Kjerstin Gruys refuses to look into mirrors for 365 days

Students listening to lecture. (Adrianna Mendoza)

Adrianna Mendoza

Kjerstin Gruys treated Saddleback students to a peek inside of her world without mirrors for a year on Wednesday, Nov. 28 in SSC 212.
Gruys describes her body image journey in a sarcastically charming manner; never faltering in making light of her insecurities.
Gruys admitted to suffering from anorexia during her last years of highschool and her first years of college. Due to her tight-knit relationship with body issues, she decided to give up her career in fashion to study sociology. Gruys explains that she “could not be in a industry that supported emaciation.”
The UCLA sociologist doctoral candidate from St. Louis began her fascinating journey without mirrors during her search for the perfect wedding dress. When bargain shopping at a wedding dress shop in Los Angeles, Gruys felt an immense anger welling inside of her at the fact that the sample size was at a less than normal size, not allowing her to fully zip up the back of her dream dress.
Sometime after this event, Gruys came across a book revolving around nuns who were not able to look at one’s own flesh for as long as they lived. The outlandish idea sparked a light in Gruys‘ mind, “a lifetime without seeing oneself.”
Gruys decided thereon out that her new project was to avoid mirrors for 365 days which included a very important event: her own wedding. Although Gruys bent the rules and was able to view photos of herself on her special day, she still abided by her no-mirror rule.
Her journey was documented in blog posts. She recalls her very first post marking that it was a product of a drunken rant. “I wanted the support of my community but I wasn’t going to give everyone a step-by-step.” According to Gruys the drunken blog was “the beginning of what is now a very public project.”
After a couple of months into her project she realized that she felt more of a calm by not being able to directly see herself in a mirror. She had realized that during her frantic search for a dress to make her beautiful, that she felt trapped. “I was a body-image expert with a body-image problem.”
Gruys spoke of her journey with a sense of gratification and accomplishment which many agree is a worthy consummation.
Saddleback students filled the auditorium to listen and be inspired by Gruys‘ story. Kathryn Snyder, 18, spoke of the talk saying, “I learned how looking in the mirror everyday can really affect you.”
Raquel Terley, 21, psychology, was shocked by Gruys‘ decision to avoid mirrors on her ever-so coveted wedding day. Terley expressed, “I thought it was really interesting especially that she did that during her wedding day … that’s supposed to be the day where you make sure everything is perfect.”
Although she was a bit wary of Gruys‘ decision to include her wedding day in the project, Terley admits that it was daring and inspiring. “I think it’s cool because it just shows that even though she had body issues, and that one day that you would probably want to look in the mirror, she didn’t. She kept going and that made it that much more gratifying.”

For Kjerstin’s blog entries:
For Kjerstin Gruys‘ website:
For Kjerstin’s 20/20 interview:

Body image presentation shown to students. (Adrianna Mendoza)

Discussions on body image lecture. (Adrianna Mendoza)