The world is a looking glass, and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face. ~ William Makepeace Thackery
Looking glass, besides being a mirror, has several other references. It is a novel series, a computer server, a place in three US states, a name of an 1877 native American leader, among others.
In communication theories looking glass is an interactionist sociological concept.
Charles Cooley is known for his concept of the looking glass self. That is, a person’s self grows out of society’s interpersonal interactions and perceptions of others.
Children learn how others perceive them – “You’re a good boy,” or “You do nothing but get into trouble.”
A cousin tells his 5-year old daughter, “you’re really pretty, my child, aren’t you?”
His daughter answers, pouting as if annoyed that her Dad seems to have only just discovered her looks, “of course I’m pretty, Dad. A lot of people have already told me that.”
You may have known people who believe they are not attractive, although you think they look nice. The mother of that girl with a pretty solid belief of herself as pretty, is quite attractive but doesn’t think she is. Fortunately that is not the case with her daughter.
When I was doing research for a case study on communication ethics, I read that Lady Diana said in an interview that she’s plain. I wondered if the news that she’s considered one of the world’s most beautiful women was ever reflected on her looking glass.
As a kid I once wrapped my head with a white towel like a coif and looked into my mother’s vintage looking glass. That was some kind of curiosity though, not people’s perception of me. I didn’t become a nun.
So I was then a carefree teenager with huge potential for truancy when in the middle of happily neglecting my meager piano ability, I was required to accompany a choir with piano music in a concert less than three weeks away. Struggling, panicking and ready to disappear into uselessness, the music director exposed me as “our pianist.” Although a near death experience due to a nearly fatal embarrassment almost shrouded my looking glass, the two-thousand audience applause after the performance confirmed I was indeed their pianist.