Talking Back

Ladies, we need to learn to talk back. No, not to our bosses, friends, or families.

We need to learn to talk back to the mirror.

I came to this realization about 2 years ago. I was gazing at my reflection- again. I was in a state of semi-undress, pre-shower, and, as usual, glaring at my jiggly bits- thighs, belly, upper arms, that loose little bit of flesh right under my chin. This critical mirror gazing is something it seems I’ve always done. Fat since the age of seven, I’ve grown up on this disapproval of my reflection. I’ve spent hour after hour, year after year, standing in front of some reflective piece of glass sucking in, flattening, and even imagining carving away at this burden of excess flesh. I, like many of you, have let that picture refracted back at me define me. My mirror has always whispered,
“Fat. Ugly. Useless. Unlovable. Unworthy.”

And I have believed it. Honestly, until quite recently, I didn’t even think I had a choice in the matter. Who can fight with the plain truth staring them right in the face?

That day, I snapped.

Fueled by my recent decision to smile at the world, I hauled off and lost it at the mirror. “You do not define me! I refuse to let you determine my worth or my mood,” I ranted. “From here on out, all you get a say in is whether there’s spinach in my teeth or a stray lash in my eye!” And because it felt so good, I didn’t stop there. On the spot, with vigor and a fair share of venom, I adapted a worship song from church into an anthem of defiance and I sang it to my reflectionretrolady-800px

          You can’t measure my worth! Where does my worth come from? It comes from the Lord. You can’t measure my beauty! Where does my beauty come from? It comes from the Lord. You’ve got no say in my joy. Where does my joy come from? It comes from the Lord. You’ve got no power over me! Where does my might come from? It comes from the Lord!

I let that song continue as I spun away from the mirror and stalked into the shower. As I showered, hot, salty tears flowed along with the hot water. My song reverberated in the shower stall accompanied by the rhythm of pulsing shower head. My hair wasn’t the only thing that got a cleansing that day. I left that bathroom cleaner and lighter than I had been in years.

What joy! What freedom! What power I stole from the mirror that day and gave back to myself.

That wasn’t the first day I sang that song. For months, it was my bathroom mantra. I didn’t face that mirror without it. I sang it loudly even on those days where nothing in me believed it. Plenty of days, it wasn’t defiant at all, but beseeching. Pleading.

Then one day, I didn’t need to sing it anymore. One day I finally believed it. I don’t remember the exact day or the exact hour. However, that rebellious tune has faded from my morning routine, to be replaced with a miracle. I have made peace with my mirror. Now that that uppity piece of glass knows its place, we get along just fine, my reflection and me. She hasn’t changed. She’s the same fleshy, jiggly, space-occupying image she always was. It’s just lately, she’s beautiful.

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