I have never considered myself to be pretty. I don't say this for an onslaught of compliments to be sent my way, I won't believe them anyway. I grew up being tall and painfully thin, with the kind of face that could never be considered cute but apparently I've grown into.
When I look in the mirror, I don't see the same thing that others see. I see the awkwardly unattractive girl I was when I was thirteen. There was a time I refused to pose for pictures and even now I delete a majority of the photos that I am in. I am always genuinely surprised when I complimented on my looks. I'm not good at accepting it. I always relied on my personality to be my most attractive feature-I'm funny, smart and kind. I'm not pretty.
My mother used to say to me that she hoped I'd never know what it was like to be ugly. That i was so lucky and didn't even know it. That one day something would make me appreciate myself from an aesthetic standpoint. She told me I was beautiful and exquisite and that many people would love to look like me. I rolled my eyes. I never realized she was right. That one day I'd wish i could look like the old me.
I woke up in December with these weird red bumps in my arms. I, being the hypochondriac, googled every possibility, and diagnosed myself with ridiculous ailments. I figured it was either some crazy disease or an allergic reaction. I couldn't have predicted the truth.
I went home for Christmas and got blood tests, convinced for some insane reason that it was syphilis. (There is NO REASON at all I should've suspected this, it would actually be impossible. I have not engaged in any precarious activities-or non precarious for that matter...but it's what came up when I googled "small red bumps on arms") Not surprisingly, I tested negative for it and everything else. I waited for my appointment with my superstar dermatologist, convinced that he'd be able to tell me what was wrong. Why an allergic reaction wouldn't go away. He took a quick look at me and delivered the news: I have psoriasis. A lifelong skin condition that covers one with unattractive scales and flares up for seemingly no reason at all. He gave me some cream and told me to get moderate sunlight and that I'd be ok.
I left the doctor feeling very happy, knowing what was wrong with me. I stupidly didn't understand the implication. I had no idea that the red bumps would disappear and be replaced with BIG WHITE SPLOTCHES that cover my arms and part of my legs. That the cream would do nothing to alleviate the unsightly condition that had developed on my arms and part of my body. That I'd have to rethink short sleeve shirts, that when I looked in the mirror I'd see a leopard standing back at me. That I finally had a legitimate reason to complain about what I looked like. That my mother was justified in her prior disdain for my cries of being ugly. I can't help feel like I've gotten what I deserve. And I have to deal with it for the rest of my life. There is no cure for psoriasis. I will constantly have to battle this, feel self conscious, and hate myself for being such a idiot before.
I know I am supposed to be better than this. That beauty is only skin deep. That there is more to life than looking good. I know I sound like a whiny superficial bitch for writing this post. That there are people with actual problems, serious health problems that they are battling, and my situation is pathetic in comparison. of course I know that, but it doesn't make it any easier.
This weekend it was gorgeous sunny weather, and I wore a tank top and saw people staring at my arms, wondering what the hell was wrong with me. I tried on many different outfits for my birthday party and opted out of the one I wanted to wear because it would expose the spots. I can't bear the idea of going out exposed because it'll evoke stares and add to my my already increased self consciousness.
I don't know how I am supposed to stop feeling embarrassed about this. How to stop caring. How to rise above it. How to look in the mirror and not see the stark contrast between my skin color and these patches. How I am supposed to tell myself to stop crying because I've lost whatever confidence in my looks that i was somewhat starting to gain. How can anyone possibly think I am pretty now? I certainly can't imagine how they could, because I certainly don't. I can't help feel that this is going to be what everyone notices about me when they first see me.
I really dislike that I am so upset about looking bad. I had always prided myself on not being vain but the truth is, everyone, I don't care who they are, wants to feel attractive. No one wants to feel like a freak or stand out for having some kind of physical aberration. It doesn't matter how intelligent you are, or how in touch with your inner self you claim you are, no one is immune to physical beauty-not just admiring it but wanting to feel that they, in some way, possess it.
I am not saying I'm ugly. Or that all I have to offer is the way I look. All I am saying is that for 26 3/4 of my life, i didn't appreciate what I had. I wasn't perfect but I had no real problems regarding my looks. Yeah I was gangly, my hair was a frizzy mess and people called me big forehead but I had nothing that made my physically different. I didn't have to think about covering my arms for fear of stares. I was a stupid self conscious girl without any justifiable reason (unless you want to blame Hollywood)
But now I do. Now I have an affliction that I have no real control over that I will never be able to get rid of. The only thing I can try and do is take whatever they recommend to alleviate symptoms (which, as I said, hasn't worked for me) and try and convince myself to get over it. That I should appreciate the other beauty I possess. That I am luckier than most.
I'll try and do those things. but until I have that down, I'll wear long sleeves and have the occasional sobfest in my bedroom.