Trend: ‘Mirror Fasting’ Helps Women Break Image Obsession

WASHINGTON (CBS) — A movement started by female bloggers this past year requires no pause for reflection.

Dubbed ‘mirror fasting,’ the trend recommends that people abstain from staring at their reflection. This includes looking at one’s own image in computer screens, shop windows, and anywhere else a reflection could be glimpsed throughout the day.

Autumn Whitefield-Madrano, a 36-year-old freelance writer based in Queens, New York, told The Observer : “I’d become aware that I had a mirror face.”

“Whenever I saw my reflection I’d open my eyes a little wider, suck in my cheeks a little and tip my chin down in an effort to make myself look more like I wanted to. It made me feel really vain.”

Whitefield-Madrano began her first ‘mirror-fast’ in May 2011 and kept it up for a month, claiming she felt calmer after the experiment, she admitted to The Observer.

A recent study, published in the journal Behaviour Research and Therapy earlier this year, found that women look in the mirror around 38 times every day and men 18 times a day.

Discussion of ‘mirror-fasting’ began in blogs regarding female lifestyle and beauty on websites such as Salon and The Hairpin. The benefit most bloggers found was a boost of confidence and the freedom to escape constant judgment of their own appearance. Most admitted that before the women had spent plenty of time each day checking their nails, makeup, and hair obsessively instead of focusing on their work or other issues involving others.

However Kate Fox, a social anthropologist at the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford, told The Observer that mirror-fasting is just another way of fixating on one’s appearance.

“To me, it smacks of narcissism more than looking in the mirror like a normal person.”

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