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Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?

I looked at myself in the mirror. Prolonging eye contact with oneself feels strange, your face starts to mutate from familiar to hardly recognizable. I realized the tips of my eyelashes are light brown and I discovered a new freckle. Sometimes, I talk to myself in front of the mirror too, pretending I’m a completely different person (now would be a good time to tell me you do the same, it sounds a tad creepy). “Catherina, could you pass me the salt?” I said in a British accent. Then I puckered my lips in disapproval and gazed away. The kind of duplicity produced by a mirror is reassuring, you do feel less alone in a sense, and what’s better (or worse) than your one and only company?

The thing is, it’s impossible to avoid mirrors, we’ve placed them everywhere. There are mirrors in all the toilets (despite downtown cool clubs maybe), we can spot our silhouettes in cars and store windows, there’s a mirror in the office’s elevator, I even carry one in my bag (now I’ve realized that’s utterly unnecessary). It’s quite safe to say we’re facing our faces everyday, several times. I won’t argue against the utility of mirrors, though. When I was a kid I read that placing a mirror above your bedroom’s door was a survival hack, since you could spot a murderer coming in the middle of the night and give you about two whole seconds of advantage to react. What you could do was not specified but the tip was given anyway.

It’s funny to think about humanity before mirrors were invented. They could only check their appearance in still water. If it was raining, they could not see themselves, the waters would be blurred. There’s a fabulous story in Greek Mythology about a man called Narcissus. He was an impossibly handsome hunter who once fell in love with his own reflection in a pool of water. Obviously, this one-way relationship headed nowhere. Although he did not realize in the beginning that it was just a reflection, when he acknowledged it, he fell in despair that his love could not materialise and committed suicide (here to cheer you up since 1995). But not all was in vain (pun intended). Narcissus not only inspired numerous artists - Dalí, Keats, or Dostoevsky - but evolved to a very famous term too: Narcissism.

Freud flirted with the term back in the days. He wrote that humans are born with a certain level of Narcissism and there comes a point in life where it evolves outwards, as love for others. Narcissistic behaviors are one’s intrapersonal and interpersonal battles to protect one’s self-esteem. We never stop loving ourselves, do we? Where to draw the line though, how much is too much?

I looked back at myself and scrunched up my eyes. “What are you looking at?”



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