Jazlyn Valentin

When we think of mirrors, we subconsciously think of reflections; as I look into a mirror, I see myself, my reflection. If I raise my hand, the person staring back at me also raises their hand. We expect that mirrors show us who we are, that the reflection projected on the 24 by 36-inch frame is how the world views us. But it’s not. That reflection is warped. Tainted. The mirror only reveals what is on the outside, not the inside. It’s up to us to look beyond it and reflect on who we are. 

The power in which mirrors held over my life and conscience began when I became aware of my insecurities. My confidence was stripped away from me as my timid self walked through the doors into high school. When I looked in the mirror, I wasn’t satisfied with what I saw. My natural, curly hair looked different than the straight hair everyone else seemed to have. The girl staring back at me in the mirror had curls sticking out in all the wrong places. I saw her pick up a straightener, denying the voice in her head that told her to put it down.

I would wake up almost two hours before school started yet felt crammed with time. I took about 85% of that time just trying to figure out what to wear. I tried on one outfit: it fits too tight. It doesn’t hug my curves the right way. My bust looks too big. I ripped the fabric off me and yanked another outfit from my closet: it fits too big. It doesn’t hug my curves at all. I look like a box. My bust looks nonexistent. I saw the girl in the mirror tell her mother that she wasn’t hungry for breakfast, ignoring the voice in her head telling her that she hadn’t eaten in over 24 hours. 

The chunk of glass stuck to my wall prevented me from accelerating in my life. I let my reflection dictate how I lived. However, I realized that the girl staring back at me wasn’t me. The girl on the other side was me. Mirrors reveal the reflection we need to have within ourselves. I discovered that if I wasn’t satisfied with the person in front of me when I looked through the clear glass, I needed to change something inside to see it reflect on the outside. 

I stopped straightening my hair consecutively during my junior year. My curly hair is a part of my ethnic and cultural identity–it’s a part of who I am. When I look into the mirror and see my curls, I smile at my natural beauty. I stopped trying pernicious diets. My body is the shell protecting my beautiful heart. I look into the mirror and smile at the kindness and goodwill that now shines after shading it with my appearance. 

Confidence and self-assuredness are the first steps to success and happiness, and it is all possible if we just look beyond the glass.