I have to warn you though, this is not about some deep burning philosophical or emotional trial. It's actually pretty shallow. It's about my face.
Sometimes I have this daydream: if I had the chance to magically change one thing about myself physically, what would it be? Would it be permanently staying the size I was when Patrick and I were dating? Would it be to make my eyesight perfect? Longer/thicker/curlier eyelashes? Taller? Perfectly white teeth? Lusciously thick hair? Zap the love handles? (Seriously: muffin top, nobody likes you. GO away.) Or like most mommas, restore the location of my (*ahem*) chest to where is was pre-baby? Nope. None of those would be my choice.
I would not hesitate--I would choose perfect skin.
Shape/weight--I feel like that's good for me to work at, so that I'm also caring for my internal health, while practicing self-control. (yeah, got a long way to go with that....I stilllll love my second helpings.) Though it's not easy, I do have control over how fit I am. When I need to work at it, I start regularly exercising and eating better, and I make slow progress.
But, my skin? I have felt so powerless about it for a long time.
I have had problem skin since I was about 14. I'm so lucky that I don't have the deep, scarring acne, I have little bumpy acne that totally covers my whole forehead at all times and is usually on my cheeks, hairline, a little on my nose, and chin. Also, I have the visible pores and blackheads on my nose. (Gross.) There are times when my skin is worse than others, but rarely is it clear. (Except for my second tri of pregnancy with Hayden...freakin' glorious skin!!! Hmmm, maybe I should get pregnant again. haha!) And, I don't really have many pics that illustrate how bad my skin was at its worse, cause I was very meticulous about putting on my cover-up (or karate chopping any fool who tried to take a pic of me before I'd gotten ready in the morning.)
|Taking stupid pics with Patrick's laptop when we were dating...You can't see my forehead, but my cheek shows it a bit.|
As I got older and more confident, my self-esteem didn't come as much from what I looked like, but from who I was. But, still it bothered me that when everyone else was getting over their bad teenage skin, I was a 24, then 25 then 26-year-old, who was still regularly breaking out. Wasn't it supposed to taper off at 18?
When I was dating Patrick (23 and 24 yrs old), he wanted to take me to Wyoming to visit his family. I didn't want to spend the night because I didn't want them (or Patrick) to see me without makeup on. I was so scared he wouldn't think I was pretty anymore. So, no joke, I got up at 6:00 on a Saturday morning, showered and got all ready, got back into my pjs and lay in the guest bed, waiting for everyone else to wake up. Ha!
When we were engaged, Patrick came swimming with my family; since my make-up was washed off, I could barely look him in the eye on the car ride home. I didn't want him to be disgusted by my skin.
For our wedding, my mom gently suggested that I cut bangs, so my skin wouldn't be distracting in all those close up wedding pics. I did, and I still have them today. I actually like them, and I worry less about my stinkin forehead!
The maddening part of the problem? There's like 1 MILLION theories, ideas, and advice claiming to fix bad skin--and I have tried many. Get a sun-tan, wear sunscreen, you have too much oily foods in your diet, change your pillow case every night, go dairy-free, don't wear make-up, don't use hairspray, wash your face a lot, don't wash your face too much, stay away from heavy creams, lotion your face every night....and on and on. Then there are the products. You could spend a fortune on different creams, pills, lotions, astringents with varied ingredients; every time, your hopes rise, thinking this could be THE ONE, just to be dissapointed again. It's hard when well-meaning friends confidently tell you what WILL work--but your skin may react totally different from theirs. I've tried prescription cures too, with not much change. (Though I never tried Acutane. It seemed a bit harsh for me, since I didn't get the deep, scarring acne.) So, my bathroom cupboard was filled up with only-a-little-gone products while my skin continued to be a pain.
Experimenting with your face is NO fun. Each product says "it takes at least two weeks" for any real results. If it doesn't go well, then for two whole weeks (often longer), you are stuck looking like raw hamburger: visible results for all to see. And, I know it seems shallow, but think of it: your face is who you present to the world. I want people to remember me by my happy smile or pretty eyes, not be distracted by the poison-ivyish appearance of my skin.
For the past few years, I've given up on trying new cures. I just got tired of it. So, I've continued using ProActiv since the beginning of college. It's decent. My skin isn't great, but, could (and has) been worse. I'm scared to stop using it, though it's expensive, cause I don't want to mess up my face BIG time.
Despite my face worries, I like my features. I'm no model by any means--I don't have a rockin jaw line, striking cheekbones, or full, luscious lips, but my face is...me. I really don't want to look like a model, or someone else. They are the features I was born with; they come from my genes and the parents that I love. But, the bad skin isn't me. I feel like it's a sickness my face got when I was 14, and it never went away.
Over the years, I convinced myself, "People don't notice as much as think they do. You're blowing this out of proportion."
Then, while visiting my niece, she points up at my face, with a concerned look and said, "Owies." ...several times. I was so embarrassed. Another niece watched me put on make-up in the bathroom mirror when I visited her family. Afterward she said, "You look a lot prettier with your make-up. I can't see those red dots anymore." Oy. Just last month, another niece proudly handed me a picture she had drawn of me. And, across my forehead, she drew little red bumps. I said, "Oh, you don't need to draw those on there." She said, "But I want it to look like YOU!"
It shouldn't have been a big deal and I tried to laugh it off, but I felt a little sick. Is this how other people see me, but unlike a little kid, they just don't say it?
The very word "ACNE" sounds so ugly. It brings to mind a gangly, greasy haired, b.o. smellin high school boy who avoids all forms of personal hygiene. Now and then, I've even heard people say, "They are broken out cause they aren't staying clean enough." Argghhh...since 14, I've showered everyday and washed my face twice a day. Even now, if I don't, my face erupts into a scary mess by the next morning. On camping trips, I've washed my face in the freezing cold with bottled water, just to escape those consequences. Yet, I had friends with perfect skin wearing three-day-old makeup! Not cool, man.
Thankfully, in the past few years, I've become more comfortable in my skin. Here I am, 27-years-old and it still acts up--but it doesn't bother me nearly as much as it did back when I was in high school and college. A lot of that comes from the fact that I have a good husband who loves me and tells me I'm a hottie from time to time. :) And he didn't scream in horror and run for the hills like I imagined when he first saw me without makeup.
But, even before meeting Patrick, I was finally accepting the fact that I just don't have great skin. However, it doesn't define me. I know that I am a good worthwhile person. That doesn't come from my looks. It comes from the fact that I am God's child. I try to be kind and love others and be the best wife/mom/friend/daughter I can be. I have gotten through really hard things, and I've accomplished some incredible goals! And, I feel confident in who I am.
For years, I imagined that all anyone saw when they looked at me was my splotchy skin, but now, I am just happy to meet new friends, socialize, and enjoy people.
It makes a huge difference--when I'm reaching out to others, and trying to make THEM feel comfortable, I forget to focus on MY insecurities. I feel good about myself cause I'm reaching out!
Ya know what's interesting? I've found out over the years that most people have something they are very insecure about. They have a lisp, or they feel awkward making conversation when they meet someone, or they wish they were thinner, or they hate the gap in their teeth. And, you know what? Lots of people have zits. Not just me. I probably noticed it on myself WAY more than anyone else did.
I read about a women whose face was badly scarred from a fire, but she still makes the most of her life, cheerfully raising her children and reaching out to others through a well-kown blog, though she looks completely different than she did before. (I wish I could find her blog again. Anybody know who I'm talking about?)...UPDATE: Her name is Stephanie Nielson and her blog is called "NieNie Dialogues"...she is amazing. Go take a look. I felt seriously grateful for my skin, and humbled by her courage after reading her story. Seriously...Dang: what an amazing woman. I admire her SO much for continuing forward even when faced by such an enormous and painful trial. I feel pathetic and shallow for even worrying about something as trivial as some zits, when I have pretty good health otherwise. It's just my darn human insecurities that whisper, "You're not good enough."
Thankfully, those thoughts are rare now, but they still surface when my skin is being particularly belligerent.
My goal is to be comfortable in my skin, even thought it's less than perfect. Cause I know who I am, and beauty truly is much more than skin deep. I hope I can always help others to feel good enough and beautiful, even when they're having a hard time believing it. Especially those with bad skin. OHHH my heart goes out to those with deep acne...especially boys who can't really cover it up at all. I want to hug them and tell them, "Oh, it sucks so bad, but YOU are worthwhile. Hold your head up, child!"
SO, now that I've spilled my guts about fighting my biggest physical insecurity, what about yours?
It would mean alot if you shared. If I actually get the guts to post this, I'll be surprised. If I do, it's so much easier when people respond rather than having my words echo awkwardly into an empty room.
My friends, whatever insecurities you have, they do NOT define you. You have worth, no matter what society, cruel people, the mirror, or even yourself says. You are God's child, He made you, He loves you, and He sees your heart, not the size of the body or the zits on the skin or the gap in the teeth.
You are beautiful. It' time we all start believing that, don't you think?
Thanks for reading!
Ps. If you could magically change one thing physically about yourself what would you change? How do you rise above your insecurities? Also, If you have struggled with skin issues, how did you fix it? I'm always interested in hearing others' ideas.
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