So I managed to not get lost in the second guessing soup.
Because I am now obsessed with the aliens who have landed on my chin. They are happily building deep, painful craters that flare up every morning. They make me wish I was the evil queen with a magic mirror.
Acne, my resolute confidence smasher.
For the longest time, I struggled with body image (which in my definition also includes acne). It was mainly mood and /or day driven. If on a Monday I was obsessing about my thundering thighs, on a Wednesday, the preoccupation would turn onto my fat arms and by the time Friday rolled around, I was brooding about my lack of boobs.
There was always something to be troubled with. My extra weight or my chubbyness added to this dynamic, especially in my teens.
I was into sports in middle and high school. Despite being rotund, I was extremely flexible and quick on my feet. I played a mean game of badminton. Often people would be taken aback when they found out about my game. My built automatically made them think that I was more suited for a sport that needed muscle strength like wrestling, weight lifting, javelin or discuss throw.
Darn first impressions.
People often commented on my weight. But I don’t recall ever getting bogged down by them until this one experience. My teammates and I were in a rigorous coaching camp, preparing for the upcoming nationals. It was our physical training hour in the morning. After completing a 10 m run, we were back indoors, stretching and doing floor exercises. A senior was helping me with some sit ups. I was exhausted, drained and was generally struggling to get to the fifty I needed to complete the set. I slowed down and that irritated my senior. He slapped my knees hard and literally yelled, you fatso, you will never be good at this game if you don’t do anything about your weight. And with that, he left, his face donning a look of disgust.
While I laid there gobsmacked, embarrassed and close to tears.
I came home with the glum-est look ever. I recall locking myself in my room and bawling. I decided not to talk to my parents but write them a letter. This letter was one of my firsts to them and in it I pleaded to them to not force me to eat, to help me check what goes into my body. I pleaded that despite my undying love for chicken, I was willing to sacrifice it for the rest of my life just so I can stop ridiculing myself in front of others.
I’d like to think that this was one of the turning points in my life but I am not sure. It definitely made me realize that I was wrong to believe that people’s taunts and jibes about my weight didn’t bother me. They did. Immensely. They quietly gnawed away at my self-esteem, my confidence. I started wearing loose-fitting or over-sized clothes. I used to wear my father’s. Friends and family members thought this was my attempt to be cool but to me, this was the easiest way to hide, to not call attention to my body.
Eventually, in my early twenties, I lost a whole lot of weight. Not because I took care of what I ate. Not because I gave up on chicken. It was because of an unhealthy lifestyle of skipping meals, living on chai and biscuits, smoking, late nights and such. But despite becoming the thin person I always yearned to be, I continued my struggles with body image.
My thighs and arms still looked fat and flabby to me.
My boobs continued to be non-existent.
My nose, too large.
My acne, a constant companion.
I have traversed a long way in the journey of body image. I am better off. I am no longer bothered by my thighs or my unshapely arms or my large nose. Boobs, well as long as I have them and not lose them to cancer, their size is irrelevant. But my acne is a different story all together. I continue to struggle with it. I continue to allow them to affect me. I continue to give them free pass to make me feel insecure, unattractive.
I am not a make-up person but in the recent years, I have relied on it heavily. To mask the flare ups, my increasing dark spots (new development) so much so that I feel like a layered cake with tons of unpalatable icing.
Why do you have to use make up? my daughter asked me once as we were getting ready to go to an event.
To hide my acne. One of the many wishes I have for you is this-that you don’t get my skin, was my response.
But lately I am beginning to question whether I really need to hide behind make up. I would love to step out of the house without a pinch of foundation on my face. It’s not a ‘should I’ but a ‘can I’ question.
I have been regularly asking myself this question. And the best answer I can muster is ‘I cannot’.
I am afraid I will look awful. I am afraid my red, flared up pimple will distract folks from listening to me. I am afraid that my kids will be embarrassed to be seen with their mom.
I am afraid.
I am fucking insecure. The first thing I see when I look in the mirror are the damn craters on my chin. Nothing else. My somewhat pleasing face totally disappears. And this is exactly what I believe will happen when I step out without make up.
I am quick to reveal many of my insecurities. But this one is and has been a tough one for me.
I want to be that woman who is content, is at peace with who they are, how they look. As much as I have succeeded in following my heart and not worrying about other people’s judgments as far as body image is concerned, I am not there yet.
I have a lot of growing up to do.
In other words, I will continue to be a work in progress. It isn’t a bad thing as long as I don’t let my acne insecurity take over my life.
I am confident that I will get to not relying on make-up one day. That I will be able to step out of the house, meet people and not get conscious of the Martians happily partying on my skin.
I am working on moving the needle from I cannot to I can.