Recently I sat down at one of the makeup counters on my lunch break at work and requested that the associate give me a makeover since it was slow. Five years ago I never would have dreamed of going to work without makeup, but four years in the grocery industry taught me tmost people don’t notice, and you generally sweat it off at the end of the day anyway. I also realized that I, myself, have become comfortable enough in my own skin that I can skip sometimes. I still wear it most days, but that morning, my bank account informed me that making my lunch was going to be more important than putting on my face.
We started picking foundations together (and that’s a whole ‘nother post) and when she started applying it, she casually mentioned I had “gorgeous” skin. I laughed off the compliment and made some crack about having pores the size Coors Field, but was internally reeling. She’d been the six or seventh person this year to say I had great skin — which considering I had such terrible acne until my mid-20s, was totally foreign to me. All of a sudden, here in my early 30s, I was getting complimented a lot on what I had considered to be my biggest physical imperfection for the last 20 years.
Unlike most women, my weight has never been a significant source of self-esteem. While I’m not thin, I grew up in a house that celebrated being plus size and was told repeatedly that I was beautiful at any size. On the flip side, I’d been struggling with severe to moderate acne consistently since I was ten — and it wasn’t until I was in my late 20s did it finally clear up to “mild” acne. I still get the occasional juicy one and I’ll never get rid of the blackheads on my nose, but when I sit down and look at myself in the mirror, I’ve got a decent complexion.
Does the image of myself in my head coincide match up with this realization? Not really. In my head, I still think of myself as a zit-ridden chick who’s life is measured in acne-fighting cleanser and concealer. My epiphany is that this self-image will not line up with reality unless I put some work into it.
My first step is to take stock of what I like about my physical appearance and what I dislike about it. I will then figure out what can be actively improved upon versus something I just have to accept. I also need to rank these things in importance — is it actually worth the time to try a new hair color instead of blah dishwater blond? Will I absolutely just die if I don’t have a luscious booty in time for New Zealand and am forever stuck in the land of Flat Ass? Can I take pride in being pale-skinned rather than being tan?
The second part is going to be harder. It’s actually changing what I dislike and can be changed. I can research home hair-coloring techniques and exercise routines until I’m blue in the face, but it doesn’t do any good if I don’t utilize them. I need to do daily celebrations about what I do like about myself. Working with my therapist will help, and a consultation with my regular doctor to figure out what suppliments and physical routines would be good for me. I have arthritis, so not every type of excersize is going to be right for me — and while we’re at it, I really hate the fact that I’m 32 and have arthritis and the beginnings of a dowager’s hump. I will ask my doctor how this can be alleviated.
There may be something I overlooked, though. Is there any tips and tricks y’all have for developing a more positive self image?