Sundered Peak

through the mind of kyle tolle

Without Mirrors

Listen to these Readings:

Kyle Tolle reading ‘Without Mirrors’

One of the first things I do when I wake up is look at myself in the mirror.  It’s right there in the bathroom, and I use it after I get out of the shower to put in my contacts and brush my hair.  I use a mirror several times a day, every day.  I’m sure it’s the same for most Americans.

But what would it be like if we had no mirrors?  What was life like before we had mirrors?  Did we have messier hair and non-perfect makeup?  Maybe we relied a little bit more on other people because we couldn’t get our hair just right without someone to help. Men would still commonly use barbers, since it would be difficult to shave yourself.

More deeply though: would we have less an idea of who we are?   Maybe we’d have a more accurate picture without the superficial layer?  Is the way we physically look really that important? Self-awareness is a big issue.  We can tell we exist as individuals by recognizing ourselves.  Babies don’t have that ability though, because it takes time to develop.  The test for this is actually called the “Mirror test”. Few animals have self-awareness, but we’re one of them!

Body image issues are largely a product of culture, but I wonder if women back in the days before mirrors were that concerned with looks.  They could have used still water to see their reflection, I guess.  The Wikipedia page for mirrors shows that the earliest were made around 8000 years ago. That’s a pretty long time back!  So maybe they were invented so long ago because it was important to get a sense of what your face looked like.

What about foreign countries or groups of people who live without our lifestyle and have no mirrors? I wonder if there are any profound differences between how they perceive themselves, other individuals, or groups and how we do the same?  It wouldn’t surprise me to learn an anthropologist has already looked into this.  It would certainly be interesting to see the findings.

I wonder if lovers spend so much time gazing into one another’s eyes because they can see their own reflection there!?

What are your thoughts on the issue? What would life be like without the mirrors. How would it impact you if they were suddenly gone? How does looking into a mirror daily affect your self-perception? Do you like what you see? Do you you hate what you see? Do you not care? Let me know!