage you all to check yourself! How many times a day do you look in the mirror? How does this make you feel about yourself? Take the mirror challenge with me and aim for less than seven mirror checks!

About the Author

Tara Richardson is a Peer Support Specialist at Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences in Whitby, Ontario. Her own personal journey through mental illness has led her to be a passionate and dedicated advocate for mental health recovery. Tara is an aspiring author who is in the (long) process of writing and editing her memoir compiled from journal entries beginning at age 11. Tara has a B.A. in Psychology, a diploma in Social Service Work, and a certificate in Cognitive Behavior Therapy. Tara can be contacted at: tara_richardson913@hotmail.com Non-creepy fan mail gladly welcomed.