I googled: “How to quickly get rid of a pimple”. Results: ‘whatever you do, do not pop the blemish!’
Obviously I had already popped the pimple so I then googled: “how to quickly get rid of a pimple after you’ve popped it”.
Results: ‘you can’t and it’s too late… kill yourself, love google’**
I realised a few weeks ago that I am really mean. I say terrible, heinous things and I cannot seem to stop. Relax. I don’t say them to or about other people, I say these things to myself. Every day.
Every day I wake up, cheerfully inform my cat that it’s time to get up and when I go into my bathroom I look at my face say out loud: “Yuck.” Not aggressively, just a quirky affirmation.
After I get out of the shower to begin my strenuous beauty regimen, I say “You’re gross today, grosser than yesterday.” After I put on my makeup, I do my best Mia Thermopolis and say, “This is as good as it’s gonna get.”
When I go to the bathroom at work, I look up at myself washing my hands and in 0.3 seconds I have identified everything wrong with my appearance
- Your acne is noticeable
- That bit on your scalp is flaking again
- Your nose is too long
- Lips look dry OR lip gloss looks stupid
- Hair is fuzzy OR ends are dry (sometimes it’s both!)
- Is this really the outfit that won?
- How chubby is your face right now?!
- Your arms are also fat
- You look bloated
- Get your eyebrows done!
- Your posture is terrible
- The lines around your eyes are really aging you.
- Your pores are massive
- Your cheap make-up sucks
Then I sit back to my desk and go back to work like nothing ever happened. As though I didn’t just tear myself down. I do this every day, every time I go to a bathroom or I see a mirror. I can’t stop myself. I am so obsessed with my flaws that I can think of nothing else for the two minutes it takes me to wash and dry my hands. All I can think about is how I am not pretty.
To be clear, I don’t scream at myself, I don’t weep and smash the mirror, stare at myself reflected in the shattered remains of the glass and conclude that the fractured glass is a reflection of my shattered soul. I’m not that dramatic. I state it, like a fact, like “hello my name is Lisa, i’m 27 and my face isn’t symmetrical.”
And I know I shouldn’t be thinking about my appearance so often because I know just how vain I am sounding right now…and as Fuel sings, all that shimmers in this world is sure to fade. But can we be real for a second? I think we all want that. We all want to be pretty, we all want to look nice and put together. Maybe not everyone wants it to the same extent as me, but I am fairly confident that most of us want to be the ex-girlfriend that your ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend looks up on Instagram and says, “Wow, she was really pretty.”****
I can’t remember exactly why or when I noticed that I am horrible to myself (if you think this begins and ends with my appearance… well that’s a whole other essay), maybe I was really busy at work one day that I forgot to tear myself to pieces. But one day I came out of the bathroom, messaged my friend who sits two metres away from me and confessed my crime of bullying myself relentlessly in the bathroom.
She was sympathetic to my insanity and told me that every day I need to tell her something I like about myself. The problem is, I don’t know how many times I can say “my hair looks great” or “I like how green my eyes are today.” I put so much effort into my hair because it needs to distract from my face. And my eyes are green because I’ve probably just watched Grey’s Anatomy which has made me cry, which has in turn made my eyes go red and the green just POPS.
And before you say: “Wow, I can’t believe that show is still on tv!?” OR “Why do you watch something that makes you cry?” My answer is this: You are DAMN RIGHT that show is still on TV and HELL YEAH am I sticking with Meredith! I’ve been with her since 2005 and if you think I’m going to stop watching now just because everyone she loves inevitably dies, then you are living in a FANTASY LAND MY FRIEND!!
I am really passionate about Grey’s Anatomy and I don’t care if it makes me weepy.
So the positive pep talk died in the ass immediately because I just couldn’t bring myself to it.
A few weeks after my revelation, my face broke out so badly that I worked from home for a day. I couldn’t bear to let other people see me. I told another friend about this when I returned the day after and she told me very matter-of-factly; “you have body dysmorphia.” To which I said “no, I have a mirror.” I shut it down so quickly that I didn’t even consider what she was saying.
In a way, she is correct. I have conditioned myself to see the flaws of my design. Even if I am dressed to the nines, makeup is immaculate, not a hair out of place, I still stare at my reflection and sadly shake my head in dismay because it is not enough.
I am very aware that this is not healthy behaviour. How do I combat this terrible negativity that I torture myself with? Therapy is the obvious answer but I have only just awoken to myself and I stubbornly want to figure it out on my own.
I started with a positive note on my bathroom mirror.
“Be kind to yourself”
Because I am not a monster who deserves this severe dressing down to every time I catch my reflection. I put another positive note on my full length mirror.
“You are not the worst”
I am not the worst, you know who was the worst? Hitler. I added another note to my fridge.
I read somewhere once that your brain stops with the negativity for a moment when your face constructs a smile, I can’t remember the science of it but I know that for me, it works.
I added another to my front door.
“Everything will be okay ☺”
Which it will, my blemishes are NOT the end of the world and my flaky scalp doesn’t make me look like a lizard person. In reality I don’t stare at other people’s faces and stare wide eyed at their blemishes. So why am I so convinced that people are doing this to me?
The positive notes have been hanging up for a few days. I am not cured but I am the one who has been torturing myself for many years so I am expecting that it may take many more to undo the mistake.
I popped the pimple, so now I have to wait for it to heal and actively try not to do it again.
**this is not what google said, this is what my inner voice says when I look at my reflection.
***again, google did not tell me this, google tries to help me, but I shun that help and continue to berate myself for not looking perfect.
****She says “was pretty” like you’re dead now. Which you are, because google told you to basically kill yourself because of your horrendous acne.