“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest one of all?” Almost everyone knows this phrase by heart and which fairy tale it comes from. I often wonder though if this tale of all too simple good vs bad depiction with good winning in the end, carried with it nuances that end up with us struggling for the rest of our lives.
When we look at the mirror, what do we see? What do we say to ourselves? What does the mirror say back to us? Do we smile as we walk away? Or do we frown? Do we get consumed by what we see that it influences our behavior for the rest of the day? Do we become like the evil queen out to get the one person who makes us feel inferior? Do we believe everything that the mirror tells us?
I was recently given a preview copy of a book with a similar premise. The book is entitled “Good Morning, Mirror!” by Jennifer Senne. It tells of a little French bulldog, named Frenchie, and her friend Mirror. It tells of how every day, when she wakes up, she would greet her friend Mirror and they’d spend happy moments together. It tells of how one day, Mirror started becoming negative and in turn Frenchie had a bad day. It tells of how whatever Mirror said seemed to come true. It tells of how Frenchie’s mom noticed the change in her daughter’s behavior and found out about what was happening between Frenchie and Mirror. It tells of how her mom told Frenchie that Mirror just reflected what Frenchie was feeling. It tells of how Frenchie started to see herself in a whole new light and became friends with Mirror again.
As you can probably guess, “Good Morning, Mirror!” is indeed an illustrated children’s book. However, I found it poignant in its simplicity and deep in its message. Imagine if instead of Snow White, we read this book as children? Imagine if as children, we were told that we were good, beautiful, and capable? That we were enough? Imagine if as children, someone guided us on the discipline of positive self-talk? Imagine if as children, we knew how to believe in ourselves? Wouldn’t the world be a much better place? Wouldn’t we be much more capable and happier adults?
Now imagine how the fairy tale Snow White would have changed if only the evil Queen had someone to guide her about what the mirror was really saying. Was the magic mirror just reflecting her insecurities about growing older amidst her stepdaughter growing up? Perhaps, she would’ve seen herself as she was, a beautiful and capable Queen? Perhaps, she wouldn’t have been misguided on what beauty was? And thus, not be too vain and vengeful about it? Perhaps.
Regardless of how the fairy tale would’ve ended, positive self-talk is quite difficult to learn as adults. By the time we reach adulthood, we’d have years of self-inflicted insecurities born out of negative experiences and societal biases. As kids, we sometimes bully each other into believing our own weaknesses and insecurities. For most of us, including myself, we had to struggle thru the pain of realizing that we have to believe in ourselves in order to achieve. We have to realize our worth as individuals, unique in our own strengths and flaws, but nevertheless valuable. And constantly, daily, we must practice this discipline of reminding ourselves that we are great, we are good enough as we are, and that regardless of what lies ahead, we can make it.
What then should we do? Should we throw out our fairy tales and not let our children read those? Maybe not. That’s a parenting decision each one of us must make on our own. But I do suggest, and highly recommend, that we throw in books such as “Good Morning, Mirror!” in our children’s reading lists. Better yet, we should spend time reading this book with them and discuss how positive self-talk and personal belief can make our lives richer and fuller. If we can somehow guide them to be truer and kinder to themselves, to look at the mirror and smile, and be more accepting of who they are… then they can indeed believe and strive with conviction to be who they really are meant to be.
About this post: I was given a preview copy of my friend Jennifer Senne's latest book, "Good Morning, Mirror!" a few days ago. I read it, loved it, and decided to write something about it as its storyline is something we can all learn from.