Avoiding mirrors for Lent helps two women feel freer

| April 25, 2014 | 0 Comments
Angela Deeney

Angela Deeney

Throughout Lent, Angela Deeney avoided mirrors and reflective surfaces. The University of St. Thomas senior was featured in a March 13 Catholic Spirit article about her Lenten project that inspired a website and blog (paintthemirrors.com), and invoked others to join her in “redefining beauty.”

Rachelle De la Cruz, a graduate student at the University of St. Thomas, followed suit after overhearing Deeney talk about her “Paint the Mirrors” project. Both women share their experience in the Q&A below.

How was the experience?

Deeney: I built new habits. I feel like this 40 days was a good chunk of time because I’ve been able to go through the process of [being] excited [that] I’m starting a new challenge . . . to getting to the point of [not] thinking about looking in that mirror. I’ve been able to live my life the way I normally would, but with more freedom.

Rachelle De la Cruz

Rachelle De la Cruz

De la Cruz: I’ve learned a lot about how much I look in the mirror. To be able to catch myself doing those things. . . I’m wasting a lot of time worrying about it. I think it’s much deeper than just seeing yourself as beautiful — it’s seeing yourself as an eternal soul who needs to be moved in a direction toward greatness.

What is your definition of beauty? Has it changed?

Deeney: Beauty really encompasses the whole person, body and soul. I see beauty as equated with dignity, rather than beauty being outward appearance. I still desire affirmation, and I still want to know that I look good, and all of that. It’s not that desire for affirmation that’s bad, but it’s just where I’m choosing to get that affirmation from — am I choosing to get it from people, or am I choosing to get that from God?

De la Cruz: I think beauty is the glorification of God. Beauty is an ambiguous term, like love, but we all are moved by it. I think being more open to what that actually means is where the redefining comes in.

What part has God played in this?

Deeney: There’s been inspiring stories — people have told me their stories of beauty in the midst of accidents, in the midst of disability, in the midst of trauma. And so, beauty takes many forms, and I don’t think I would have seen that if he wasn’t there.

De la Cruz: I’ve learned what it means to be faithful to something and to trust that there’s going to be an outcome that’s fruitful . . . trusting that the Lord is going to transform me in a way that I didn’t expect to be transformed.

How can you encourage others to look past society’s definition of beauty to see themselves as God sees them?

Deeney: [We need to ask:] What do we surround ourselves by? What magazines are we reading? What shows are we watching? Does this increase my self-confidence, or decrease it? So, first drawing awareness to that. I’m hoping women will start countering those lies with truths. It’s making a conscious effort to actually change your mindset regarding beauty.

De la Cruz: I think there’s a lot to say about transforming the culture and going away from using certain idols to define what beauty is and just trying to see it for ourselves.

How will you carry this through?

Deeney: What’s been really beautiful is I feel like this Paint the Mirrors thing has tapped into something bigger. I know [God] is the author of this, and it will go wherever he wants it to go. I plan to blog on a regular basis. I hope it will reach a lot of different people.

De la Cruz: Being able to reflect on what I’m doing just really brought to light that there’s such a disconnect of who we want to be and who we really are already. Even though we see ourselves in the mirror, or we get compliments or we compare ourselves to others, we forget that there’s something beyond our interpretation that we’re beautiful. So I try to bring that dialogue more into my conversation [with others]. I’m still praying how [the experience] can be translated in an evangelistic way.

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