The word ‘reflection’ can mean so many different things and provoke many different emotions within someone. As a teacher, I would strongly encourage the children to reflect on their work, their learning or their behaviour. What have they learnt; how have they learnt it; how can this help them in the future. While I may preach this to my class, I find it hard to reflect on my actions and behaviours although this is something I am trying more recently to improve on.
I like reflecting back on old memories, from my childhood, or my late teens/early twenties when, looking back, I realise I was fun and relatively carefree. I’m a fan of Timehop or the Facebook equivalent (whatever-its-called) where I am reminded annually of past experiences which often bring back happy memories, which otherwise I might have forgotten.
(It’s also one of my favourite Disney songs from Mulan!)
One of Annabelle’s favourite things to do is admire her reflection in the mirror. She knows where different mirrors are around the house and will squeal in excitment in anticipation of catching a glimpse of herself as she approaches. In some of her books, there are often mirrors incorporated into pages, or under a flap, and many of her toys have small mirrors within them. She’ll always beam away at her own reflection and then give herself a little slobbery kiss before she moves onto something else. My phone background is a picture of Annabelle, and every time she sees it, she lets out this little squeal-like giggle and looks up at me as if to say “Look Mummy, look how cute I am!”
Obviously one of our favourite things to do is to watch Annabelle. We admire her beauty; her beautiful bright blue eyes, her perfectly formed lips, her gorgeous cheeks that seem to look even more squidgy when she concentrates, her tiny ears, her cute button nose, her perfect profile, the gorgeous curls in her hair…we could stare at her all day and the list could go on! In our eyes, she is just perfect, and has been since the day she was born. And judging by her reaction to her own reflection, seemingly, Annabelle is also happy with how she looks!
In contrast to this, when I look at my reflection as I hurriedly attempt to smear some make up on my face, I’ll immediately pick out my flaws. My skin’s looking patchy today. I’ve got another spot brewing…c’mon, I’m 30! When do they go away?! Serious plucking required…I’ll do it tomorrow. My hair frizz has reached new levels and is now deemed untameable. If I catch a glimpse of myself in the shop window as I’m rushing past, I’ll cringe at the size of myself, realising my clothes don’t look half as flattering on me in person as they look on the hanger. I’m absolutely certain that I’m not the only one who does this, but it still doesn’t make it any easier as I attempt to clobber together a look that hopefully translates to others that at least I’ve tried to make an effort.
I’m not someone who is too hung up on my own looks (as you can probably tell!) so I don’t particularly care if I’m looking a bit pale or my nails go unpainted for months, and I’m absolutely not a fan of the evolving culture of posey selfies – there, I’ve said it! As long as I’ve managed to put some clothes on, made some effort to tame the ‘just-rolled-out-of-bed’ look, and look fairly respectable, then generally I’m happy. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy painting my nails and treating myself to eye liner and a splash of lipstick when the occasion presents itself, but I can live without it.
But watching Annabelle look at herself over the last few months as she’s exploring and self-discovering, it’s made me reflect on how I view my reflection. And how many people, particularly women, view themselves as they grow up. Annabelle is obviously at the stage where she just loves to look at herself and smile as she admires her reflection. And I hope that she never grows out of this stage, I hope she always appreciates how beautiful she is, how her smile lights up a room and how her eyes sparkle when she gets excited. But I’m sure my mother used to think the same about me, and now I pick holes in my own appearance at every glance in the mirror. I’ve decided I need to look at myself in a more positive light, not to be vain or boastful, but to simply appreciate and recognise the good instead of focussing on the bad (and the ugly!)
Annabelle has beauty in her face, oozing out of her personality and even written into her name! And as I view the world more through her eyes now, I feel I owe it to her to begin to hold a higher opinion of myself and value my areas of strength and beauty, both inside and out. I always want her to recognise her infinite beauty and worth, and I know I need to be a good role model to her.