Right before spring break of this past year, my sophomore year, I was beyond stressed out. Finals and spring break plans, and an approaching summer with an accompanied disdain for my body. That’s when I began to notice a scaly rash quickly spreading everywhere.
As someone with quite a few allergies, I attributed it to an allergic reaction, lathered myself in coconut oil and went on with my life. The next couple weeks consisted of intense bouts of insecurity because I had this rash covered 24/7. From makeup on my face, to covering every inch of visible skin (even on weekend nights) I refused to reveal of this embarrassing rash.
Finally, after about a month of this rash getting worse, I went to a dermatologist. With one look at my red, flaky skin, she said I had psoriasis. She said there was nothing we could do about it but let it go away on it’s own, it usually lasts for 12-14 weeks, and there’s a chance I could have it on and off for the rest of my life. Even with being quite an unemotional girl, I immediately started crying. I cried the whole 2 hours back to school.
For those who are unfamiliar, it is the same rash Kim Kardashian has (my friends’s favorite comparison to make me feel better). And in the most simple explanation, it’s when the skin attacks itself creating scale like patches of skin all over your entire body. It happens for almost no particular reason, but a huge inducer is stress.
Stress gave me this horrible thing? Stress?
That’s when I learned the true toll mental health takes on your body and physical health. I started to “suck it up” and wear the clothes I wanted when I went out. I wasn’t going to miss out on the end of my sophomore year because I was afraid of what other people thought about my skin.
The more I began to appreciate where my skin-healing was at, the better I felt. By being forced to pay such careful attention to how I was treating myself mentally and physically, I noticed that loving all of yourself mentally will lead to the physical appreciation of yourself.
Whether that’s going for a run, or not wearing makeup, doing things that are good for your mental health will benefit to your physical well being too. As cliché as it sounds, operating from a place of self-appreciation, love, and respect, you will naturally do things that are healthy for you, and the cycle of treating yourself kindly through self improvement will continue.
My body image improved ten-fold, over the course of 12 weeks, as I was proud of where my physical appearance was at, no matter what stage it of progress it was in. Not only in terms of my skin though, my entire perceived image of my own body became more positive. As someone, who like many others, finds their own self-consciousness stifling in certain social situations, this realization has changed my day-to-day life.
One day you will look back, and regret missing going to the beach with your friends because you thought your thighs looked too big (even though I’m sure they don’t), and the last thing you want to do is waste some of your best years on despising your appearance. If you’re waiting on, “I’ll be happy when..my skin is clear/I lose 15 pounds,” you’ll be waiting all your life. If you think your happiness will be in a size 2 jeans, you are wrong.
It honestly does come from within, how you treat yourself, and even internal dialogue. It’s not enough to say, “oh no but I do love myself,” and continue to put yourself down with comments like, “I look fat.” That is half-ass self love.
Loving yourself no matter what stage you are at is the only true way to be happy. So eat that extra piece of pizza if you feel like it, don’t cover up that pimple today, because hey, we all have them. Get out there, wear your favorite bikini, and start loving yourself; you are just in time.
Physical appearance is fleeting, whether it’s your toned abs, clear skin, new hair color, or tan, but how you feel about yourself doesn’t have to be.
P.s. If no one gawked at my white flaky patches of skin all over my body, there’s no way they even notice that tiny little bit of cellulite on the back of your leg, or that slight arm jiggle, I promise.