In The Naked Gaze: Self-confessionally, the mirror drew attention to the illusionistic nature of visuality and to the act of framing or re constructing reality. Turned away from the viewer, she is engaged in a private and possibly narcissistic moment of self-observation.
Rather then being portrayed as an unwilling object of specular consumption, the woman actively directs the gaze towards herself and becomes an alias in her own fetishization. The outside viewer is, therefore, an obvious intruder and a lustful voyeur. Reflecting her face, the mirror allows us to see the woman against her awareness and against her will, thus making her a victim of our gaze. Rather than justifying the objectification of the female body, the mirror, if read in this way, exposes the oppressive power dynamic between rapacious gazer and resistant object of the gaze; the power dynamic that is accentuated by placing the viewer behind the woman where he is unseen and she is unguarded.
Didactically, therefore, the emphasis on simulation, afforded by the mirror, allows Utamaro to create and sustain a socio-cultural narrative that sees femininity as narcissistic and vain, and validates the objectification of the female body.
A similar composition — a woman turned away from the picture plane, her front reflected in a mirror — can be seen in an oil painting Morning Toilette by Japanese yoga master Kuroda Seiki. Here too, the mirror draws attention to verisimilitude and intimacy, both of which are already emphasised through the chosen medium of oil paint, portraying of the individual female body, and Asian girl looking in mirror print true-to-life scale.
While Utamaro patterns his bijingas on a single prototype of beauty, Kuroda daringly paints a unique, individual, and imperfect female body. The mirror in the frame, again, enables the viewer to see what he is not invited to look at, and to take on a position of power over the displayed body. As expressed by Alice Y.
In this particular image we see a mirror-reflection of a woman Oriole seated in her private space again indicated by the mirrorreading a letter from her lover while being spied on by her maid. As noted Asian girl looking in mirror print Asian art Professor, Richard Vinograd, optical devices often featured in the literature of both late Ming and Qing period to Asian girl looking in mirror print transparency and loss of the private sphere. Such self-confessional composition makes the act of framing transparent to the viewer and brings the authority of any single image into question.
As we become aware that images compress our sight and through it our perception of the world, we also begin to question the truths and the myths that they construe, including those that relate to gender and its power dynamics. The reliability of images and gendered myths that they create is also explored in the black and white photograph of the Chinese Empress Dowager Cixi who effectively controlled the Manchu Qing dynasty from to her death in In this photograph, which she herself carefully staged,  we see her standing in front of her imperial throne, in the centre of the frame, holding a small boudoir mirror whilst inserting a decorative flower into her hair.
The familiar motif of female figure holding a mirror as she applies make up or fixes her hair, again draws attention to female vanity and justifies our treatment of the woman as an object of gaze. This side and lowered look suggests introspective reflection, most likely triggered by the image captured in the mirror. At the same time, the look outside of the frame also suggests her recognition that any visual representation of the self is incomplete, and so is the self-knowledge offered by the sight.
In order to understand the reality or at least attempt to do soone must look outside and beyond the frame. Black and white photograph. Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. At the same time, of course, Cixi uses an image a photograph to present herself to the outside viewer. A self-portrait that she herself commissioned and in construction of which she actively participated, allows her to take control over the narrative that the image declares while also making the performativity of gender obvious to the viewer.
Her refusal to look in the mirror, is a refusal to being captured by the frame. Her refusal to gaze at herself, is ultimately a refusal to being gazed at and reduced to a sight.
By placing the mirror in the image and then refusing to use it, she shatters the usual representation of women as narcissistic and vain. As a medium of unprecedented mimetic transparency, photography allows Cixi to overturn the idea of the representational nature of images and suggest that any image, even the most truth-capturing one, is inevitably fantastical and deceptive.
However, the mirror can also perpetuate gendered norms and even accentuate the objectification of female body by making her complicit in this very objectification, or simply by implying the verisimilitude of presented gender stereotype. Reflections on Chinese ModernityCambridge and London: Harvard University Asia Centre,p British Broadcasting Corporation; Harmondsworth: Other authors have also expressed the connection between gazing at oneself in the mirror and self-objectification.