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All About Mirrors - From History to Humor

Updated on July 23, 2013

Saving Lives from Embarrassment since 6000 BC

Why dedicate one whole lens to the bathroom mirror? The answer is simple. We can't live without them.

Well, not literally. We can, in fact, walk out of our house, without sparing a single glance at the bathroom mirror, and just hope that we look decent enough. And we can shave, pluck our eyebrows, apply makeup, brush our teeth, spray some dye on our hair, etc. without the aid of our reflective buddy. We just probably wouldn't do a good job. Or we'd end up getting one nick too many.

In short, mirrors help us in so many of our daily routines, that they deserve to be talked about in greater detail.

Vain People Everywhere Should Thank...

The History Behind Mirrors

The earliest man-made bathroom mirrors / mirrors in general were first found back in 6000 BC in Turkey. These were made from obsidian (volcanic glass), and would later on be further improved by Egypt, Lebanon, etc. Sometime during the 16th century, Venice perfected the method of making mirrors out of tin-mercury coated glass, and in 1835, German chemist, Justus von Liebig created a silvered-glass version of mirrors, which is what most of the mirrors today are made from (silver or aluminum).

Of course, a lot of other details happened in between the abridged version I wrote above. If you're a history geek, check out the full History of Mirrors over at Wikipedia.

Mirror Check!

How often do you look at yourself in the mirror?

See results

Mirror Shopping

Not to be confused with "window shopping"

Back in the olden days, mirrors were considered expensive luxuries. Lucky for us, today, mirrors come in such a vast variety of designs and prices, that almost everyone can afford a piece of vanity in their home.

Here are the 2 most important ideas to consider when you're ready to buy your mirror.

1. How often can you clean your mirror (including the frame)?

The more ornate mirrors will need much more care, while the simple rectangular frame-less mirror will be a breeze to maintain.

2. What is the theme of your home?

Never leave out the mirror in your decision to tie a room based on a design. The mirror is an important member in your design family, and like lighting, mirrors can make your space look bigger and brighter.

Ehow presents Unique Bathroom Mirrors ideas, especially for frames

unique bathroom mirrors
unique bathroom mirrors

Unique Ideas

Decorate By Theme

If you haven't been out shopping for mirrors recently, then you'll be surprised to find just how many different mirror designs are out there!

Here are 5 awesomely unique finds online:

From left to right, top to bottom:

The Stag Frame - For a Rustic Feel

Look for mirrors with leaves, branches, etc - anything that reminds you of the great outdoors.

Victorian Silhouettes - Classic Elegance

Nothing says classic elegance more than filigree-carved frames.

Mosaic Frame - Creative, Artsy

Add some color to your life with this eye candy mosaic mirror!

Geometric Shapes - Contemporary / Industrial

I am a sucker for geometric shape designs, so I absolutely love this one. The frame is made from metal so it gives that industrial edge to it.

TV Mirror - For the Couch Potato

I say who cares about frames, when you've got a friggin' TV inside your mirror? Yes, you heard me. Not beside, not on top of, but inside - as in futuristically inside. Scroll down to the next section to view a youtube DIY tutorial for TV mirrors.

There are a LOT of other cool, unique mirrors out there so go ahead and explore all sorts of ideas. Just don't forget about your budget while you're shopping. You'd be surprised at how expensive some of them can get!

Mirror TV DIY

Here's an interesting video on how to achieve a Mirror TV

bathroom mirrors cleaning ideas
bathroom mirrors cleaning ideas

How to Clean These Reflective Things

Home Remedies vs Commercial Glass Cleaners

Cleaning mirrors can be frustrating especially if you have an eye for detail. Chances are you'd leave out small water stains even after cleaning it up. There are several methods to clean your mirrors, and the most common are:

1. Glass cleaner - which, for me, works best among all

2. Vinegar - wipe using newspaper

3. Rubbing Alcohol

I recently tried a little experiment with a small bathroom mirror to see which cleaning method works best. I splattered some toothpaste on the mirror with my electric toothbrush and let the toothpaste stains stay and harden on the mirror for 2 full days. Afterward, I decided to try using the methods above (except the glass cleaner because I already knew how well it works based on multiple times I've cleaned my full length bathroom mirrors with it) but using a soft cloth instead of newspaper. I also tried cleaning the mirror with just water, as well as just using a dry cloth, as my control variables. I found out that after the glass cleaner, rubbing alcohol seems to do the second best. You can refer to my image above to see.

Of course, this is not fully conclusive. A lot of further experiments need to be taken, but in my own opinion, if you can get yourself a glass cleaner, this is still your best bet.

On Self-image

Why you need good mirrors and good lighting

The bathroom mirror is an important piece of your home because in some ways, your self-confidence depends on it. How so? Because the mirror is the most accurate representation of yourself. By getting bathroom mirrors with cheap glass or imperfect curves, or leaving these mirrors smudgy and dirty, or by getting bad lighting / extremely bright lighting, your reflection tends to look bad.

It's always good to have a physical affirmation that we look fine - so make sure you get a decent piece!

Bathroom Mirrors in Movies and Videos

Mirrors have also been crucial elements in movies. The mirror is the perfect scare tactic in horror movies! Heck, there's even a horror movie named "Mirrors" featuring THE 24 man, Kiefer Sutherland. Horror movies always like utilizing the creepy idea that something will pop out of the mirror unexpectedly. In the Candyman movie, people who chant "Candyman" in front of the mirror 5 times will get an unexpected and absolutely terrifying experience.

Comedies have also loved using mirrors for the "funny". In How I Met your Mother, Marshall gives himself a hilarious pep talk for an upcoming marathon in front of a mirror just in time for Robin to catch him. In Arrested Development, Barry makes an inside joke by doing his Fonz pose (back in the old Happy Days decade) in front a bathroom mirror. South Park makes a satire out of the whole "something pops out of the mirror" scare (which is also popularly known as the Bloody Mary), when the boys dare each other to chant "Biggie Smalls" (as in the guy from Notorious BIG hahaha!) thrice in front of the mirror.

As one of the commenters below mentioned, the mirror is also the perfect prop for music videos as it provides quick dramatic effects that are particularly useful for short-length music videos.

Nobody uses the mirror concept more awesomely and innovatively than Duck Soup's mirror sequence. Check out the video below :)

Of Superstition and Fairy Tales

Because of the very nature of mirrors, there tends to be several superstitious beliefs revolving around these reflective items. We all know the well-known belief that breaking mirrors means bad luck. This was brought about by the belief that our soul is reflected on the mirror, so breaking the mirror means also breaking our soul. This is also why vampires can see no reflection - because they no longer have a soul.

Fairy tales have also given magic elements to mirrors. For instance, in Snow White, the Evil Queen would use her mirror to find out if she was still the fairest in the land. In Disney's Beauty and the Beast, Belle was given the mirror in order to see how her family was doing.

As stated in the previous snippet, some people believe that if you repeat certain words in front of the mirror, you will summon something evil. There is a popular childhood game known as the "Bloody Mary" which plays around this idea.

Have you Ever Played "Bloody Mary"?

Did you ever chant these words in front of your mirror before?

Have you Ever chanted "Bloody Mary" in front of your mirror 3 times?

See results

List of References

Where I got the pictures

chocolate compact mirror
chocolate compact mirror

Compact Mirrors

Vanity in your Pocket

Compact mirrors are awesome. They're small, you can carry them anywhere, and there are a TON of great designs to choose from. You can probably choose one design for every mood and every day or for every bag design you may have and you will still have more designs to choose from. There are compact mirrors with intricate beaded patterns on the top, compact mirrors in the shape of strawberries, cherries, or any other fruit you may think of, then there are even those that look like chocolate!

Thoughts? Ideas? Leave a Note! - I LOVE getting feedback - esp. the positive kind ;)

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    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Music videos utilize mirror-scenes too. Such scenes can convey a variety of things to suit the theme within a short time - making it handy to use them in 4-min videos.

    • profile image

      fractalcurves 6 years ago

      interesting piece about the history of bathroom mirrors!

    • costumesngifts profile image

      costumesngifts 6 years ago

      @fractalcurves thanks for the kind words

      @classifier90 true! they add a lot of dramatic effect to music videos as well.

    • PNWtravels profile image

      Vicki Green 6 years ago from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA

      It is always fun to reflect (pardon the pun) on everyday items that we take for granted. Nicely done.

    • costumesngifts profile image

      costumesngifts 6 years ago

      @PNWtravels: Haha! That pun made my day :) Thanks for the kind words!

    • LizMac60 profile image

      Liz Mackay 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      Good first lens.

    • Home Interior D profile image

      Home Interior D 6 years ago

      There are some great looking mirrors available in stores and online. Your Unique Mirrors section points to the possibilities that mirrors can present to an interior setting. Good first lens!

    • costumesngifts profile image

      costumesngifts 6 years ago

      Thank you so much Home-Interior-Designer and LizMac60! I'm glad you liked my lens

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      @PNWtravels: LOL, good pun... hehe

    • profile image

      jbperez 6 years ago

      Were bathrooms around in 6000 BC?

    • costumesngifts profile image

      costumesngifts 6 years ago

      @jbperez: Very good question. Actually bathrooms as we know it today were first seen sometime 3000BC, so mirrors were invented before bathrooms. Back in 3000 BC, they were just in the form of public baths. The idea of a personal bathroom only started sometime 16th century. I do suppose that back in 6000BC when the bathroom space wasn't invented yet, they simply used the mirror wherever they can.

    • costumesngifts profile image

      costumesngifts 6 years ago

      @anonymous: Lol! I might be having an off day today because I have to admit it took me a minute or so to understand the pun!

    • profile image

      machime 6 years ago

      My favorite part of your squidoo is how you related bathroom mirrors to movies, superstition, and fairy tales. I remember "Bloody Mary" very vividly! My friends and I will egg each other on to do the chant but we'd always chicken out at the last minute ;)

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Tried the "Bloody Mary" stunt once... during Halloween to boot. Nothing showed up in the mirror, but I swore a gust of cold air blew into the bathroom.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Know where I can buy nice bathroom mirrors online?

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      What's the best *and* easiest way to clean bathroom mirrors?

    • costumesngifts profile image

      costumesngifts 6 years ago

      @anonymous: Hi Hal! I'm glad you asked that. I just updated my section about cleaning bathroom mirrors (or mirrors in general). Please take a look see :)

      I would recommend getting any commercial glass cleaner, but if you can't go to the market to buy one and you really want to clean your mirror, then using rubbing alcohol is a good idea. Just use a nice piece of clean cloth to wipe it on the mirror. Hope that helps!

    • costumesngifts profile image

      costumesngifts 6 years ago

      @anonymous: You can check out my Amazon and Ebay finds on my page here. I whipped up some affordable unique mirrors as well as some functional mirrors. You can also do a quick google search for "bathroom mirrors" and you're sure to find a lot of website selling them :) Happy hunting!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      that duck soup video sequence is awesome. I just realized Garfield kinda copied from that video (that movie where he had a lookalike who belonged to a rich/noble family?)

    • Stazjia profile image

      Carol Fisher 6 years ago from Warminster, Wiltshire, UK

      Good page with a nice mixture of information about mirrors. Well done.

    • Meloramus profile image

      Meloramus 6 years ago

      I always chickened out of chanting in front of the mirror. It also freaks me out if I stare at my own face too long. It's like looking at another person - or is that just me?

    • profile image

      chadyenn 6 years ago

      Under movies and literature, there's the Mirror of Erised in Harry Potter.

    • profile image

      chipchan 6 years ago

      I always see this fat round guy whenever I look in my bathroom mirror, and it isn't me.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Love mirrors. These were the only ones I brought when we moved house. I think they dress up the bathroom beautifully.

    • costumesngifts profile image

      costumesngifts 6 years ago

      @anonymous: I didnt get to watch that one, I'm gonna go check that one out one of these days :P

    • costumesngifts profile image

      costumesngifts 6 years ago

      @Meloramus: Same here! I was too scared to even mutter out the first syllable of the chant! I don't get freaked out when I stare at my own face in front of bathroom mirrors for too long, unless it's night time haha

    • indigomoth profile image

      indigomoth 6 years ago from New Zealand

      Really good lens. I didn't realise mirrors could be so interesting! :)

    • desilegend profile image

      desilegend 6 years ago

      What about ceiling mirrors? Thanks for dropping by!

    • ICanCook profile image

      ICanCook 6 years ago

      I love mirrors. I have some many about my home. A mirror is not only for looking at yourself, but for adding light.

    • costumesngifts profile image

      costumesngifts 6 years ago

      @desilegend: Good idea, I'll look into featuring ceiling mirrors on the next update. Thanks! :)

    • costumesngifts profile image

      costumesngifts 6 years ago

      @ICanCook: Agreed! I also love how mirrors make your place look roomier than it really is. Thank you very much for stopping by!

    • hlkljgk profile image

      hlkljgk 6 years ago from Western Mass

      thanks for the inspiration :)

    • profile image

      rbathroomtv 5 years ago

      This makes me feel terror. :(

      and welcome to my web bathroom tv talk about bathroom tv.

    • LaraineRoses profile image

      Laraine Sims 5 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      This is a nice lens on mirrors. I think it is time we got a new one for one for one of our bathrooms. I notice that some of the backing is coming off. Or, can it be repaired?

    • Ninche profile image

      Ninche 4 years ago

      I like humorous style of writing. I really like this lens!

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