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Girl Before a Mirror

A print of this painting, Picasso’s “Girl Before a Mirror,” is hanging in my new living room. I don’t usually spend time analyzing art beyond a “that’s pretty” or “that’s ugly.” However this painting gets me thinking in a way no other painting does.

For my blind readers or those of you browsing the web in a text only browser (dear God, do people still do that?) it’s an image of a girl looking at her reflection in a full length oval mirror in a room with pretty garish wallpaper. Seriously, could you live in a room with yellow and red and green wallpaper like that? When we moved once I ended up in a bedroom with pink and white striped wallpaper that made the walls look like they were vibrating. We ripped it down in the first week before I had time to go “The Shining” on my family.

Notably, the girl’s reflection is not the same as the image of herself standing in the room. Here’s where that thinking part I mentioned comes in – why is that? Does she see herself differently than the world sees her? Is she seeing her inner self, the so-called “beauty on the inside?” Or is she unhappy with the way she looks and seeing a distorted, uglier version? Maybe she’s in a funhouse with one of those trick mirrors, which might explain the wallpaper. Or maybe Picasso just ran out of green paint. There are a lot of possibilities to consider and whenever I look at this print I’m reminded of the complexities of self-image.

Anyway, I like it enough that I’m basing my whole living room decorating scheme on it. That and the fact that it contains all the primary and secondary colors, so it’s pretty easy to match a pillow or rug too. Green, purple, red, yellow – all possibilities! This weekend I’m going to dye my curtains to match. We’ll see how badly I can screw that up. Hopefully I won’t end up with a purple cat.

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8 Comments

Lani • July 19, 2006 at 2:23 pm

I love that painting! I just took an art class last semester to fill some space and found I like Picasso. I even like Da Vinci. Weird. I learned more than I expected. Its a cool painting. He has another one with four women, I can’t remember the name. Its kind of like this one.

Anyway, congrats on your weightloss. 215? Go you! (I keep forgetting to comment when I read)

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Greta • July 19, 2006 at 2:58 pm

What I have experienced when losing weight is that my self-image lags behind. I feel fatter than I actually am. If I stay thin a few years then gain my self-image also lags behind and I feel thinner than I actually am and am surprised at photos of myself and of the image in the mirror. I think I DO see myself accurately in the mirror though, but I continue to find that image shocking or surprising for quite a long time. It takes me a few years to settle into the new self-image. However, I don’t think that’s what Picasso had in mind. I doubt if he had weight loss issues. This painting probably represents a view of the inner self in the mirror.

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Abi • July 19, 2006 at 10:16 pm

That painting is really nice. When I look at the painting I see a woman who looks in the mirror and can see her emotions clearly. Her face is in cold colors within the mirror and there (to me at least) is a red tear running down her cheek. In physical form she is normal and in warm colors – in the mirror she is sad and in cold colors – but no one can she this except for herself.

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Peter Audrain • July 20, 2006 at 1:47 pm

I think she sees herself as in a glass, darkly, is all. The meaning and nature of the distortion is up to you to decide–it’s just a meditation on the impossibility of seeing oneself, or seeing anything “perfectly,” from some position completely outside the system (the image we’re looking at it obviously not much more reliable or “neutral” than the one she has to go by; we’re just in a different place).

Maybe?

Anyway, I’ve noticed I definitely feel thinner than I am when I’m losing, and fatter than I am when I’m gaining. It’s the direction, not the number, that determines how the number looks to me–quite reliably. And it’s a good thing, since it keeps you motivated when you’re losing, but still have many tens of pounds to go. It means you can avoid total discouragement, and still taste some of the joys of being a normal weight, by unconsciously fooling yourself into thinking you’re “almost there,” and really sort of believing it, even when you’re months and months away from the goal.

On the other hand, it does sap the sense of urgency that comes with the not-gonna-to-take-it-anymore flavor of determination and disgust one can feel at one’s low points (right before starting a serious weight-loss run).

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kat • January 17, 2007 at 1:18 pm

I had decided that, if the heading of this entry corresponded to that painting, you would officially receive the “cool” label.

I love this pic and think that it shows a lot of depth to picasso.

To me, it is an artist’s rendition of the heart of an eating disorder.

When I first saw it in a museum I just stared at it for at least 10 minutes.

I am pretty sure that this was well before the time when scientists discovered that a woman with an eating disorder has a completely skewed perception of her body. And yet he seemed to understand that to be true just the same…

anyways, it is official: you’re cool

=0)

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kat • January 17, 2007 at 1:21 pm

ps

I’m kat and I just found your blog. You are such an inspiration!

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famous g • April 13, 2007 at 4:35 pm

hey i dont get this picture! >>>>>> like what is ti about? is it a girl looking at herself ugly or pretty cause im doing a highschool project about people who think they are ugly which they are not!… but yeha you gte the point right? k but the pic uis kinda unique!…in a weird way hahah ;))

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karen • June 17, 2009 at 6:11 pm

es verdaderamente impactante el cuadro, creo que representa como las mujeres con rpoblemas alimenticios se ven. Claro se mira frete a un espejo y ve algo totalmente distino a lo que ella es, claro que discrepo con los que pensaban que cuando ella se mira se ve gorda, al contrario creo que se ve esbelta y esa es la imagen que quisiera tener de sí misma, ella quisiera poder verse así, pero no puede.

Muy buen cuadro, me tomo bastante entenderlo pero creo que alfin lo comprendí.

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Man looking into telescope

Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JennetteFulda.com now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for keyboards ruined by coffee spit-takes or forehead wrinkles caused by deep thought.

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