Missing Mirrors

The question this time is “You wake up one morning to a world without mirrors.” How does your life change?

What would I do if there were no mirrors in the world? The sudden loss of mirrors the world over would make me wonder what pretentious independent film I’d wandered into, but I don’t think that’s what the question is meant to ask.

I think that this time I’ll examine the motive for exploring the idea of a world without mirrors. Is it because the world would no longer have its obsession with appearances? No. That doesn’t work at all. If you can’t see yourself, it doesn’t change the fact that people can see each other. That’s where the concern about appearance comes from. You can’t solve that by smashing mirrors. You can only solve that by blinding the world’s population. That’s why we blame the mirrors instead of the eyes. We can smash mirrors and feel superior to the world that put them there. We can’t take away a person’s sight without cruelty. We certainly can’t take away everyone’s sight without it.

The motive for the missing mirrors isn’t as pure as it seems. The question seems intended to provide the opportunity to eliminate appearances or at least our worries about them. That sounds right, but I have to wonder if there isn’t hidden vanity in it.

I’m about to go comic book on you, but the example is valid. When I read the question about missing mirrors, the character who leaped to mind was Doctor Doom. In his royal castle in Latveria, there are no mirrors. Doctor Doom does not allow them in his home. The reason is because he does not want to see his own reflection. He was once a handsome young man, but then a tragic accident left him scarred and hideous. So, no mirrors. What’s more, he hides his face under a mask. He’s not like a supervillain who doesn’t want his identity known. He is a head of state. Everyone knows who Victor Von Doom is. He hides his face because he doesn’t want it seen. He even hides the mask in a way. It’s a metal mask, a part of a suit of armor, but he never takes the mask off when anyone can see him. The armor is an excuse to hide himself. The mask and the destruction of mirrors is not freedom from vanity. It is shame that arises from vanity.

I am not Doctor Doom. I am not afraid of my reflection. I’m not afraid of the hair loss, the grey hairs in my beard, or any other sign of aging. I’m not worried that I’m not Tom Cruise. I’ve never worried about that. I do want to make myself presentable though. So I need mirrors. I don’t need them for vanity. I need them so that I can trim my nose hairs. That’s not vanity; it’s self respect. In a way it’s also respect for the world. When you see someone who is entirely shabby and unkempt, you don’t think to yourself, “Now there’s someone with a lot of self respect.” Mirrors serve a purpose. Appearances exist. You can’t eliminate that, nor should you. Let us live past our appearances, but we can not ignore them. Have no fear of the mirror.


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