Changing the outside doesn’t change the inside.
I tell my parents this when they cluck over my tattoos. I want to say, “I’m still your daughter!” Just with more colorful packaging.
I remember learning this lesson myself the hard way when I was dealing with disordered eating. If you hate the way you look, and you think going on a diet is going to make you feel better, it won’t. Your body may get smaller, but that’s no guarantee you will love yourself. I promise you I was still as miserable at 93 pounds as I was at 130 lbs. I still felt “too fat,” I still wanted to lose “just five more pounds,” I still wore loose clothing to hide my imagined “problem areas.” Stop.
I know changing the outside doesn’t change the inside…and yet…
I am counting down the days to my first ever dermatologist appointment, hoping against hope to find a cure for the acne that has been my millstone for twenty years. I know the outside doesn’t change the inside, and people like me for who I am, but I can’t help but worry that people will see the spots on my face and think I’m dirty, or sick, or don’t care about my appearance when in reality, I am desperate to fix my face.
I have tried everything from scrubs, to vitamin supplements, to stupid Pinterest home cures (high five if you’ve ever slept with toothpaste on a zit and woke up to find it WORSE in the morning). I feel like people must have to like me in spite of my appearance, and I feel bad for foisting it upon them, like it’s asking so much to look past what is skin deep and love me anyway.
So many times I have wondered, “Would I have got that audition if I didn’t have that massive pimple?” or thought “I know I nailed that job interview, but who am I kidding? Sephora wouldn’t hire me with a face full of bumps.” Getting compliments on my photos means nothing because I know I’ve adjusted the filters to tone down the darkness of blackheads, and lightened the shadows on that crop of whiteheads on my cheek.
I know this makes me a hypocrite, but I can’t stop hoping against hope that after I see this doctor, I’ll never have to take another aspirin and cold-compress for a massive bump taking over my face. I just want to run to the corner store for some milk without having to apply a face full of concealer, lest the bodega clerk give me That Look.
Will changing the outside change my inside? Will I be able to change my inside if the outside never changes? Wanna call me a hypocrite? Shallow? Am I? Are we all? Let’s talk.