Love the Skin You're in: A Personal Account of Learning to Love my Imperfections
I’ve never been one to wear a lot of make-up when I leave the house and I definitely wouldn’t say that make-up application is one of my strengths. Those youtube tutorials make it look like complete magic, and I’m no Harry Potter. However, after I had a sudden onset of severe and cystic acne about six years ago, hiding my face became one of my top priorities. I tried EVERYTHING under the sun to cure my acne…acupuncture, accupressure, Chinese herbal teas, lasers treatments, facials, chemical peels that left my skin red and raw, supplements, antibiotics, topicals, ointments….and eventually, the prescription medication known as Accutane. My mother spent thousands and thousands of dollars to try and help me solve my issue, but no matter what I did, it persisted and seemed to become worse.
I was never public about this, nor did I speak to anyone about it besides my medical care providers. I never even opened up to my friends. I just thought, “If I don’t mention it, maybe they won’t notice as much” or “If I don’t talk about it, it’s not real, right?” After a time, my desire not to discuss it became a desire not to be seen, which eventually snowballed into a disorder called BDD (Body Dysmorphic Disorder). My hatred for my own face grew and grew and my self loathing spread to every part of my body like a metastasizing cancer. It wasn’t just my skin anymore, but my hair, my stomach, my thighs, my height, and so on.
Perhaps worst of all, I eventually began to see my outer self as representation of my inner being. If my body was “ugly”, I thought, then I was unlovable, and unworthy of affection or care whatsoever. This thinking naturally became the downfall of most of my close relationships, which only further justified my twisted logic. “They don’t love me because I’m ugly. I was right.” And I lived like that for years. As I grew into a young woman, at the time in my life when I should have been honoring and rejoicing in my youthful, healthy bodily vessel, I lived with shame and contempt for myself. I hated myself even more because my outlook did not align with my true self. I am a person who does not believe in the word “ugly”, but in fact believe that every being is beautiful, and further, that beauty stems from within. The fact that I was so focused on my own outward appearance made me even more uncomfortable in my own skin.
And then one day, things changed. I met a naturopathic physician who would become my mentor and one of my closest comrades in my journey to self love. She taught me to see my acne as a sign from my body that something was wrong. It was beyond the typical teen terror. I was a young adult now, and its presence meant that I was sick. So, together, with the support of my closest family and friends, I began treating my skin from the inside out. It wasn’t about being “beautiful”, but about being healthy! Over several months of investigative work and blood tests, we discovered that I actually had a very severe hormonal imbalance AND a complete intolerance for most of what I was eating! EUREKA! I have been in treatment for most about six months and have seen significant improvements, and know that with time, dedication, and patience, I will return to complete balance and wellness.
However, BDD does not disappear over night, and I still battle that demon daily. Though my treatment is successful, I have been left with many marks and scars, and still experience break outs which prevent me from feeling beautiful. The key, I have found, is making a conscious effort to love the skin you are in, and focus on preserving the true health and wellness of your being, both on a physical level, and on a spiritual and emotional level.
What I did today
Although I try to nurture my body and soul daily through exercise, gratitude, prayer, and healthful eating, the thing I most glaringly neglect is honoring my natural beauty. I spend quite a fair amount of time in front of the mirror picking myself apart, narrowing in on my imperfections, and reminding myself what about me is not “ideal.” Not today! Today was as busy as any other day, with many errands to run, things to do, and places to be. As I began my primping routine this morning, it dawned on me: What if the most loving thing I can do for myself today, is to simply let my hair be natural, let my skin breathe, and allow myself to show the world my true physical form? Well, what if? What’s the worst that could happen? So i decided to give that a try. I am definitely not the granola crunching guru that I think all young hippies aspire to be, and I cannot honestly say that I will never wear make up again, because I will. But an occasional and perhaps regular shift (No Make-up Mondays, anyone?) could be just what I need to begin to feel more at home in my natural state. This may seem shallow, and I admit, this is obviously not the worst problem to have in the world. But it is my problem. One that I face everyday, and one that I am consciously working to overcome.
For my male readers and others, you may not be hiding your imperfections with concealer and blush, but I am positive that you are concealing something. We all are, and today I made the conscious effort to let my imperfections be seen! We are all attractive in our own unique way. Part of self care is appreciating how truly radiant and wonderful we are! As we begin to embrace ourselves as we truly are and turn our attention to creating and maintaing optimum health and wellness in body, mind, and spirit, we elevate our consciousness beyond physical appearances and begin to transcend our energy to a more loving and balanced place. Taking on perfect health and wellness is a large feat, I know, but we can merely begin here, right where we are, by seeing ourselves and our physical forms through eyes of compassion and moving toward self acceptance. When we love ourselves, we empower ourselves to truly feel love and more generously give love. Isn’t that what we all want, anyway?
I share with you here, a photo of myself, make-up free and I feel sincere gratitude for your love and acceptance of my physical form.
My inner and outer selves are radiantly attractive right now. I love my beautiful self and honor my most authentic and natural state of being.
YOU are truly beautiful, and your beautiful self is worthy of every beautiful blessing in life. Your radiant soul shines through every cell of your body and you attract magic and divinity into your life! Namaste. xo