I needed a full-length mirror for my bathroom. I was tired of climbing and perching on the edge of my bathtub like an Olympic balance-beam event just to see my whole outfit in the mirror above the sink.

Dressed in my suburban uniform of gym clothes and baseball cap like I just came from a yoga class (but hadn’t), I headed straight to the back of my local hardware store past the quarter-inch drill bits, fanciful wine charms, and cute socks with sayings, like “Super Fucking Awesome.” In the dark, neglected corner of the store, the mirrors were stacked vertically in slats like vinyl record albums.

The mirrors were flimsy with thin white, plastic moulding, costing about 20 bucks. Not the finest quality, but the cheap purchase could rescue me from the real possibility of falling off the tub ledge, breaking a bone, and having to crawl across the tile floor to make the embarrassing “I’ve fallen and can’t get up” call.

I pulled out three, leaned them against the shelving, and stepped back to check my reflection. I didn’t want a Fun House mirror that gave me an unusually stretched neck nor a giant Kim Kardashian ass—a lifted ass was okay. A wide one, not-so-much.

I chose the one that looked the least distorted—in fact, I looked pretty good—taller, slimmer, smoother—like I lost ten pounds since getting dressed that morning. I didn’t question it. I scooped the mirror under my arm and carried it to the register, grabbing the “Super Fucking Awesome” socks on the way.

At home, I propped the mirror up in my bathroom. Perhaps I should have purchased the quarter-inch drill bits as well, because the mirror sat there against the wall for months.

In the meantime, I stuck to my regular exercise and diet routine: gym time with my trainer twice a week, and my pattern of skipping bread for a couple of days and being surprised the number on the scale didn’t go down. But it didn’t matter, I always looked super fucking awesome in this mirror—tall, slim, and youthful. It was like Cinderella’s magical mirror always telling me I was the fairest in the land. On a daily basis, no matter what I wore, the mirror gave me a quick shot of dopamine, curing my common dysmorphia, miraculously showing me how the world truly saw me without the lumps and bumps my eyes couldn’t help seeing.

The following Christmas while my parents were visiting, Mom said, “I just used the mirror in your bathroom. Where did you get it?”

“I bought it in town.”

“Take me there,” she insisted.

Back at the local hardware store, we pulled out more mirrors. I questioned if we’d find another enchanted mirror like mine, or if I had just won the mirror lottery. Like Goldilocks, we eliminated the others until we found one that was “just right.”

“Do I look that good,” asked Mom. “Or is it the mirror?”

“Maybe this is how we really look,” I said.

“Wouldn’t that be nice,” she said reflectively.

While gingerly placing her purchase in the car, Dad asked, “Why did you get this cheap mirror? We can get one of these at home.”

“No.” She shook her head vehemently while shutting the liftgate on their Subaru. “This one’s special. It can not get broken.”

Unfortunately, my mirror didn’t survive my last move. While wearing my Super Fucking Awesome socks, I’ll be going on a field trip soon, back to my old local hardware store, fingers-crossed that other women haven’t discovered these magical mirrors and bought them all up.

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