How I Learned to Love My Body by Not Looking at It for a Year
By Kjerstin Gruys
When Kjerstin Gruys became engaged to the love of her life, she was thrilled - until it came time to shop for a wedding dress. Having overcome an eating disorder years before, Gruys found herself struggling to maintain a positive self-image as her pending nuptials imposed a new set of impossible beauty standards. She decided to embark on a bold plan for boosting her self-esteem while refocusing her attention on the beautiful world around her.
A memoir of discovery, Mirror Mirror Off the Wall charts Gruys' awakening as she vows to give up mirrors and other reflective surfaces, relying instead on her friends and her fiancé to help her gauge both her appearance and her outlook on life. The result? A renewed focus on what truly matters, regardless of smeared makeup, crooked eyebrows, or messy hair.
In the honest, witty, self-aware voice that has made her blog so popular, Gruys explores what it means to be a feminist in a society where femininity is subject to destructive ideals of beauty and sex appeal. Having worked in the fashion industry before becoming a sociologist, Gruys draws on her frontline expertise to explore the gender inequities created by society's obsession with a flawless female body image. Putting a human face on an important issue with humorous and poignant scenes from Gruys' life, Mirror Mirror off the Wall sparks important conversations about body image and reclaiming the power to redefine beauty.
"Starred Review. This book should be required reading for those women who struggle with body-image issues - and even those who don't." - Publishers Weekly
"Kjerstin nimbly deconstructs the internal struggle between the desire to accept ourselves and the desire to be accepted by others. Her story is an important reminder that what we see in the mirror is not just our reflection but a reflection of the society in which we live." - Golda Poretsky, author of Stop Dieting Now: 25 Reasons To Stop, 25 Ways To Heal
"Gruys is an engaging, empathetic, and insightful storyteller, and her story needs to be heard. In a world full of conflicting messages about women's beauty and worth, it can be difficult to trust our own feelings about our bodies. Her year-long experiment illustrates how unchecked self-scrutiny can aggravate existing body-image issues, and how mirrors often play multiple roles in a woman's interior life. The media machine instructs women to control and monitor appearance at all costs, but Gruys shows us that there is freedom in letting go." - Sally McGraw, author of Already Pretty: Learning to Love Your Body By Learning to Dress it Well
"Mirror Mirror off the Wall is not just about Kjerstin Gruy's 365 day mirror-less odyssey. It's also about the psychological cataclysm that results when So-Cal bride meets feminist sociologist inside the mind and heart of the same person. Gruys grapples with the ubiquitous wedding 'shoulds' and puts her own body image advocacy to the ultimate test. She emerges with powerful lessons about trust, friendship, love, and being at peace with your own body." - Cynthia Bulik, Ph.D., FAED, Director, University of North Carolina Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders
"Mirror, Mirror off the Wall is an engaging and entertaining read. Kjerstin Gruys strikes the perfect balance between much-needed social criticism and honest self-reflection. Gruys reminds us that in an image-obsessed society, something as small as looking in a mirror - or not - can be a political act." - Natalie Boero, Ph.D., author of Killer Fat: Media, Medicine, and Morals in the American Obesity Epidemic
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Kjerstin Gruys has served as a market researcher and merchant in the fashion industry and is now a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Sociology at UCLA. Her research focuses on the relationship between gender inequality and beauty standards. She is also a longtime volunteer at About-Face, a San Francisco nonprofit that helps women resist media messages that harm self-esteem.
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