Last week, we posted a great article about Kjerstin Gruys and her blog, Mirror Mirror off the Wall. Gruys, a PhD student in the Sociology Department at UCLA, conducts research examining how physical appearance relates to social inequality. With a great deal of corporate “real life” experience to serve as the base of her research, she’s been researching on some pretty provocative phenomenon! Gruys’s master’s thesis examined the experiences of women working in a women’s “plus-size” clothing store. And her PhD dissertation examines clothing size standards in the fashion industry with body size standards in the medical field. Pretty cool, huh?
Gruys decided, on March 26th 2011, to swear of mirrors for a year! While that’s pretty BOLD, in and of itself, there’s one BIG catch: her wedding is on October 1st of this year! That means that, not only will she be avoiding the everyday events of putting her makeup on, checking her appearance, and fixing her hair, but pivotal points in her wedding planning will also be a bit more challenging. Just think about preparing for a wedding without looking at your hair, makeup, and dress! The confidence needed to walk down an aisle amongst dozens of onlookers alone, is incredible. Imagine how terrifying it might be without the assurance of a quick glance in the mirror!
Gruys sat down to answer a few of our questions, this past week:
Bold Magazine: OK, Kjerstin, how do you plan to swear off mirrors for a full year, especially those other than your own?
Kjerstin Gruys: I cover the mirrors in my home, and avoid looking at my reflection in public places. No window shopping! And I look down at my hands when i wash up in public restrooms.
BM: Can you tell us a bit about your interesting research?
KG: I conduct research about our beauty culture, and how it relates to social inequality. Most people recognize that women are held to unreasonable, and often unhealthy, standards for appearance. This relates to gender inequality, but also racial and class inequality! Most of my specific research projects investigate concepts of body size in the fashion industry. For example, my dissertation project will examine clothing size standards in the U.S. fashion industry.
BM: Do you plan on incorporating your mirror-less stance into your research?
KG: No, this is separate from my academic work. Both are important to me, but the blog is a different kind of project… more fun, more personal, more accessible to non-academic readers.
BM: How do you think you’ll feel when you finally DO look at a mirror?
KG: Hopefully I’ll feel like I’m greeting an old friend, who I haven’t seen in a while.
BM: Your confidence is so evident with your idea to step away from the mirror. How did you develop this confidence?
KG: I’ve always been a fairly confident and often outspoken person. I think my parents cultivated a sense of responsibility in me, for speaking up if something doesn’t seem right or fair. When I was in kindergarden I was sent to the principal’s office for telling my [very mean] teacher that she needed to “learn how to treat children with respect!”. The teacher obviously didn’t like it, but my parents said, “you know, she’s got a point!”
BM: Kjerstin, can you show our readers your bold?
KG: I think that my passion for writing honestly about an important women’s issue makes me unique and beautiful. I also really love my hands!
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