How to Look at Yourself


Image of myself looking in the mirror
Buhagiar, Natalie. “How to Look at Yourself.” 9 February, 2022. Digital photograph. Private Collection.


How could a useful object to one person, be another’s worst enemy? Individuals all over the world use mirrors on a daily basis for a variety of purposes. In the morning when you wake up while washing your hands you take a quick glance while checking to make sure you have nothing in your teeth. While one would consider mirrors as necessary grooming aids, they can also be used as decorative tools to add accents to modify space. But what if I do not like what’s looking back at me? 

My dyed black hair that I admire during the colder months now seems to wash me out and is in need of a little more colour. My large nose that I’ve grown to accept has always been too big for my face and something I’ve always been insecure about. My miniature lips that I never minded through childhood now do not seem to comply with society’s beauty standards. Maybe I am biased because I see myself on acceptable days, where my skin is clear and tanned. However, I also see myself on bad days where my under-eye circles are dark, and my skin is frighteningly pale. I see myself through the prism of my topic, which tends to distort my viewpoint and encourages me to constantly improve my appearance.

My anxiety takes over my body as I fear others may view me the same way I view myself. I often think, what is the initial thing someone looks at when they look at me? Is it my nose, lips, or the permanent scar on my eyebrow from not catching a perfume bottle? I like to think that everyone perceives me differently, and the interactions we have had with one another may play a huge role in this. My coworkers who see me at 7:30 am and people who see me out on a Saturday night at a bar may view me differently.

Why is it so difficult to be positive when thinking about myself and who I am? Is it because I am constantly comparing myself to other people, or is it because I’m allowing society to dictate what an attractive person should look like? Affirmations help me stay on track and keep my outlook upbeat even when I’m feeling miserable. It helps me remain optimistic while never losing sight of my identity by reminding myself that “I’m gorgeous,” “I’m proud of you,” and “I’m a badass.”

I should see myself as a strong independent young woman who is beautiful not despite my big nose and small lips but because of my big nose and small lips. These features of myself that I critique and hate the most have been passed down to me by the people I love. I should recognize myself as more than just my physical appearance and applaud myself for being creative, charitable and hard-working. A mirror, although maybe one’s worst enemy, should really be one’s greatest accomplishment.

© copyright 2022 Natalie Buhagiar, Ryerson University.

Works Cited

Buhagiar, Natalie. “How to Look at Yourself.” 9 February, 2022. Digital photograph. Private Collection.

Disclaimer: Images in this online exhibit are either in the public domain or being used under fair dealing for the purpose of research and are provided solely for the purposes of research, private study, or education.