The human body is an amazing thing. If we learn to listen to our bodies, we often know what they need. If we are tired, we know to rest. If we are hungry, we know to eat. If we smell, we know to clean ourselves. The list could go on and on.
If only life were as simple as our bodies telling us what we need, and us responding in healthy ways. But what happens when your body doesn’t always work the way it’s supposed to?
I am young, and for the most part, healthy, so I thankfully have not experienced the embodiment of a terminal illness, neither do I claim to understand what it feels like to experience it. I do, however, have a genetic condition that I am reminded of every time I look in the mirror, and sometimes even oftener than that.
I am talking about cystic acne. It is not just the typical acne that one has as a teenager, that consists typically of black heads and white heads. That indeed can be very annoying, but what I am talking about is a condition that lingers beneath the surface of my skin – to the point where I cannot even reach the actual problem no matter how much I try to pick at it.
When we look at pictures of models, I imagine that each of us secretly has a part of the body that we are drawn to because it is something we feel we are lacking. For some, it may be a slim waist or a plump butt, but for me, it’s clear skin. No, it’s not because of beauty standards and I don’t feel I’m “pretty enough,” whatever that means. I have at times wrestled with the idea that perhaps I’m not as beautiful as I could be, but that does not bother me as much as the feeling of not being healthy. I feel self conscious having pictures taken because my face literally feels dirty. I take a shower and the rest of my body feels smooth and clean except for my face. I can feel the inflammation and the bacteria beneath the surface, and I can’t feel clean enough no matter what face wash or moisturizer I use.
Sometimes my face hurts, badly. I like to think I have a moderate-to-high tolerance for pain, but skin on the face is such a sensitive area that it is almost an entirely different ballpark. Good luck trying to scratch that itch on your chin without breaking into tears – unless you break out with more bloody bumps first. Sometimes young children ask me what’s wrong with my face, and to simplify the situation I tell them that there are boo-boos on my face. One time a little girl asked me if I needed a band-aid. I thought it was very sweet, although I declined.
I guess all that to say that our bodies age, they get sick, one day they die. While they are put together to work a certain way, sometimes they don’t, and that can be frustrating at times. I am generally comfortable with my appearance; for me it is not so much an issue of being beautiful as it is one of being healthy, and sometimes I just don’t feel healthy no matter how much I do to take care of my body.