Program uses mirrors to mess with mind


Rebeka Fisher, freshman from Elizabethtown, Ky., stares into a mirror at the ‘Mirrors Mess with the Mind’ event. || Kylie Townsend/The News

Courtney Laverdure
Staff writer

Looking into a mirror is not always a simple task for some people; mirrors can quite literally mess with the mind.

Understanding how someone else perceives themselves as they look in the mirror was the challenge the Women’s Center NEDAwareness program presented through “Mirrors Mess with the Mind” in the Curris Center dance lounge Tuesday through Thursday.

This is the first year the Center hosted “Mirrors Mess with the Mind.” In years past, members put on “Room with a View” in one of the Residential Colleges to raise awareness for National Eating Disorders Week.

Due to the renovation of Elizabeth College and the displacement of residents to Old Richmond College, the availability of rooms necessary for the program affected the ability for it to continue.

“Mirrors Mess with the Mind” is the first and only program of its kind, drawing awareness to the world of eating disorders.

The concept was developed by the Women’s Center. Engineer John McKee drew up the construction design, and students and faculty of the Hutson School of Agriculture built the exhibit.

Jane Etheridge, director of the Women’s Center, as well as student workers and volunteers from the Center helped explain and introduce the exhibit to visitors.

“I have more than one goal for ‘Mirrors Mess with the Mind,’ Etheridge said. “To get people first to wrestle, in a sense, with themselves in a mirror and to contemplate the image in the mirror, because none of us ever know how others see us.”

Mirrors and body image are some tricky things, she said. People project their internal self onto the image in the mirror, Etheridge said.

“I want those who go through ‘Mirrors Mess with the Mind’ to be sensitized to how difficult and challenging mirrors can be for others on a daily basis,” she said.

Stephanie Smith, sophomore from Mt. Vernon, Ind., was one of the volunteers on Tuesday. She said her goal was to reverse the negative light some people shine into their intrapersonal mirrors.

“The goal is to help people understand that not everyone can see themselves in a positive light,” Smith said. “There are countless people who feel very out of control and disconnected when they look in the mirror.”

The object of the house is to give the feeling some people experience when they look in the mirror, she said.

Upon entering the house, there were many distorted mirrors visitors saw and then inside numerous mirrors with song lyrics, sayings and testimonies from students at Murray State who had been diagnosed with an eating disorder at some point in their lives. Other Murray State students who had attended eating disorder awareness programs decorated mirrors.

These mirrors were intended to help the viewers learn from the authors what looking in the mirror is often like for them.

“‘Mirrors Mess with the Mind’ is not just for one specific group of people,” Smith said. “Men struggle with body image just as much as females do; it is directed toward everyone,” Smith said.

Etheridge said prior to the event that her expectations were for at least 500 people get to experience “Mirrors Mess with the Mind.”