Mirror, Mirror Off the Wall: How I Learned to Love My Body by Not Looking at It for a Year

Mirror, Mirror Off the Wall: How I Learned to Love My Body by Not Looking at It for a Year

4.6 5
by Kjerstin Gruys
     
 

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A scholar and bride-to-be spends a year without mirrors to get a better view of what really matters

When Kjerstin Gruys became engaged, she was thrilled—until it was time to shop for a wedding dress. Having overcome an eating disorder years before, Gruys found herself struggling to maintain a positive self-image; so she decided to refocus her

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Overview

A scholar and bride-to-be spends a year without mirrors to get a better view of what really matters

When Kjerstin Gruys became engaged, she was thrilled—until it was time to shop for a wedding dress. Having overcome an eating disorder years before, Gruys found herself struggling to maintain a positive self-image; so she decided to refocus her attention. Mirror, Mirror Off the Wall charts Gruys’s awakening as she vows to give up mirrors and other reflective surfaces, relying on friends and her fiancé to help her gauge both her appearance and outlook on life. The result? A renewed focus on what truly matters, regardless of smeared makeup or messy hair. With humorous and poignant scenes from Gruys’ life, Mirror, Mirror Off the Wall sparks important conversations about body image and reclaiming the power to define beauty.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Honest, heartfelt and quirky.”
The Boston Globe
 
“This book should be required reading for those women who struggle with body-image issues—and even those who don’t.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A funny, provocative memoir.”
People (3.5/4 stars)

Praise for Mirror, Mirror off the Wall:

"Honest, heartfelt and quirky" – The Boston Globe
 
“Brave and inspiring… Gruys admits to her all-too-human insecurities and describes her sometimes-difficult effort to live life without defining herself through beauty.  Her story encourages others to do the same.  This book should be required reading for those women who struggle with body-image issues—and even those who don’t.”  – Publishers Weekly, starred review
 
“A funny, provocative memoir.” – People magazine (3.5/4 stars)

“Kjerstin Gruys writes with honesty, insight, and humor about her struggle to maintain sanity and self-confidence in a world where women are besieged with messages about the importance of beauty and image. Kjerstin’s story will speak to anyone who is seeking to make peace with what she sees in the mirror and discover her own inner beauty.”
—Peggy Orenstein, New York Times bestselling author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter
 
“Kjerstin turns her thoughtful gaze to the complex nature of feminism and beauty in this gripping memoir.  I couldn't put this book down—as I flipped through page after page, I found myself nodding along with Kjerstin's astute observations. It's high time we stop picking ourselves apart and start focusing on what really matters: something deep inside, beyond what any mirror can reflect.”
—Caitlin Boyle, author of Operation Beautiful: Transforming the Way You See Yourself One Post-It Note at a Time
 
"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
 
“Would you have the courage to give up looking in the mirror for a year—including your wedding day? Kjerstin Gruys did, and in doing so, learned to question her assumptions about appearance, trust, feminism, and the wedding-industrial complex, all of which she shares in this thought-provoking and honest account of her year without mirrors.”
 —Lynn Peril, author of Pink Think: Becoming a Woman in Many Uneasy Lessons
 
“The body issues, the issues about having body issues, the balancing act of genuine self-care: Kjerstin Gruys, quite simply, gets it. Glimpses of her interior life were articulated so honestly and with such precision that at times I felt like I was in her head—or, more accurately, that she was in mine, and that of every woman who has ever looked in the mirror and seen not how we look, but how we feel. Without offering an easy solution to the anything-but-easy body image concerns that plague so many women, this book functions as a model of possibilities of what might happen if we looked more critically at our body narratives.” —Autumn Whitefield-Madrano, founder and editor of The Beheld
 
"In Mirror, Mirror off the Wall, Kjerstin Gruys lets us in on a fascinating social experiment. Combining smart, insightful research on body image and the politics of appearance with deep honesty about her own personal struggles, Gruys is a great guide through the sometimes funny, sometimes treacherous waters of women and appearance. By describing her year of looking away from mirrors she helps us turn our attention toward deeper, more meaningful, and more enduring sources of beauty."
—Lynne Gerber, author of Seeking the Straight and Narrow: Weight Loss and Sexual Reorientation in Evangelical America
 
“Through Gruys' thought-provoking storytelling, the cerebral reader and the lover of self-help books will find satisfaction in this unique memoir. For many years, I have personally witnessed women and girls being torn apart by our culture's desire for them to fit someone else's idea of ‘perfect.’ Kjerstin wrested herself from this peril and has lived to tell about her journey to the center of herself. Kjerstin lived in the gray areas of uncertainty as she uncovered important truths — not just for herself, but for women living in mainstream society. Every woman — of every age and background — can learn something profoundly meaningful about herself from Kjerstin's desire to separate herself from appearance obsession.”
—Jennifer Berger, executive director of About-Face
 
“Kjerstin Gruys holds a critical mirror up to weight prejudice, revealing how it distorts our lives and our society. Her year-long experiment and powerful insights point the way for people of all sizes to reject such distortions in favor of already-available fabulousness.”
—Marilyn Wann, author of Fat!so?: Because You Don’t Have to Apologize for Your Size

“Kjerstin Gruys has written a frank, intimate and entertaining account of how she tried to overcome her body image insecurities by not looking at herself in a mirror for a year. Interspersing this personal account with insights from sociology and psychology research, Gruys shows how her own struggles are taking place within a broader social context, thereby holding up a mirror to contemporary American society. Highly recommended for anyone who has felt herself peering a bit too intently in the mirror.”
—Abigail C. Saguy, author of What’s Wrong with Fat?

Publishers Weekly
In this brave and inspiring work, Gruys challenges long-held cultural cues about female beauty. After recovering from an eating disorder, the author set out to show—guided by her volunteer work at About Face, a San Francisco nonprofit organization, and her pursuit of a Ph.D. in sociology at U.C.L.A.—that true beauty is anything but skin deep. She vowed to not look in a mirror—or any reflective surface—for a year, and to document how this decision affected the way she related to her fiancé and to the world at large, writing a blog about the experience to keep herself accountable. Gruys’s project is especially admirable given that her wedding occurred during the year in question (and weddings have been known to make even the most humble woman become image-obsessed). Gruys admits to her all-too-human insecurities and describes her sometimes-difficult effort to live life without defining herself through beauty. Her story encourages others to do the same. This book should be required reading for those women who struggle with body-image issues—and even those who don’t. (May)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781583335482
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
07/01/2014
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
598,554
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.97(h) x 0.89(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
Praise for Mirror, Mirror off the Wall:

"Honest, heartfelt and quirky" – The Boston Globe
 
“Brave and inspiring… Gruys admits to her all-too-human insecurities and describes her sometimes-difficult effort to live life without defining herself through beauty.  Her story encourages others to do the same.  This book should be required reading for those women who struggle with body-image issues—and even those who don’t.”  – Publishers Weekly, starred review
 
“A funny, provocative memoir.” – People magazine (3.5/4 stars)

“Kjerstin Gruys writes with honesty, insight, and humor about her struggle to maintain sanity and self-confidence in a world where women are besieged with messages about the importance of beauty and image. Kjerstin’s story will speak to anyone who is seeking to make peace with what she sees in the mirror and discover her own inner beauty.”
—Peggy Orenstein, New York Times bestselling author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter
 
“Kjerstin turns her thoughtful gaze to the complex nature of feminism and beauty in this gripping memoir.  I couldn't put this book down—as I flipped through page after page, I found myself nodding along with Kjerstin's astute observations. It's high time we stop picking ourselves apart and start focusing on what really matters: something deep inside, beyond what any mirror can reflect.”
—Caitlin Boyle, author of Operation Beautiful: Transforming the Way You See Yourself One Post-It Note at a Time
 
"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
 
“Would you have the courage to give up looking in the mirror for a year—including your wedding day? Kjerstin Gruys did, and in doing so, learned to question her assumptions about appearance, trust, feminism, and the wedding-industrial complex, all of which she shares in this thought-provoking and honest account of her year without mirrors.”
 —Lynn Peril, author of Pink Think: Becoming a Woman in Many Uneasy Lessons
 
“The body issues, the issues about having body issues, the balancing act of genuine self-care: Kjerstin Gruys, quite simply, gets it. Glimpses of her interior life were articulated so honestly and with such precision that at times I felt like I was in her head—or, more accurately, that she was in mine, and that of every woman who has ever looked in the mirror and seen not how we look, but how we feel. Without offering an easy solution to the anything-but-easy body image concerns that plague so many women, this book functions as a model of possibilities of what might happen if we looked more critically at our body narratives.” —Autumn Whitefield-Madrano, founder and editor of The Beheld
 
"In Mirror, Mirror off the Wall, Kjerstin Gruys lets us in on a fascinating social experiment. Combining smart, insightful research on body image and the politics of appearance with deep honesty about her own personal struggles, Gruys is a great guide through the sometimes funny, sometimes treacherous waters of women and appearance. By describing her year of looking away from mirrors she helps us turn our attention toward deeper, more meaningful, and more enduring sources of beauty."
—Lynne Gerber, author of Seeking the Straight and Narrow: Weight Loss and Sexual Reorientation in Evangelical America
 
“Through Gruys' thought-provoking storytelling, the cerebral reader and the lover of self-help books will find satisfaction in this unique memoir. For many years, I have personally witnessed women and girls being torn apart by our culture's desire for them to fit someone else's idea of ‘perfect.’ Kjerstin wrested herself from this peril and has lived to tell about her journey to the center of herself. Kjerstin lived in the gray areas of uncertainty as she uncovered important truths — not just for herself, but for women living in mainstream society. Every woman — of every age and background — can learn something profoundly meaningful about herself from Kjerstin's desire to separate herself from appearance obsession.”
—Jennifer Berger, executive director of About-Face
 
“Kjerstin Gruys holds a critical mirror up to weight prejudice, revealing how it distorts our lives and our society. Her year-long experiment and powerful insights point the way for people of all sizes to reject such distortions in favor of already-available fabulousness.”
—Marilyn Wann, author of Fat!so?: Because You Don’t Have to Apologize for Your Size

“Kjerstin Gruys has written a frank, intimate and entertaining account of how she tried to overcome her body image insecurities by not looking at herself in a mirror for a year. Interspersing this personal account with insights from sociology and psychology research, Gruys shows how her own struggles are taking place within a broader social context, thereby holding up a mirror to contemporary American society. Highly recommended for anyone who has felt herself peering a bit too intently in the mirror.”
—Abigail C. Saguy, author of What’s Wrong with Fat?

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Meet the Author

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.

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Mirror, Mirror off the Wall: How I Learned to Love My Body by Not Looking at It for a Year 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
MidMod More than 1 year ago
I've been waiting for this book to come out since I'm a fan of the author's blog.  I thought it might be a collection of some of her most popular blog posts but it was so much more!  I'm recommending this book to every woman I know.  With the bright pink cover you might think it's a girly girl fluff piece, but So. Not. True.  The author presents some interesting research along with her entertaining story about shunning mirrors for a year.  Really made me think about the beauty culture and the impact it has on the self-esteem of young girls and women of all ages.  A really great story that held my interest throughout and made me laugh out loud a couple times too!    
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was bought for me by my boyfriend. I havent read it all. I am getting through it and finding it incredibly hard to set down. I want to read constantly. This book left me feeling inspired to get a grip on my own body image and start looking at subjects presented in this more closely. I love that this book is relatable and easy to read yet you can tell she was an educated women who is human and struggles like everyone else. I have since looked in the mirror and really looked hard at what I look like. I am a beautiful woman, I am strong, and I refuse to look in the mirror with negative thoughts about my body. After all, Kjrestin Gruys reminded me that the body is an amazing thing....it does incredible things like hug, make art and play sports. I will be recommending this to everyone I know.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Initially interesting,but i expected much more insight. There are way too many elaborate details of clothes shopping forays; it made me wonder if she is being compensated for naming her favorite stores. I appreciate the effort it took to successfully achieve her goal, but the ubiquitous references to her drinking and fashion obsession became boring. Considering her credentials, i expected something more substantial. If you are not a shopaholic party girl you may feel the same way.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago