Remember when I got Racheled?
Well as many biotin and folic acid-filled multivitamins I gobbled or head massages I gave myself, the measly quarter-of-an-inch my hair grew the past month still wasn’t enough to placate me. Every time I looked at myself in the mirror, I felt like garbage.
After “ARGH”-ing dramatically, then throwing my hair into a topknot for the thousandth time, my roommate peeked into the bathroom this weekend and basically told me to give up on growing it out.
“You know, you should probably DO something about your hair,” she said.
“But, but!” I whined. “I was waiting for it to grow out a little bit more and then I was going to get it fixed.”
“It’ll probably grow out better if you do it now,” she said. “And this will stop.”
I agreed, I guess. I felt defeated. I stopped into Hair Metal later that day, talked to this dope stylist who I adore (I go to more inexpensive places for trims, which is where Bad Haircut happened), and we went over the options for getting rid of those chunky, face-framing pieces reminiscent of the early aughts.
AND GUESS WHO JOINED THE BANG GANG?
Quite obviously from this picture where I’m trying a little too hard to appear seductive, I dig my new ‘do.
I never thought I’d be a bang girl after awkwardly enduring those chunky ‘90s bangs -- and then cutting them off at my scalp -- as a child. Maybe haircuts we don't want happen for a reason?
The next day, I’m sitting in the waiting room at a dermatologist’s office that's so far on the Upper East Side I don't even know where I am anymore. I hadn't been to one for 10 years, which I know is dumb, as my little sister has struggled with melanoma, and I’ve wedged myself inside the UV-ray spewing guts of too many tanning booths.
But that’s not even what prompted me to make the appointment: I’m there to seek solace from the red, pimple-y patches that have recently flared up around both sides of my nose.
As I fill out my first-visit forms, I tune into the coverage of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s forthcoming trial playing on the flat-screen in the corner of the room.
“Most of the victims still being treated for injuries related to the bombing underwent amputations,” the newscaster says. “Some are already beginning to walk with the help of--”
I zone out.
Back in the office with the nurse, she’s asking what brings me in. “SOMETHING is happening on my face, and I want flawless celebrity skin,” I say. “Oh, and my little sister has melanoma, so I should probably get everything else checked out, too.”
She leaves, I get into the dumb paper robe, and the doctor comes in. “What makeup do you wear?” he says as he inspects my face. I start rattling off products. He removes it with an alcohol pad to see my actual skin.
“You have a combination of issues happening with complexion,” he starts. “Rosacea, dryness, and pimples.”
“What? How do I get rid of it?” I ask.
“It’s a form of adult-onset acne,” he says. I feel like I’m going to puke. “We can write you a prescription for the pimples, but there’s no cure for rosacea. You could do a laser treatment to help it, but it’s cosmetic and will cost about $850.”
“How did this happen?” I pout. “I mean, it started last year. And I’ve always had perfect skin!”
He nods. “It’s just a part of getting older,” he says. “Your skin looks good, otherwise.” He leaves the room. I fume.
I get up, stare in a mirror on the wall, and inspect my red, pimple-y face. The nurse is still in the room, completing my chart. “I HATE getting older,” I tell her.
“I have about 10 years on you, and, trust me, your 30s are much easier than your 20s.”
She's about the millionth person who's told me that. She closes my file and leaves.
Post-appointment, I obsess over my disgusting skin. I Google remedies for rosacea (he's right, there are none). I curse my 16-year-old self for having a perfect complexion. I can’t believe my skin -- once my most beloved physical feature -- has turned to shit!
And that's the point I realize I’m being a total fucking idiot.
My hair and my skin were my favorite physical features. But before I started having problems with them, I obsessed over my cellulite. My big shoulders. My thunder thighs. I pinched the little pouch under my belly button and promised I would do more cardio. I stared at my nails and wondered why they were always brittle and would never grow. (TRUST ME, I've tried everything, it's hereditary, THANKS!)
Ever since I had the mental capacity to think about my physical self, I’ve had a laundry list of things I wanted to change about it.
And this realization, to me, wasn't about accepting that I’ll never be perfect. (That’s like, NO SHIT. What IS perfect? Have you taken a Women’s Studies course?) Rather, it was more so about being grateful for what I do have, rather than wasting so much energy mulling over the things that aren't "right" with my appearance.
A past therapist made me do gratitude lists every day. One time, I was being a total snot and told her I couldn’t think of anything. “Be grateful you have all your limbs!” she said, laughing her huge-ass hearty laugh. I rolled my eyes.
Now -- especially after last week -- I’m thinking about it every damn day: I’m thankful I have limbs.
I’m thankful I don’t have melanoma.
I simply have some not-fun stuff happening with my skin. But, THANKFULLY I know the best concealer to cover it up:
I feel like I'm Photoshopping my face when I put it on with a foundation brush -- in a good way. From hickeys, to zits, to discoloration, this concealer masks ALL and isn't thick and globby-looking when applied. It'll last you more than a few months, too, so don't piss yourself over the price tag.
So I'll use the medication, and my makeup, and take care of my face and my body. But I'm not going to obsess over the imperfections anymore. (Wait, does that mean I do want to be perfect?)
I guess THIS is a part of getting older: Learning to let the stuff that doesn't really matter that much GO.
Tell me what part of your body you hate the most. HAHA, just kidding, have we not learned anything? Also, I'm still learning. ALSO, I have five more years until I get to 30, so does that mean my life is going to be weird and shitty and make me feel uncomfortable all the time until then?
And lastly: I feel grateful for all of you. Just wanted to let you know that.
Follow me on Twitter: @caitlinthornton.