30 Days of Mirror Selfies Might Teach You Something

Sometimes I feel so grateful that I have been able to commercialize a process that so many women count as a hobby — the act of trying on clothes just because — turning it into, at least, a small element of a larger business. I have spent the majority of my life thinking in outfits, putting shit together just to distract myself from otherwise worthless thoughts (e.g. Does anyone not die alone? Etc), and ultimately trying them on as a proof of concept; does this look as good in real life as it did in my imagination?

Starting in November for Consumption Month, I decided that I would chronicle an entire month’s worth of outfits. Canonize them unofficially through the $12.99 Bed Bath & Beyond mirror that hangs from a door that separates my bathroom from my living room. Originally I had this idea because I wanted to capture a month-long challenge wherein I would not wear jeans but incidentally, what I learned over the course of the first few days of the challenge is that I’m not actually over jeans.

What ultimately resulted was a curious exercise in documentation — forcing yourself to remember things you might want to forget, freezing moments and using clothes as the sentences that tell your story.

The timing was unique: I found out about halfway through the month that I’d lose a baby, so I ended up completing the exercise towards the end of December, when I gained enough of my vanity back to start taking photos again.

When I look back, with enough distance from the beginning portion of the photos, I don’t see a cluster of outfits. I see memories underscored by stuff. There is the day my shoe collaboration came out (1) and a set of days whereby I was so bloated, I could only wear leggings (9, 10). The Saturday afternoon (7) I spent eating my way through the West Village because I had nothing else to do (this was so weird: here you beg for peace and quiet, a to-do list-free day, only to find a unique sense of loneliness and lack of purpose when it arrives). The day I got back from Barcelona two days before the trip was supposed to end (on day 11, I left for Spain) because I couldn’t stop throwing up (12), and the night following Trump’s win spent in sequins to deflect reality (13).

I’m so jealous of my smile in 18, this was the last day I was blissfully pregnant. On day 19, in those kneecap leggings and sweater, I went for my last sonogram.

The gap between days 19 and 20 actually spans about two weeks. And the second part of this album is particularly important for me. I can see how defeated I still felt on days 22 to 27. But the light that resumes (which is so nuanced and pale that only I probably see it) on day 29 is a warm reminder that things get better faster than you think they can, or will. Even when you think they won’t. Until I saw this, I didn’t believe I had gotten better at all, but I’m reminded that we are stronger than we think.

The photos that made me jealous of a former me were hard to look at, I’ve really wanted to block them out, but they’re good to have and to see — a sparkling trigger that says I’ll be genuinely, really, honestly happy again. If I had it once, I’ll have it again — while many things are not in my control, feeling happy is completely up to me. You know, some of life’s grandest lessons, the stories we must tell ourselves, pop up in the most ridiculous places, least not being the cheap mirror that you use to take your selfies.

Leandra M. Cohen

Leandra M. Cohen is the founder of Man Repeller.

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