Beauty & Disease

As vain as it may come across, looks fucken matter. I thought I was beyond this and I try my best not to judge others based on appearance, but it happens. How a person looks is the first thing we all notice, as if it is our natural instinct. We all judge and are judged based on the way we look. I thought I was confident and comfortable in my own skin because I would much rather receive a meaningful compliment on other aspects that make me who I am than on my looks. However, when we look at ourselves in the mirror, who is really judging us and how we are perceived by others? It’s no one but ourselves that causes the uttermost damage to our self-esteem.

I can look at myself in the mirror and not recognize the face starring back at me. By this I mean, we stare at our reflection daily and in every reflective surface we come across. We know how we look and any little change that occurs, we notice right away; forcing us to fixate on something that a stranger meeting us for the first time or a close friend does not notice, unless we physically point it out.

Having an autoimmune disease does this more often. Scleroderma has changed my physical appearance to a point where I don’t believe it is actually me anymore, especially when I look back on photos prior to being diagnosed. I have noticed all these changes that no one else has and yes I will say it, making me feel unattractive at times. My skin is extremely tight and inflamed. I have these red broken blood vessels all over my skin, forcing me to pile on foundation to hide my imperfections. My smile is not the same and this frustrates me the most. What used to my best feature, has now become something I want to constantly hide and am embarrassed by. It’s smaller than it used to be, my lips are practically non-existent, and it is where I see the disease the most when I stare at my reflection. And yet, I receive the most compliments on my smile, but it is the one thing I get fixated on and want to hide.

Why is this? Is it because it’s all what I see, so it must be what others only see as well? I don’t think there is an actual answer to this question. We can blame the media and society with all the unrealistic expectations they put on us to look a certain way; creating this so-called “ideal” image of man and woman. Yet, even though the above is true, with media constantly shoving images of the “ideal” in our faces 24/7, I believe it has more to do with ourselves. If one believes they are unattractive and unlovable, then they will follow the image they conjured up and portray themselves as this way, even though many will see the exact opposite. So this day forward, I will try to only see myself as a strong and confident young woman and hopefully by conjuring up this image of myself, will force me to act on it. After all, the mind is one powerful force.

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