A Volatile Relationship

Today, I write in honor of my skin. My skin is a part of me that I have had a love/hate relationship for years. Much of the time, it was hate. I have spent hours of my life fantasizing what it would be like to have perfect skin. Skin free of blemishes and not a pore in sight, what an amazing idea. Jealousy would churn in me while facing people with flawless faces.

While I still struggle with this volatile relationship with my skin, I am improving and determined to focus on the positives. From a biological perspective, of course I love my skin. It keeps me alive. It prevents disease from entering my body with its shielding nature. For those who believe in evolution, skin is an almost magical creation. It prevents things in the environment from entering the body, while being flexible for us to move. It is waterproof, and helps our body regulate temperature through sweating. Even though my skin is nowhere near perfect, its power of protection and life are pretty spectacular.

I would love to always maintain this perspective of biology, but granted, I live in a society where appearance is valued. A while ago, I was working at a children summer camp. Part of camp is that everyone is filthy. Camp counselors take a shower once a week as time permits. I remember feeling very self-conscious of my greasy skin. One of the kids came up to me and complimented me on my skin. At first, I did not believe her. I assumed she was being ironic and actually secretly teasing me about my poor complexion. But she wasn’t. She was completely genuine.

While I usually am so focused on my breakouts, I sometimes am oblivious to my pretty rad tan. I have a beautiful olive complexion that is rare with my German decent. In the summer, my sun-kissed hair gracefully highlights my bronzed cheek bones. While it is so easy for me to focus on my physical flaws, the reality is that I am my own worst critique. In reality, the girl from camp was noticing my golden tone, and I was quick to assume the worst.

I write this post to make a conscious effort to not assume the worst when it comes to my self-image. I want to try to stop and see its beauty. While it is human nature to be self-critical, I will continue to fight this predisposition and learn to appreciate my skin for what it is – beautiful.