April 17, 2017
This week I kind of lost my mind.
In preparation for a vacation, one of the little Emilys inside my head decided that we needed to be completely acne free. COMPLETELY or else nothing was good and the world was going to start spinning backwards so fast that it would fling all of the livestock into space and cause humans to have no milk, no meat, and no sausage (a true tragedy). And God knows humans need milk, meat, and sausage. So I decided to use a (doctor prescribed) medication to rid myself of these little nasties.
I was constantly putting the cream on, leaving it on all day, washing it off in the evening, applying more, and leaving it on all night. Repeat, repeat, repeat. I did this for a few days, until my skin started to peel in some places. But that was a side effect of the medication that I had experienced before, so I applied (doctor prescribed) lotion and continued my process.
Then my mom pointed out a couple of red patches on my chest. I looked in the mirror and found them on my shoulders as well. It felt like sunburn, even though it was not sunburn.
The medication had burned my skin because I was using it so frequently, and not as the doctor had prescribed. I wanted my skin to be flawless, and yet, I ended up with nothing but the acne and small, red splotches. I used aloe on the burns, and it helped soothe them, but now I’m left feeling so ridiculous for wanting that flawless skin. I wanted it so bad that I didn’t care if and how that medication would affect my skin.
Isn’t that so twisted? I didn’t care that that medication could hurt my skin. I knew full well when I was applying it that I was putting a lot on. I knew that it could do something to my skin, but I didn’t care. It was a passing thought on the way to “Acne-freeSkin Town!!” (I hope the weather is nice there.)
Our concept of beauty in America has lead me to believe that any blemish on my skin – whether it be acne or even a freckle – is ugly and needs to be covered in some way. Isn’t that exactly what concealer is for? We spend hours perfecting our faces. We have to get that perfect eyeliner wing or fill in our eyebrows, and of course, cover up any and all blemishes.
Make-up dates all the way back to the Egyptians. Although it isn’t known exactly when make up was invented, the Egyptians are credited with inventing lipstick about 5,000 years ago. The Ancient Greeks and Romans also used cosmetics during their time, painting their eye lids and applying lipstick for “face decoration.”
Face decoration. Decoration as in to make it prettier or worth looking at. Decoration as in it isn’t pretty enough on its own. I don’t know exactly what the Greeks and Romans decorated their faces for, but that definitely sounds like what we use it for today.
I went just over two months without wearing any kind of make-up. I didn’t touch the mascara or the eye liner or the concealer and I was okay with that. I was okay with the little bit of acne that was there. It was from stress and maybe too much chocolate (probably more so the latter than the former tobehonest), and it didn’t bother me. I never once felt that I was being judged for having acne.
And then one day I decided I was going to wear make-up. I woke up one day and I looked in the mirror, and I heard that same stupid Emily whisper, “You gotta wear make-up today.” So I did. And then I did for a few days after that as well, and you know what, I felt pretty. I hadn’t realized that all that time I wasn’t wearing make-up, I wasn’t feeling “pretty”; I was feeling “okay.” I felt as if my natural beauty was just a shrug. What is beauty if my face isn’t flawless, clear of every blemish and full of make-up? (Spoiler alert: It’s a lot of things.)
So that brings me to the question, what is your concept of beauty?
For me, I think that it’s really simple. You can be as beautiful as you want on the outside. You go girl, get that perfect wing, fill in those eyebrows, slay that contour! Do your thing! I, personally, will wake up twenty minutes before I have to be somewhere and not care that my face is bare. I’m lazy, and most of the time, I’m tired. My concept of beauty doesn’t have to do with make-up. (What I’m about to say may make you cringe with cliche, but I’m going to say it anyway, because it’s way true.) My concept of beauty is how your face twists when you laugh so hard you are doubled over, squeaking because you just can’t find the sound. What makes you so happy that you smile so big, showing teeth and gums and all. What makes you so excited you jump up and down and can’t control your squeals. What makes your eyes light up when are talking about your favorite thing in the world. What your heart beats for, and how you share that with the world. I want to see those things on people in excitement and passion and joy, and reflecting in people while speaking and laughing and crying. That’s my concept of beauty, because I think when you are doing any of those things, you are the most beautiful you have ever been – even on prom nights and when you wear your best outfit of the week. It’s all of the things that you are reflecting on the outside, making you nearly flawless.
I won’t judge you because you have acne. I won’t. I’ll judge myself until the cows come home for it, but I will never look at a person and think they’re anything other than beautiful even though their skin is considered flawed at that moment in time.
There is so much more to us than acne or anything else that you might have on your skin. There really is. The concept of beauty doesn’t begin and end with make-up or fashion. Beauty goes way deeper than the surface (you can cringe now, but you can’t deny that this isn’t true 🙂 ).
If you’re interested: Just last year there was a fashion show put on by Malaysian fashion designer Moto Guo that sent models down the runway with acne on their faces. The acne was created by make-up, of course, but still sent a really great message: it’s okay to have acne and blemishes. This fashion show wasn’t widely talked about, but I still think it’s pretty cool. (Disclaimer: the article mentions people who say that acne is “in”. I don’t think that acne is necessarily “in” or a fashion trend seeing as it’s a sensitive subject for some, but I do however believe these models showed people that acne doesn’t define you.)