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The Midlife Mirror Angst Syndrome

2 min read

“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?” said the Evil Queen in the story of Snow White. When we hit our 50s, we all feel a bit like her: sometimes we can’t stop analysing any supposed defects, investing money in superpower serums. In reality, we do not have potions or spells to make us happy and if we become obsessed with the way we look in the mirror, it’s time to face the truth: we have a problem.

The Midlife Mirror Angst Syndrome is a tendency to distort our reflection in our minds until we see defects or magnify the ones we believe we have and it occurs to women in their middle age. In fact, women in their 40s and 50s tend to be the most disenchanted with their bodies: they dislike what they see in the mirror four times more than teenage girls.

According to adult behaviour psychologist Susan Quilliam:

All the studies show that most women reach the peak of their mental, emotional and relationship effectiveness as they reach midlife; having brought up a family, become confident in their jobs, reached a state of wise comfort with their lives, they feel good about the future. Sadly the same can’t be said for their feelings about their bodies. We live in an age where female beauty is defined as young – a definition that has become an obsession in society, and particularly in the media. There’s no psychological underpinning for this, but the fact remains that at midlife, women can feel invisible – or at worst, unattractive. Fashion is aimed at a youthful figure – and the more mature woman can all too often find that she isn’t catered for. Psychologically, the effect is dramatic and demoralising. She feels sidelined, even alienated, by the fact that her appearance does not fit the youthful ‘norm’.

So, how can we overcome mirror disorder?

We have to set aside prejudices and comparisons. We are not better or worse than others, only different. The moment we accept ourselves exactly how we are, we will have the ability to laugh at ourselves and our errors and mistakes, without bothering ourselves about the reflection in the mirror; that is when we are truly balanced and happy people.

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