Home > emolicious, life > masked vanity

masked vanity

It’s time to come clean.

A silent battle has been raging in me for so long I can barely remember what it was like before it began. I feel as though my life has been abruptly divided into the before and after of when I first developed self-image issues, and when I first allowed my appearance to dictate my behavior and beliefs. The hazy chasm lies somewhere after the beginnings of puberty, which seems logical enough.

I am talking, here, primarily about my face. In the general areas of physical appearance and health, I am less inclined to hate myself. Except when it comes to my face. Once puberty, and the resulting pimples, hit, I could not leave my face alone. My attempts to purge these invasions of my skin quickly devolved into successive lasting habits. Everything I’ve done leaves my face burning, both from myriad creams and concoctions (that first were bought for me, then that I later began buying myself), and a deep guilt and contempt. And every attempt only furthers the degradation of my self-esteem.

And yet I cannot stop it. My hands are drawn to my face like a magnet. Especially when I am bored, or nervous, or when my hands are otherwise unoccupied…

It is a thing both humiliating and humbling for me to admit, and I have never divulged this to others. I am fenced in by my pride and stubbornness; by the complexity of my personality and upbringing. I hate that I lack the willpower to overcome this myself (though of course the above factors refuse to allow me to admit this). But most of all, I wish I were not consumed by this vain desire. I wish I were not so self-conscious and superficial.

Somewhere along the way, I have developed this strained, desperate belief that clear skin will be the panacea that improves my life. This half-crazed hope persists, despite my knowing that it cannot solve all my problems.

Perhaps there is some truth to it. I fight my obsession daily. It is constantly on my mind.

What would it be like, to be free of that burden?

There are more threads that feed into this: tributaries of influence from my environment. I grew up with the exalted tales of my mother’s beauty and flawless skin, of her many suitors. I live among relatives with high scrutiny towards appearance, fashion, and brand names. Who constantly compare each other’s heights, weights, pant and bra sizes, and blood type; numbers and digits fed into their incomprehensible equations for judging personality and likability.

Again, I cannot stop wondering: how did I end up in this family?

The drama I infuse into this seems almost comical. Perhaps I need to learn to take myself less seriously…

Addendum: Oh, my, what a way to celebrate the culmination of this blog’s first year. Ah, well. One year, go figure. Some days I’m still surprised I keep writing here. Even more so that people keep reading.

Categories: emolicious, life
  1. J
    May 12, 2007 at 2:45 pm

    Who we perceive ourselves to be is important. It is not feckless vanity to wish for an improved self-image…

    It is important to understand, though, that no matter what image we hold of ourselves, how others perceive bears no relationship to that whatsoever.

    Especially, it sounds like, in your family.

    If I were a wise man, my prescription for you would be distance and time apart from your family, if only to salvage what little remains of your relationship with them.

    But, please! Leave your face alone! Both actually and in your mind…

    We all know you are beautiful. We can tell from here.

  2. O
    May 19, 2007 at 2:20 am

    This is so hard to respond to intelligently…these feelings are not rational, but knowing that doesn’t help us to make them vanish.

    I agree with J; we know you’re beautiful from here.

    be well,

  3. Crow
    May 22, 2007 at 2:00 pm

    I am so impressed with what you have said about your acne. I have had acne from the time I was 13 till…well I suppose I still do in some ways.

    Its hard to address, harder to accept.

    Good luck with the family, they have all the knives,


  4. nell
    May 25, 2007 at 11:32 am

    Thank you all for your comments!
    Yes, it is hard to deal with and confront, but I am trying not to let it affect me so much.
    Being busy seems to help, too.

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