He noticed that his face was not symmetrical and that his eyes had a lot more to express as compared to an unusual mirror.
When we see ourselves in the mirror, in pictures, or in real life, there is a notable difference in our appearance. We observe ourselves in a reversed manner. The way we perceive ourselves may be vastly different from how others perceive us. This leads to the question: Will we ever truly know how we are perceived by others? Well, the answer is now within our reach. On June 3, True Mirror Co. founder John Walter—who goes by @truemirrorco_jwalter on TikTok—shared a video in which his cousin Michael finally gets to see his true reflection after years of hearing about it.
The video clip is captioned, "Imagine growing up hearing about this crazy mirror your cousin (once removed) created (reinvented actually), and then finally seeing it. Fun stuff at a memorable family gathering," procuring over seven million views.
Upon first glance, Michael says, "Oh wow. My hair is all going the wrong way. That's so weird. This is how other people see me. I feel like I'm not as symmetric." Walter instructs Michael to look at his reflection in a regular mirror, paying special attention to his eyes. "Notice your eyes there," Walter says. "See how there's no expression in them right now? This is what happens in mirrors. It takes away our expressions. We tend to just stare."
When Michael returns to the true mirror, Walter says, "So look at me." This is how I see you. Your face communicates." Michael becomes more at ease and fond of his true reflection as the video progresses. "I've heard about this my whole life and I've heard that, you know, my cousin invented it, so I've always wanted to see it," he says.
Walter was the first person to "independently" discovered in 1982, ten years before forming his company, that creating an unreversed "true image reflection" was possible by "putting two mirrors together at right angles." Walter points out the concept was actually patented in 1887.
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An explanation on True Mirror Co.'s website reads, "He found that using front surface mirrors could remove the seam between the mirrors, and he knew that he could make a real thing with it. That seam is critical, it goes right through your eyes, which with regular mirrors, makes it very difficult to make real eye contact with yourself. With the front surface mirrors and many, many trial and error, he now can produce an optically perfect, seamless true image mirror."
It isn't the first time Walter's illuminating contraption has gained traction on TikTok. A video of Riverdale actress Ashleigh Murray's emotional reaction while absorbing her true reflection went viral in January 2023. Murray smiles broadly as she realizes this is how others perceive her. "So what it does is gets the messaging right in your eyes, and it comes across to your smile," Walter explains to her. "When you smile, the light in your eyes actually tells why you're smiling. We use that to understand each other, you know and we're really good at it."
TikTok viewers suspected that they'd not like their true reflections. "I am not mentally well enough to see myself in a true mirror," commented @user6825273798514. "Normalize True Mirrors as a basic necessity in all homes! lol" joked @pickle_edd.