Change Inside & Out

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.


11 responses to “Change Inside & Out”

  1. When I look at you, I'm drawn to your eyes and your smile.

    1. Thank you so much! I wish I could change my inside to believe that! That would be the real life-changer, wouldn't it?

  2. I also agree with Peter! I also understand where you're coming from. I think it's only natural to care what the wrapping looks like, as long as it doesn't lead to or perpetuate disordered thinking. Going to a derm isn't a bad thing. I go once a year to get screened because I refuse to use sunblock. I was also fortunate enough to have relatively clear skin, even in HS, but like your derm woes, I have dental woes. My one canine never dropped all the way and it makes me incredibly self-conscious.

    1. Thanks so much for your thoughtful and lovely comment! I think I am worried about leading to disordered thinking (which I alluded to, but that's a post for another time).

      Thanks for opening up about your tooth insecurity! Wow! I probably would never notice your teeth. I think when we're insecure about something in ourselves, we fixate on it in other people. "Wow, her skin is so clear!" "Wow, her teeth are so white!" "Wow, her waist is so tiny!" "Wow, her boobs are flawless!" and we don't realize they may be insecure about their bodies in ways we'd never imagine. Keepin' the blogosphere real!!

  3. Aw, I love the lovely comments you've gotten so far. Yay good people. I want to say I've been following your blog for years and I never once had any idea you had skin troubles. I know that isn't the point. I know all too well because I have pretty much the same issues- every year I'm like "Maybe age 23-24-25-26-27-28 is FINALLY the year I stop having acne!" I've tried so many things hoping that *this* one will finally be the thing that works!

    I went to a dermatologist too- "if I finally spend the money and get professional help, it has to work". The derm was super sweet but she gave me antibiotics that games me constant yeast infections (TMI but beware! also seems like a horrible idea to take antibiotics everyday) and the prescription creams and wash did help my acne but they really dried out and irritated my skin. Not the magic cure I was hoping for. But it totally could be for you! Fingers crossed!

    Here's what helped me finally: About a year ago I started using LUSH products- they're all natural- and I don't know if it was finally the right timing (at age 29!) or the actual products but my skin is not perfect (I can't even imagine that life!) but soooo much! I imagine you've heard of them and likely even tried them- I know how annoying it is to hear someone else's magic cure that didn't work for you. But if you haven't tried LUSH…..I'll go on and on with recommendations!! [end of blog-post-length comment!] <3

    1. oh man, typo city! sorry!
      2nd paragraph *GAVE not games
      3rd para "sooooo much *BETTER"

    2. Thank you so much! WOW! Filters, amirite? I also suspect that we are more harsh on ourselves than other people are when they judge us. I MUST BE FLAWLESS!! My birthday candle wish has been clear skin since I turned twelve. I've had periods where it's been better, and periods when it's been way, way worse. I hear people have mixed results when they finally see a doctor, but I finally have health insurance and it's worth it to me to try and now I'm looking at THAT as my magic "Maybe after December 28th I'll finally start to be able to feel normal…"

      I've heard great buzz about Lush! Which products specifically do you use? I'm open to suggestions – I mean, hell, I've tried just about every one of them! I take Biotin daily, wash my face no more than twice a day, NEVER touch my skin, wash my pillow cases and towels obsessively, and have tried every product and home cure out there from Clearasil and mud masks to home-made honey nutmeg masks and toothpaste.

      Ironically, nothing has ever helped as much as this: talking about it. Wow. Change from the Inside, huh?

      (( but seriously what are those Lush products you use hold on lemme get a notebook and write this down ))

  4. I see my derm every three months. Every six I get a full skin check. She's found squamous cell carcinoma three times including one spot the size of a hazelnut.
    Whatever you put on your skin, make some of it sunscreen. SPF at least 30.

    1. Right on. I live by sunscreen to protect the tattoos, but I've never been checked over just in case. I'm nervous now!

  5. We always notice our own flaws more than other people do. That doesn't make it easier to deal with though I know. Hopefully the dermatologist will help you find a solution that will help your feel more comfortable. 🙂

    1. I know. Now my high hopes are starting to wane, I worry I'll be cursed with this face for the rest of my life, but accepting it is slowly becoming an option I can live with.

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