Sunday, November 13, 2011

Monthly Homework Assignment: Naked Faces

To be honest, Professor, I wasn't too enthused about this homework assignment-but I decided to do it anyway, because I'm a good student like that! Here's the thing-you will almost NEVER see me in real life without makeup. Now, the casual viewer might find this puzzling, as I don lipstick perhaps two or three times a month (if I remember), am a disaster with eyeshadow, and I can't even really do eyeliner. However, I am an A-1 level expert in foundation and powder. I do concealer and coverup like nobody's business. And I still feel like people are secretly grossed out by me. Why? Well, here's my naked face:

This is me, right out of the shower. The picture doesn't show it near as much as it does in real life, but I have pretty awful skin. Just my luck-the one time I want to actually show what my skin looks like, and the light/camera Photoshops me without my consent. My pores are huge, I constantly have zits, and even on the very rare occasions when I don't have two or more actively growing pimples, it's guaranteed that I will have scabs healing over from the last ones. I have moderate scarring one my cheeks and chin, and just generally feel awful about how my skin looks when I don't have the friendly help of NYC and Neutrogena. I've had acne literally for as long as I can remember-my mom says I first started getting pimples when I was five or six, and I've never stopped.

I've had many wars with myself over my skin, especially as I've gotten older. As I have become more fervently feminist, I've tried to talk myself out of wearing makeup all the time; after all, very few women actually have perfect skin, and it's just another in a vast, overwhelming set of  impossible patriarchal beauty standards. I've told friends who also have acne that they are beautiful, and meant it entirely. After all, why should a measly thing like a couple of zits stop someone from being pretty? But saying it to others and believing it about myself are two entirely different things.

It's kind of sad, actually how much my skin dominates my thoughts and my life. I know that I feel truly comfortable with someone when I can be around them not wearing makeup and not feel self-conscious. When I'm all dressed up in a pretty dress and corset, with my hair done nice and full-blown lipstick and eyeshadow (with the eye makeup preferably done by someone else!), I will look in the mirror and think: Wow, I could almost look pretty-if it wasn't for my skin. I kinda want to punch commercials that say things like "Love the skin you're in" and then use models with flawless (or flawlessly airbrushed) skin-of COURSE it's easy to love your skin when it's perfect! I carry a powder compact with me everywhere and ruthlessly blot at any sign of shininess or oiliness-in addition to my acne, I of course have a daily oil production that rivals the output of the entire Middle East.

Sometimes it seems as though I've always been at war with my own skin-a neverending battle in which it trounces my self-esteem, my confidence, and my faith in myself. There's a little, niggling voice in the back of my head that always whispers at me because of my skin-it says things like "See that guy over there? He might talk to you, if you weren't covered in zits." Or "Are you just wearing those outrageous outfits so no one notices the person underneath the clothes?" I know this voice is silly, that it's stupid and wrong and that no one else actually thinks that way; that doesn't make it affect me any less. However, every exercise like this; every time I see other beautiful, brilliant bloggers who aren't Photoshop perfect but are nonetheless lovely; every time I go out in public without makeup, as I did today, and no one screams or snickers or flees in terror, I feel like I gain a little bit of ground. And maybe those little bits will add up into a lot, and I will feel comfortable in my own skin. Until then, I'll keep trying; I'll put on my primer, my foundation, and my powder, and I'll pretend that makes me feel pretty and perfectly confident. Maybe, if I keep pretending hard enough, someday it'll stop being pretending and start being real.


  1. Darling, thanks for being so honest and upfront about your skin. And let me tell you something -- YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL. Period. End of case. I really think you glow with a gorgeous light. So, HUGS from NYC!!!! And be kind to yourself. Seriously.

  2. Oh, Jamie! This could be me talking! I know these problems all too well. And like you, I always see beauty in others but never in myself.
    But one thing is absolutely true for the both of us: it's only you & me finding our skin horrible. In reality, it's not!
    You're beautiful! Don't prevent yourself from seeing that!

  3. This post touched my heart, because I struggled with cystic acne for two full decades and I can relate to how much it affects your self-esteem and can dominate your thoughts.

    I think our skin always looks much worse to ourselves than it does to everyone else (partly because we get up close and personal with the mirror)!! You have a very pretty face shape, gorgeous eyes and a lovely hair color, all of which people most definitely will notice waaaaay before they notice one or two blemishes. And the reason you dress fabulous is because you ARE fabulous! :)

  4. The first thing I noticed about you was your pretty eyes.... and I'm sure that is true for others as well.

    I suspect the light/camera didn't Photoshop you as much as you think. The photo is probably a far more accurate image of you than the one you give yourself credit for. :)