Learning to Love the Skin I’m in

Newsflash: I’m not perfect.

Carry on.

All the brouhaha in the media nowadays about plus size and curvy women being beautiful no matter their size just makes me feel less perfect.

I guess it’s the in thing for women to now like how they look? I dunno…what if you don’t?

I was quite happy ( not really!) hiding my lumps, bumps, covering my scars and imperfections in a million different ways.

But now everyone’s all #effyourbeautystandards and I’m like, huh?!

Bare it all.

Let it all hang out!

Be you!


Nothing wrong with it, more power to you!

But I’m 40- something, I don’t think I could, could I?

I’m pretty ok with my shape. I’m not plus size, not skinny. Motherhood and an intense aversion to exercise has done its job.

No, my issue with confidence comes from my skin.

Yep, the part that everyone sees. ­čśę

It’s scarred, pigmented in splotches, darkened where clothing chafes against it, and super sensitive to sunlight. ┬áI once tried to use Veet on my underarms ( the one for sensitive skin- I’m not an idiot!) and the skin peeled off in layers for days afterwards.

I keep it covered in part to protect it, but also because I find it ugly. I admire women of any ethnicity and race who have even toned skin with nary a mark or scratch.

Other women want slim bodies, thicker hair, bigger butts, titties and lips.  I just want to change my skin. The only skin on my body not affected by scars or pigmentation is below the waist, in other words, the bits no-one really gets to see!

So, inspired by this blog from one of my favourite bloggers, I decided to capture my flaws on camera and show it the world.

I also wanted to challenge myself and really look at my skin and either come to terms with it or find a way to fix it.

Brace yourselves! 

*no filters or special lighting was used. I took all of it in the bathroom where the light was best.

Face:


I have tried every cream and potion on the market. Lasers will most likely help, short term. Makeup helps to camouflage but I have to apply thicker layers each time.

Neck:


The part I feel most affects me, because I feel a neck should be a thing of beauty on a woman.

I was teased a lot at school because people thought I didn’t bathe regularly, but in reality, I wash it so much that it darkens the skin! Yep, the chafing is what makes it dark.

A dermatologist assured me it wasn’t Acanthosis Nigricans which can be related to diabetes and obesity. My skin is just sensitive AF!

Chest:


I’m one of those women who has to wear makeup all the way to her nipples.

Yes, you read that correctly. If I choose to wear a low cut or open necked shirt I have to apply foundation ALL the way!

Underarms:


Since I don’t walk around with my arms in the air, this isn’t really a problem.

Except it is when you live in the desert and deodorant is a prerequisite. I have to shell out untold amounts of money for natural deodorant because the regular kind burns and stings.

Arms:


I’m surprised that it looks this light on the picture ( no filter, promise!) because it really is the bane of my existence.

I have seen people stare when I expose it, and prefer to keep it covered. It goes really dark in the sun and can be itchy at times. I have to be careful when doing my weekly body scrub because it will react to any irritation.

Hands:


My hands are ugly.

As a counterpoint I keep my nails really well manicured. But the blotches and splotches break my heart, and as I’m ageing the skin seems to be getting worse.

I can’t really keep them out of the sun, but I do use a good handcream ( Dermologica’s AGE smart, Multivitamin Hand & Nail treatment) with SPF.

Looking at the pics I can’t help but feel ugly. I don’t feel good looking at them.

But apart from a full chemical peel, there’s nothing more I can do. Doctors assure me it would probably make it worse. I do weekly full body scrubs using those scrubby glove thingies, wash up to twice a day using Dove white soap, slather on plant based oils and creams ( fragrance and colour irritate) and sleep in light cotton or silk pyjamas.

My skin is silky smooth as a result, but it looks awful!

Recently I’ve started trying natural remedies like lemon, turmeric and rice flour, but with little success. Baking soda with lemon worked rubbed weekly onto my underarms, until the lemon juice wasn’t rinsed off properly and burned little holes in my skin. So now I’m using Bio – Oil to help that heal faster.

13

I’ve read every peer reviewed and dermatologist approved article and paper, so I fully understand what causes it and why it happens. Genetics play a big role and I can’t exactly go back and change that. A family history of porphyria probably exacerbates the sensitivity a bit.

That doesn’t mean I’m happier about the way I look though. Most of my friends and family like to say ” Agh, it’s not that bad!”, as if it’s a consolation prize.

It affects my life in untold ways.

For example, I’m pretty kick ass at work because I’m extremely good at what I do. I would be super confident about a presentation and really get into it, until I notice someone look at my hands or arms and give that ever -so- slight- frown.

That’s it…confidence shot to hell! I’ll spend the rest of the day avoiding eye contact and staying in my office.

Another instance would be when hubby and I would go out. I’m not bad looking and I have a banging butt! I’ll go to take off my jacket and notice the person at the next table look at my arms and then quickly look away. Like they’re ashamed to be caught looking? The night is ruined for me.

Or when I’d be talking with one of G’s school pals’s mom, and notice the way she glances at my neck. Women in the UAE are very groomed, very well styled and pay alot of attention to their looks. I feel like the troll under the bridge sometimes!

I keep it covered with shirt collars and scarves, but it does make the condition worse. Some days I have to go to work with a bare neck just to get some relief, and am constantly wondering what people must be thinking.

I don’t go to public pools, or to the gym for the same reason. People will always stare.

I’m super vigilant with G’s skin. Any mark, lesion or scratch is analysed, taken to a doctor or chemist and monitored. Thankfully she seems to have perfectly normal skin. I will have her tested for porphyria when she’s older. In the meantime I slather on the SPF, make her wear sunhats everywhere she goes and make sure she never burns in the hot desert sun.

Some days I’m ok with it, but the worst days are when my skin is itchy, my clothes irritate and chafe and I’ve got to go somewhere.

Clothes used to be big issue.

Until I could afford the better quality silks, cashmeres and cottons ( thank heavens for Everlane!) my days were one endless attempt to NOT SCRATCH! Natural fibres allow my skin to breathe and maintain it’s natural pH levels. Polyester, rayon or blended fabrics are no -no’s.

Other than body makeup all day every day, there’s not much I can do about it. Like I said, doctor’s aren’t hopeful that lasers would be the way to go, creams and lotions only lighten temporarily, and adjusting my diet only relieves the sensitivity somewhat.

I reckon I could be an old lady of 80 and still not be happy with the skin I’m in. It is what it is. Not even hubby or closest friends know much it affects my confidence. There are days I just want to hide under the covers rather than face the mirror.

But, there’s hope, ja?

I mean if plus – sized women and girls can gather their courage and accept themselves warts and all, maybe I can too.┬áPerhaps I should start the movement to “love the skin you’re in”?

IMG_4535

What do you guys think? Do you have flaws that affects the way you perceive yourself? And how do you deal with it? Show me some love in the comments.

Until next I blog, 

K.

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