The Mirror Poisons the Human Heart

Man shouldn’t be able to see his own face – there’s nothing more sinister. Nature gave him the gift of not being able to see it, and of not being able to stare into his own eyes…The inventor of the mirror poisoned the human heart.
— F. Pessoa

    Daunting words to hear as I start to think about all of the human grievances conceived with this demon of hyper self-awareness. Psychological complexes, insecurity issues, and could the endlessly superficial desire to perpetuate materialism also have a mirror as its root? If we were to distill happiness down to something that comes from within, from the heart, then yes, for all of the former ailments and conditions stem from a yearning to relieve something that we think our image is lacking. 

    The psychological effect of the mirror has seldom granted the beholder good wishes. Knowing what other faces and bodies look like, it’s easy to fall into fits of comparison and subsequent inadequacy. Yet the archetype of beauty that we hold as a barometer is a strange thing; it’s absolute mediocrity. Symmetry isn’t uniquely special, it’s just absolute. A beautiful face is simply even with all of its centimeters following the original formula. (A block of wood is also even, but drift wood is way more interesting.) A mirror doesn’t only stop to display comparative hardware flaws either, it swiftly indicates nuances of change to which only the projector of the reflection is privy. A small blemish, a pimple, wrinkles. These things start to weigh down the psyche with avalanche force when all they are, are organic indicators of one of the largest organs living and breathing and exhibiting the state of flux it’s always in. The results of such sightseeing experiments could, and many times do, lead to severe trauma. I can’t count how many days I spent absentmindedly fixated on a zit or blemish when I couldn’t even see or do anything about the damn thing. Those days would have been far more enjoyable had I not been cursed by the seductive touch of the mirror, which I expect to sing my praises every morning. 

   Could it be that mirrors also taint interpersonal relations, specifically intimate ones? Pessoa mentions it being sinister to see one’s own face, connoting evil. The inverse would be love, justifying the reference of the heart in the quote. Love, by broad-spectrum definition, is when one is emotionally in the thralls of another. The world and the self become secondary before the splendor of the aforementioned and when it is reciprocated proportionately, voila, love. 

    When one starts to compare themselves in physical appearance to assure safety within a relationship, things quickly go awry. Men don’t usually compare themselves with other men, and only a few times have I worried, "Damn, I hope my girl doesn’t get swept off her feet by that ripped hunk." I also believe those were the only times I used the word hunk. On the other hand (and speaking from personal experience) women can sometimes exacerbate kindling paranoia to drastic size stressing that their partner may fall for another. (I speak only of the external and that which registers on the visual spectrum. People are emotionally vast and the complexities are limitless. I dare not explore that rabbit hole here) I can only conclude the distrust in this case comes from feelings of inadequacy of one’s physical appearance and an acute awareness of body image. For if the comparison was carried out with a lesser attractive antagonist passing one's lover, the results would differ drastically. Ladies, drop the mirror mirror on the wall! It does you only harm! These poisonous thoughts will cripple you and then consume your relations. Guys, hit the gym. 

    The worst is when people compare their self-worth to others by observation of attire or bodyweight. This is a lowly low and I won’t get into the disgusting psycho-dynamics of, "Oh my god, did you see what she was wearing?" I’ll leave that one for you to just acknowledge. PROTIP: if you know people like this, weed these pernicious beings out of your life.

The Hall of Mirrors - Versaille

The Hall of Mirrors - Versaille

Furthermore, a mirror has the power to fabricate a void in our lives that we so desperately try to fill. I would rather say it has the ability to stimulate the mind to create that fictional void. Our appraisal of appearance becomes based on external objects that become the fixation points of our desires and ultimately the source, no matter how illusory, of our happiness. Flashy things are used as mechanisms to mask insecurities and materialism transmutes into homeopathy; but the diagnoses is a false-positive - you were whole from the very beginning. Oh why did you have to see yourself? 

   To bemoan, it may be extreme to say that "the inventor of the mirror poisoned the human heart", but wouldn’t the world be a bit more sincere if we acknowledge this affliction? 

(As a quick side note; working in the modeling industry, i’ve been in the midst of what are considered to be the most beautiful women in the world - individuals that bring my entirety into a stupor. And yet, some of these girls are part in large the most insecure people I have met. They are hyper-aware of themselves, unwittingly creating a plethora of worries that leaves them crippled with disquiet. I feel a huge sorrow because there is little I can do to help, even if the remedy is readily apparent. No matter what words are uttered, they go back into a world that holds a mirror up to their face that either says, "Yes, you are good enough" or "No. Goodbye". 

We must understand that if we are to continue to live in a world in which these mirrors exist, we can’t forget they are constantly morphing and distorting the "ideal" reflection. The mirror has become subjective. No one will ever be beautiful enough with such a flippant standard of measure. But with all relative terms in hand, no one will be truly ugly either.)