A few weeks ago I finished ‘The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F***” by Sarah Knight. At first I didn’t manage to come up with personalised lists of annoyances that take up the sacred tripod of time, energy, and money. I would definitely suggest that you take the time to do your lists during the reading process, as it makes it easier to comprehend the book in general. Although this didn’t work for me initially, I have been having a think for the past few weeks. Oddly enough, I have discovered a huge ‘annoy’ that used to unite in a harmful depletion of all three points of said tripod. That annoy happens to be how I look. Let’s get up close and personal.
I’ll break this post down to make my rather universally felt ‘annoy’ understandable in a way that is unique to me. I hope that somehow this will encourage those of you who feel the same to either give the book a read, or arrive at the realisation that you are far from alone in the issues I explain. I will be discussing clothing, skin conditions, and other such insecurities that HAD made for a big expenditure of f***s given. As cliché as it sounds, Knight’s words have exposed me to a revelation of relief.
The excerpt of this particular post is ‘make up or make do?’ This relates to my struggle with the fierce opposition between make-up and skin conditions. Ever since I was a tiny tot, I have had a skin condition of some form. The skin condition that prevents me wearing make up is acne, which I was diagnosed with when I was 18. But there’s more to it than that. I don’t like wearing make-up in its entirety. The most I will put on is a gentle smattering of mascara, and some lip gloss. If I wake up looking a tad dishevelled, I apply the tiniest amount of tinted moisturiser to conceal my sleepy eye bags.
When I became interested in make-up, it was at around the age of 17. I had just started sixth form, and was all of a sudden rife with insecurity and self-loathing. When I took this next step in education, our campus was swarming with girls who got their make-up and clothing just right. I was in awe of them, and felt this obsessive need to compete in order to fit in and impress people.
Beforehand I hadn’t cared an inch about make-up or clothing. I wasn’t the only one either. Getting good grades was all that mattered to me. But the step up was incredibly overwhelming, and the decision to wear make-up was part of coping with it. Over two-ish years I tried out eyebrow gels, foundation, powder, concealer, eyeliner….I aggravated my acne with all kinds of stuff because I thought that if I didn’t try, people wouldn’t want to get to know me. I felt an intense amount of distress when I couldn’t reach the desirable outcomes in YouTube tutorials. This was all the way up until roughly six months ago. That’s right, I had had enough eventually!
I respect the make-up industry and find the eye make-up skills of artists especially fascinating. Those in my life who do wear make-up wear it because they enjoy it. It is intriguing to them – a hobby of sorts. My point is that this stuff is not for me, and today I save myself an incredible amount of money, worry and time by letting something go that I was never innately invested in. Sarah Knight’s book re-affirmed this decision, and as a result my acne has cleared up, my self esteem has soared, and I have been able to dedicate myself once again to what I love most. It’s a win-win situation!
Fashion & Psoriasis
These two may seem an unlikely duo, but my additional fixation with wearing the right outfit in the early days of sixth form led to a scalp psoriasis diagnosis. I saw girls flutter in and out of the school building with bags of shopping, and a boyfriend holding their hand. As said before, I was hell bent on copying this trend. That Christmas I received a big box of clothing from H&M, and cried myself to sleep during the night because I knew deep down that those things were never going to make me happy. I just wasn’t sure how to get out of the cycle and back to my old self again.
I remember the series of events leading to the diagnosis. It started with a tiny scab at the back of my head which was irresistibly itchy. Before I knew it, it was everywhere. I would wake up with yellow / white scabs, wet hair from secretions, and bleeding gashes. It was the exact opposite to my ‘all-important’ aim of looking the part. I was so pent up with stress that I would scratch uncontrollably. At school my hair – even if painfully washed that very morning – would look sticky and rife with dandruff, clinging to me like slime.
The visit to the doctor was the hardest part. I felt shame as he carefully scraped a sample of the debris from my scalp. It was as if I was the spurned troll under the bridge. We tried medicated shampoo first, but it did very little. Next came the oil, which turned out to be the miracle! The unfortunate thing about this particular skin condition is that it stays in some form. I’ve had to take sensible steps over the years to take care of my scalp, such as braving hair salons and keeping my nails short to avoid scratching. I’m very lucky that my hairdresser is empathetic – she has psoriasis too! During the appointment we discuss how our psoriasis has been over the last six weeks, and it’s honestly a relief to feel understood.
As for clothes? It’s about a year now and I couldn’t care less about them. I dress practically, and only buy what I need. Once again I have saved time, energy and money. I still contend with some dreadful psoriasis flare ups at night, but despite the pain I am reminded of the importance of self-care. I’m so much more confident and relaxed by having a minimal wardrobe. The tripod is now focused on academia, future savings, good books, and listening to Kate Nash. My friendships and relationships are a higher quality too, because I surround myself with those who love me for who I am, not how I look.
Luxurious Lotions & Body Cleansers / Exfoliators
I also have eczema (yay.) I’ve had this skin issue since I was very young. I have to be very careful about which soaps and moisturisers I use in order to avoid unbearable outbreaks.
I can recall roughly three occasions in my lifetime where eczema turned out to be torturous. When I was in primary school I had two sticky gashes under my knees that took ages to go away. About a year or so ago my neck decided to go red raw, making me feel like a reptile and meaning I had to avoid all manner of scarf until clear-up (during a very chilly winter too!) The worst bout was in year 11, just before my GCSES. I got three infected gashes on my arms that could almost be described as holes in my skin. My doctor and I went through cream after cream, and eventually resorted to a course of steroids before continuing our research. I now use a combination of Hydrocortisone cream and Vaseline emollient after a shower.
I know now that as long as you are clean and healthy, it really doesn’t matter if you can’t use mainstream products. Adverts on television and the internet bombard us with all manner of delightfully smelling concoctions. The Body Shop was the final obstacle I had to get over and leave behind, but now I know that as long as I am clean and comfortable, then euphoric soaps and lotions can politely leave. I held the door open for them willingly.
It has been enough time, effort and money trying to find products that pal up with my skin, because even some of the most sworn by eczema friendly ones can be incompatible. Here’s a case in point. Last month I travelled up to Lancaster for my scholarship interview and stayed with my friend in her accommodation on campus. We popped into the pharmacist during a campus tour, and I ended up buying a facial moisturiser called ‘Cetaphil.’ It was considerably pricey at £10, but I felt so much relief when it worked. I had put faith in countless moisturisers beforehand, only for them to practically singe my face! Therefore, I am happy that I now actively sidestep as much stress as I possibly can.
To be honest, I’ve never really have cared about the size of my breasts. I always check them for any lumps and bumps as all grown women should, and they’re healthy as far as I can tell. It was only last summer that I was forced to give A LOT of time, energy and money to my breasts, because according to society they’re too small.
I came to the realisation one day that I really needed some new bras. I felt like the ones I had at the time didn’t fit properly, so went out on a day trip to the shops to seek out a fitting and two new bras. I went round countless shops only to be told that they didn’t have bras small enough. It was only when I sought out a local business down a little high street that I was given reassurance, a fitting, and some advice. Even there it was a little humiliating because they had to order in my size, and the bras in question cost £31 each. I had to wait a long time for them too, and it got me questioning why it is that so many lingerie / undergarment shops do not accommodate for all shapes and sizes.
Nevertheless, it was money well spent, and these bras are so comfy! It’s a shame though that society has given me cause to spend so much of the tripod on making sure that my breasts have their basic needs met.
Thanks for reading! I hope my story of overcoming negative views of my looks is some help to you. Our identities and tastes are constantly changing, so there is no need to put any pressure on ourselves. So much potential time, energy and money can wasted in comparing yourself to others, so make sure to take care of yourself! A whole new world will open up to you. I am now so much more relaxed and sure of myself in terms of my likes and dislikes (f***s given / not given.) You can be too. Please comment below and tell me about any of your own experiences in relation to the topic covered in this post.
I had talking therapy in order to confront the problems mentioned above. To find out more about this, click the following link:
Some other useful sites include:
http://thoughtcatalog.com/ – search for articles on confidence etc.
If you have any other recommendations, please comment them below!