Women turn their backs on mirrors to ease constant pressure of having to look good

Women turn their backs on mirrors to ease constant pressure of having to look good 'Mirror fasting' said to help improve body image and take focus off appearancePsychologists say it may have reverse effect as it is another way of obsessing about body image

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UPDATED:

22:11 GMT, 19 August 2012

Women fed up with the constant pressure to look good are embracing a new trend – ‘mirror fasting’.

They are trying to avoid the obsession with youth and beauty by not looking at their reflections for anything from a few days to a year.

Participants avoid reflections in shop windows, wing mirrors and even mobile phones – and those who try it report feeling liberated.

Followers of 'mirror-fasting' believe it helps improve body image and take focus from obsessing about appearance and looks

Followers of 'mirror-fasting' believe it helps improve body image and take focus from obsessing about appearance and looks

The trend is believed to have started,
inevitably, in the United States where New York beauty writer Autumn
Whitefield Madrano, 36, tried it for a month last year and wrote about
her experience.

She said
she realised she had developed a ‘mirror face’, sucking in her cheeks
and posing when she looked at herself, and added: ‘It made me feel
really vain.’

Miss Madrano went on: ‘I wanted to see how much my mood was affected by the way I perceived my looks.

‘I
was surprised at how quickly I stopped worrying about how I looked,
and if I wasn’t thinking about it

Miss Jones, may I have a quiet word about your mirror fasting

Miss Jones, may I have a quiet word about your mirror fasting

I assumed no one else was either,
which is actually true.’

She
did not shun mirrors entirely, however. Miss Madrano allowed herself a
hand mirror so she could apply her eye make-up and put a piece of paper
over another mirror so she could style her hair occasionally without
seeing her reflection.

Miss Madrano has since completed another month-long ‘mirror fast’ and hopes to do it annually.

She
said: ‘It’s my way of checking in with myself, to remind myself that I
don’t need to know how I look every minute to be a fully functional,
capable human being.’

Sociology
graduate Kjerstin Gruys, 29, spent the year before her wedding
avoiding mirrors after overcoming an eating disorder and fearing that
her insecurities were returning.

She said: ‘I’ve managed to better separate my looks from my self-esteem.

This is probably the most powerful secret to feeling beautiful.’

But Dr Phillippa Diedrichs, a
psychologist at the Centre for Appearance Research in Bristol, said
‘mirror-fasting’ was another way of obsessing about appearance.

She added: ‘When working with people
who have issues around body image we encourage the “mirror exposure
technique” – to look in the mirror and take a less critical approach.’