Could you go a whole year without looking at yourself in a mirror, or even catching a reflection of yourself in a window? That’s what one woman did to inspire others to find their inner beauty.

Kjerstin Gruys, a 29-year-old sociology PhD student, struggled with an eating disorder in high school, which took a real toll on not only her health, but her self-esteem.

Years of therapy helped her recover, but even after volunteering with About-Face, a San Francisco-based organization that helps women and girls with body-image problems, she found herself being overly self-critical when she was dress-shopping for her upcoming wedding.

“I thought, ‘Well, maybe I should lose a little weight before the wedding,’ always a bad thing to focus on when you have a history of an eating disorder,” she said. “I wasn’t afraid of relapsing … but I felt like a hypocrite because of how far I’d come.”

That’s when Gruys embarked on the ‘Mirror, Mirror Off the Wall’ project, during which she avoided her own reflection for a whole year. “The first month of the project … when I was walking out the door … it was maybe a 50-50 shot that I had mascara on my nose,” she wryly recalled.

But she adapted, and her experiment worked. When it was over, she said, “I had a little ambivalence, and at the same time, pleasure, because I was happy with what I saw.”

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