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The Science Behind Vanity Mirrors: How They Affect Our Self-Image

If you enter a bathroom, the chances are high that you’ll encounter a vanity mirror there. Vanity mirrors are often situated in bathrooms above the sink. If you engage with one, you will likely see it that swings open to reveal shelves where you can keep medications and other sundries.

You may not be aware that there is a science behind vanity mirrors, though. It’s worth talking about, and we will do so right now.

Vanity Mirrors Reinforce the Sense of Self

Humans are always fascinated by their own reflections. Someone who doesn’t take long to consider might conclude that, as a species, we are vain or conceited. That’s not actually why we like looking at ourselves in the mirror, or rather, that’s not the only reason.

We like to look at ourselves in the mirror frequently because it validates our sense of self. Humans have a strong sense of personal identity that is enforced every time we see ourselves in a reflective surface.

We may like what we see when we look in a mirror, or we may not, but it’s vital that we consistently see the same thing when we look at a reflective surface. That reinforcement puts us on stable ground from a psychological standpoint. Glancing in a mirror to be sure that we look the way each of us anticipates is hardwired into us.

We Want to Check Our Appearance

Of course, all of us also want to look our best when we present ourselves to the public. That’s another reason why vanity mirrors exist. They are there so we can give ourselves a quick once-over before we leave the bathroom.

We want to present the best possible version of ourselves. That applies before we leave the house to run errands or to go to work or school.

We also want to do a quick spot-check before we rejoin our families, though. It might sound vain, but it’s healthy to want to present the best version of yourself that’s possible.

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We Can Test Out Our Facial Expressions

We also test out our facial expressions in the mirror. We tend to do it without even necessarily being aware of it.

When we look into a mirror, we might tighten and loosen the muscles of our cheeks and jaws. We may pull our lips back and expose our teeth. We do that to check for any remnants of dinner that might be lodged between our bicuspids, but we also do it because we want to see what we look like when we make different faces.

When we do so, we’re subconsciously making sure that we like how we appear when we emote in various ways. We’re looking at what the world sees when we smile, frown, or show other common human emotions.

Overall, mirrors in bathrooms exist so we can spruce ourselves up, but they are also there for the psychological reasons we’ve explained. Consider that for a moment the next time you’re in the bathroom washing up.

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