It’s something you simply cannot miss, when walking down a shopping street or inside a Mall, the number of people who do more than just glance at their reflection in a mirror or shop window. You can see the eyes checking everything that they see, as quickly as possible, trying to make it seem just they’re not really interested, as if it’s only a chance look and nothing more. But we all know it’s more than that, because we all do it too: we check ourselves out. This is what other people see, this is what other people are checking out: do I meet with their approval, or even my own approval, with my appearance?
Photo Source: David Guyler – Creative Commons
We are as much fascinated by our own appearance, not just what we are wearing but our whole self. Is this some form of narcissism, or quite normal? Animals, faced with a mirror or their own reflection, do not react in the same manner. To them – bearing in mind that we are animals too! – their appearance has no bearing on what they are doing or who they are. They do not recognize themselves. We are possibly the only animal – and I include various forms of ape in this since, as we all know, we are descended from the apes – that appreciates its own existence.
The only difference between us and those apes we once were, is that we have to dress up to create our character, assume the stance of a person with taste and fashion sense, and then check to see that we are what we wish to be or, at the very least, give that impression. And even those who claim to have no interest in fashion, in their appearance, in looking good or even presentable, look in that mirror, study – fleetingly – their reflection in that shop window. Human nature, not narcissism.
- Viktoria Michaelis