Embodied Dysmorphia - Exam Project at Beckmans College of Design

In 2019 I finished my bachelor's degree at Beckmans College of Design in Stockholm, Sweden. And this project was my incredibly personal graduation project, about body dysmorphia and my relationship to the mirror.

In the society we currently live in, we are bombarded with ideal bodies on instagram, in magazines, commercials on youtube, etc. We all are, at least a little, aware of the fact that there's an ideal body shape and size you're supposed to be.

Then, how does the relationship we have to mirrors affect our social norms?

Something that helped me get out of the self destructive cycle of body dysmorphia, was to realize, that no matter how hard I try to analyze myself in the mirror, in photos, in videos, I will never fully be able to tell what I look like. Because a reflection or an image of yourself is not who you are.

And according to the philosopher Jean Baudrillard, in our post-modern society a copy of something can become more real, than the real thing itself. He calls this a simulacra.

If you've grown up with strawberry flavored chewing gum, and everyone else has as too, and we all agree that this strawberry flavored chewing gum, is in fact flavored like strawberries.

The artificial strawberry flavor might be more real that actual strawberries you pick from a plant. A simulacrum is a copy of something real, but the repeated exposure to the copy makes it more real than the real thing itself.

I would argue that, because of how often we photograph and publish images of ourselves on social media, and of how we depend on mirrors to portray an image of ourselves, reflections and images of our bodies are becoming more real than our actual physical selves. Our reflections have become a simulacrum.

But what if we break that learned interaction we have with mirrors? If a mirror gives another function than what you'd usually expect, could you have a person relearn their relationships to their own reflection.

The experience of exhibiting the project at our graduation exhibition was an incredibly emotional one.

Many thought the mirror was fun and an interesting object. But for some, it really hit deeper, and I was incredibly glad to talk with them. A few shared with me their own personal stories with body image, a few parents shared with me their concerns about their kids growing up with such pressure to look a certain way, all the while their kids were running back and forth in front of the mirror yelling; "Mommy, it's moving! Look!". A few just started to cry, because they felt so moved by the experience.

The project was well received by my examinators, and the mirror was exhibited at Studio L2 at Gamla Stan in Stockholm the autumn of 2019 as well as at Beckmans College of Design.