The Horror of Hotel Bathroom Magnifying Mirrors

Posted on
Jul 7, 2011


Forged by Lucifer himself, I'm sure.


I have a brilliant idea for a horror movie. It would begin like this:

A couple – a young man and woman – enter a hotel room. For the purposes of casting, let’s say that the man, dark-haired, bearded and handsome, will be played by Joshua Jackson. And the woman will be played by me (SHUT UP IT’S MY BLOG). They enter the room together, the man tugging a suitcase behind him, his toned arm flexing against his Ted Baker suit jacket, which he’s paired with a dress shirt, jeans, and, oh, I don’t know, yellow shoes. And no one cares what the woman is wearing because by the end of the movie her clothes will be in a crumbled pile in the corner of the room after a gratuitous sex scene.

Ahem. I have completely lost my train of thought.

Oh – horror movie! Right. So, the man comments on how lavish the room is, and draws back the blinds to reveal a dizzying panorama of sea and sky, and makes some crack about how it doesn’t hold a candle to his wife’s loveliness. And she blushes on the apples of her cheeks and HER NOSE DOES NOT TURN BEET RED IN THE PROCESS and she looks adorable. Also, she’s a super-accomplished writer and all of her pants fit (this is what people in Hollywood call “subtext”).

She proceeds to head into the bathroom to “freshen up”, which in the movies is code for “get naked” but the second she steps in there, she lets out a blood-curdling scream and runs out of the hotel room. Her husband, confused, chases after her, but she’s already fled down the hall, in a wide-angle shot that totally doesn’t make her butt look big. He peers back in the bathroom, looking for whatever set her off. Is there a body in the tub? No. A threatening note scribbled in blood on the bathroom? Nope. He’s confused for a moment, until finally, next to the sink, he sees it.

It’s a magnifying mirror.

The point being that magnifying mirrors are horrifying. And also, I neglected to figure out where the sex scene would go (that can be addressed in the re-write).


At the risk of stating something which may already be obvious, I do not have perfect skin. It was worse in my early and mid-twenties, when I was trying to have some semblance of authority in my work, but mostly looked like a broken-out teenager. After some truly expensive cosmetic procedures (featuring ominous word combinations like “chemical” and “peel”) I’ve managed to get my skin under control, just in time for me to start worrying about wrinkles.

So, um, phew. I guess.

At home, my complexion tends to not cause me too much grief. But on the road, my skin goes through a caucaphony of abuses: recycled air on planes, unfamiliar climates, and the occasional trace of an earlier snack left on my face for several long hours (Yes, I licked it off, and no, I don’t have any shame. Thank you for asking).

Also, I don't know how to pluck my own eyebrows.

In the buzzing bathroom light of hotel rooms, I’m usually able to ignore it, unless, of course, there’s a magnifying mirror. A funhouse mirror for pores, it would make Natalie Portman look pock-marked. Just imagine the impact it has on a mere mortal like myself. And yet, I cannot look away.

Whenever I encounter one, my thought process usually goes as follows:

Huh. A magnifying mirror. Well, I’ll just ignore that. After all, it won’t be flattering at all.

Well, maybe I’ll just take a teeny, tiny look.

Yikes. I have wookie eyebrows. Let me just clean them up a bit. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.

Hmm. It appears that I have plucked my eyebrows clean off.

Seriously, how does Whoopi pull this look off? This is not at all flattering.

And – sweet jesus – what is going on with my pores? Let me just do a tiny squeeze and …

MOTHER OF GOD WHAT WAS IN MY FACE? I’m obviously some sort of mutant.

Note: At this point in time Rand usually notices that I’ve been in the bathroom for several long days.  Aware of my penchant for picking, he will inquire gently, “Baby, what are you doing?”

“Replacing my nearly invisible blackheads with screaming angry red marks.”

“Are you sure that’s what you want to be doing?”

“Yes. Are you sure you want to be pissing me off?” I reply. After all, I’m a mutant, and probably have superpowers.

And that’s pretty much how it goes, until I run screaming from the bathroom, my face a mess. I’ll tearfully press my abused face to my husband’s chest, and he’ll quietly tell me that I look fine, and that soon the redness will go away and my eyebrows will grow back.

“But in the meantime,” he’ll say gently, “Stay away from that mirror.”

Oh, would that I could! If you are anything like me (i.e., for years you thought your mother’s pet name for you was “Don’t pick at it”) you know how addictive and destructive they can be. Like all good addictions, I’ve found the best solution is not to start. And here’s how, precisely, I do that:

  • Turn the mirror towards the wall.

    Sweet heavenly father - even the back is reflective.

  • Failing that, cover the damn thing up (a shower cap works delightfully well.)
  • Failing that, turn out the light.
  • Get co-dependent someone to support you. Someone to tenderly scream, “Honey, why have you been in the bathroom for the better part of Wednesday?”
  • Remember that no one will stand four-inches from your face and inspect your pores. If they do, they will be in no position to judge.

And then, as you whisper to yourself that looks don’t matter anyway (and honey, if they did, pores would be the LEAST of your problems), quickly and resolutely walk away. Because that romantic interlude is waiting, and those clothes aren’t going to tear themselves off.

Leave a Comment

  • If you are able to come up our way to visit I insist you use the neighbor’s toilet. The downstairs option is wallpapered in black-and-white photos of Greek statues (…seriously) and the upstairs…well…the previous owners installed a magnifying mirror.


  • Annie

    can we be friends IRL? i feel like day-to-day conversation with you would be ever so entertaining.

    [magnifying mirrors are the devil incarnate]

    • Everywhereist

      Yes. Absolutely. We can get cake.

  • Christine S.

    Excellent post, and excellent mental use of Joshua Jackson. I have no idea why people thought Joey would have difficulty choosing between Dawson and Pacey. Pacey was way hotter, hands down. Who wouldn’t go on a summer-long journey in a sailboat with him?

    Ok, must get back to work, revise some contracts and stop living 10+ years in the past…

    • Everywhereist

      Agreed – why on earth would she choose Whiny McForehead over Pacey? Never. Made. Any. Sense.

      • I am suddenly disturbed by my wife’s (Christine) infatuation with Joshua Jackson. This does not bode well considering how I am trending towards Hank Williams Jr.

        • Well, hon, you do have the beard and wicked sense of humor. . .

  • Angela

    Excellent scary movie, and you could substitute a bathroom scale and have the same outcome! Funny, you and I have the same thought process too…

  • Savannah

    Oh, I am so a picker and gave birth to one. I now sound just like my mom “Don’t pick at that….if you wouldn’t pick, it wouldn’t bleed.” And she is only four. I am too young to be my mom and now I must go home and remove all mirrors before she becomes a teenager.

  • The first time I saw a magnifying mirror was because of my mother. I had made some comment about how plucking my eyebrows annoys me so she actually brought me over to my bedroom window and showed me the mirror. So not only was I facing the dreaded magnifying mirror but I was looking at it in NATURAL LIGHT.

    I vaguely remember some screaming and there may have been a mirror that flew across the room. I have blocked out most of the experience.

  • I am hysterically laughing at this post!
    I think you have completely narrated all of my experiences with a magnifying mirror.
    Thank you for that and every time I near one again I will heed your advice on how to handle the situation…because it quickly becomes one!


  • lisa

    My mother in law bought me an 8x “make up” mirror last Christmas.

    I haven’t stopped crying yet.

  • I loved reading this post and as I said before, I love your humorous style of writing. Amazing. I have a huge smile on my face after days. Great work!

  • Penny

    “Yes. Are you sure you want to be pissing me off?” I reply. After all, I’m a mutant, and probably have superpowers.

    You. Are. Fantastic.

    • Everywhereist

      Awww. I blush! SEE HOW I BLUSH!

  • Erin

    You seriously crack me up. Love this post and your blog!

  • Pamela

    I moved to Houston a few months ago (condolences accepted), and spent a month in temporary corporate housing, without access to the comforts of home, which would include a mirror I could see without bifocals. One Saturday morning I was walking through a Bed, Bath & Beyond and made the mistake of looking into one of the 8x (or more x) make up mirrors. There were at least 40 acres of blackheads on the end of my nose, which I had no idea was that big. I immediately grabbed a mirror, bought it, and then took the mirror out or the bag, put the bag over my head, and ran for home. And spent the rest of the weekend picking, poking, masking, scrubbing, and generally abusing my poor nose. Which is only barely recovered even now. Those things should be outlawed. But of course now I can’t put on my mascara without it.

    • Everywhereist

      Because they’re addictive. Like heroin. Or Oreos.

  • Wendy

    We are so similar. Except that I am not a super-accomplished writer, and none of my pants fit. I’ve been on the sofa for weeks with morning sickness, and your blog has helped me laugh my way through it. If you’re ever in Atlanta (my old home) or England (my new one), I will tell you wicked terrible places to go with cupcakes, unbelievable desserts and delicious food so that your pants don’t fit. [insert evil laugh]

  • Amy

    I recently started dating again. So much fun! NOT! The new boyfriend, after telling me on several occasions that my makeup was smudged and getting a response like, “So?” or “I don’t care.”, said to me that he was going to buy me one of those magnifying mirrors. My look of horror must have puzzled him because he said, “What?”


    This is why I’m single. Although you and Rand are lovely and I wish you the best. 🙂

    • Everywhereist

      A good thing, too, because the guy was clearly a sociopath.

  • Laura

    Oh my gosh I think you’re so hilarious! I’m not typically someone who comments on blogs, but I just discovered yours somewhat recently, and it’s made its way onto my bookmarks menu. I think it’s wonderful how you find the time to post not only about the sites you see, but also on the many hilarious/stressful/frustrating aspects of travel that many people don’t really think about (like the mirrors in hotel bathrooms). Anyway, I feel like a big dork now, but I just wanted to contribute my 2 cents…even if they are somewhat repetitive from most of your comments! haha

  • Amy

    We not only had a magnifying mirror, it was surrounded by circular lights which, by sliding a lever, would change the color from “daylight” (glaring white) to “interior” (a ghoulish green tint) to “evening” (pink). I spent countless teenage hours marveling at the moonscape that was my face through these “corrective” filters. A habit that I never completely shook. Perhaps there is a 12 step program for me……

  • pinkrapture

    Hilarious post but oh so true. Ditto Laura’s comments above. Ever since I started reading your blog a month ago, I have been addicted!

  • Jackie

    Hi, I’m Jackie and I’m a picker.

    It is with great humiliation I admit that last night after reading this I went in an inspected my mug and found some imperfections. I tried to stop myself- I played on the internet, read a book, took the dog for a walk- but the mirror beckons. I had a genius thought–I can use a NEEDLE and it won’t be THAT bad, right? RIGHT?! So I took a sharp, pointed object to my poor, undeserving face. Husband witnesses the preemptive and obvious medically sanctioned steps of heating the tip and dousing in alcohol and says, “You know you’re just going to be upset when you’re done with that.” No. It’s OK, really, it’s fine, I’m good. I even believed it at that point. You know how it turns out. My dermatologist is going to be pissed.

    This morning the needle has disappeared from the cotton pad I left it on after “sanitizing” it. I found it in the garbage. I have been silently shamed.

  • Lesley

    I think you should do a post on airplane toilets. They are the pits of hell. They are worse than festival toilets. I don’t know what people do in them – okay, I do know – but, seriously, forget waterboarding – put prisoners in a loo at the end of a 15-hour flight and they would talk immediately.

  • Linda

    I had to read this post in small, quickly-absorbed bits because I couldn’t see for laughing so hard. You know, laughing in that I-wouldn’t-be-half-as-hysterical-if-I-hadn’t-done-a-Wookie-impression-myself type way. I’m with you: magnifying mirrors are the devil’s invention. Who actually sees your face like that? NOBODY. And it should stay that way. Now, if I could only stop chewing my nails…

  • Lisa

    Oh my goodness! Your mother and my mother had the same nicknames for us! Thank you for the reminder that no one ever gets that close to my face and that I need to just walk away.

  • Dianne

    My dear husband just bought me one for my 35th birthday. Needless to say…my dear husband is now at the drug store buying me tweezers, nair hair remover and a loofah so I can scrub my skin off my face for the next hour. Just now, my 8 year old son looked into the mirror and said “I look like a monster.” LOL……Isn’t that what we all see?

  • Two things….

    1) You must stay at much more upscale accommodations than I. Never have I had the misfortune to find a magnifying mirror at any hotel I’ve ever stayed in.

    2) Absolutely HILARIOUS post! I was snorting through my fingers at work trying to hold back the inappropriate laughter.

  • I agree. My skin looks fine, but under serious magnification who looks good? Then I attack and I end up looking like I was in some sort of explosion.

  • Kitty

    I realise i spent like 12 hours reading your blog!!L I’m going to bed a bit sleepy with red eyes but with truly toned abs!I won’t need togo to the gym tomorrow 😉
    Your blog is pure epic,funny and hilarious posts 🙂

  • Aruna

    OMG!! am literally shaking -trying to control the laughter -lest people at my workplace think that i have gone completely mad!
    You are awesome!

  • Angelo Aquilano

    WHY ARE YOU SO ADDICTIVE? Seriously, like a horrible hotel magnifying mirror, I just can’t stop looking, but in a good way that doesn’t bring up every insecurity I ever had. Since I discovered you last week I also text in capitals more, because reasons. Thank you for all the laughs but mostly for being so generous with yourself on here.

  • oh. joshua jackson.

  • Suzette Drouillard

    I just checked into a hotel with one of these. I hope I survive the night

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