I’m Not a Supermodel

I used to have a boyfriend who liked to pop my pimples.

There was something about it that he was fond of. Maybe it was the challenge of ridding me of the occasional back-ne or perhaps he liked the burst. I’m not sure – even to this day – why he got a kick out of it, but once he popped…he didn’t want to stop. What started as an occasional odd plea “Baby, please let me take care of that for you” eventually turned into a nightly routine that eventually, I found commonplace.

In an essence, this was a mark of the level of intimacy we shared. I had grown so comfortable with him and with myself, that I allowed my imperfections to not only be visible but invited (or rather, allowed) him to explore their ugliness. We still made love, he consistently commented on my beauty, and in public, there was no probing or picking. To him, draining a zit was no different from any other mindless task. He enjoyed it and I somehow grew to not mind it so much – especially when I noticed my skin clearing up from being constantly massaged, inspected, and cleaned.

Since then, I haven’t been with anyone who asks this special request of me and honestly, I don’t miss it too much. What I have wondered, however, is how I reach that same level of acceptance for myself that Mr. Acne-Fighter had toward me. If I could see myself as beautiful as he found me, even with all of the issues I see as problematic and unattractive, and view them as “part of the package of me”, then I’d gain a bit more self-confidence.

Yesterday, I joined Mr. Possibility at a birthday party where I met some of his friends and family. Having met most of his group of friends and the members of his clan that are important to him, I wasn’t nervous but rather excited to have an afternoon to relax, eat Italian food that I normally wouldn’t allow on my diet, and spend some time cooing over his nieces. It’s almost like escaping to the suburbia I grew up in, that’s full of love, comradery, and timeless memories, and while I’m not ready to return to that way of life, it’s nice to be away from the rush of the city and go at a slower pace for an afternoon.

Getting ready for the day, Mr. Possibility commented that I was taking longer than usual and started rushing me to get out the door. I’m usually not short-tempered but I immediately snapped at him the first time he hurried me, and seeing my frustration, he knocked on the bathroom door to figure out the reason behind my short-wick. Nearing that inevitable time of the month, I’ve found myself oily and broken out, bloated, and overall, not feeling all that gorgeous. And so, I stood in front of the mirror, trying to figure out how I could boost my esteem before being friendly and warm to Mr. Possibility’s network when the only thing I wanted to do involved a huge bowl of buttery mashed potatoes, my yellow blanket I’ve had since I was a child, and re-runs of Lifetime movies that I hate to admit I watch…and sometimes, enjoy.

I opened the door and asked, “Would you be terribly upset if I caught the train?” Confused, he inquired where I was going on the train. “Home,” I replied with a pout. Without a word, he raised an eyebrow, and I heaved an aggravated sigh. “This, Mr. Possibility! See this? On the side of my cheek?? Huge zit that I can’t cover up and if I put makeup over it, it’ll only look cakey and gross. Do makeup companies not make anything that will erase this? How can I meet everyone and be an extension of you, when I look like this? They will wonder why in the world you’re with me.”

Following my outburst, I cautiously met his eyes, only to see him smirking. “Why are you smiling? This is awful. I can’t go,” I continued. He placed his hand on the side of my face, right next to the culprit who was causing so much dismay, and asked, “Do you think you’re going with me because of the way you look? Or do you think you’re going with me because you’re you?”

Not amused by his approach at a sweet tactic, I combated his sentiment by saying, “I know. I know you’re not with me because I’m the most beautiful thing to ever grace the Earth, but I want to feel attractive. And I’m glad you find my attractive, but I don’t and that’s a problem. How can I put on a happy face and go when everyone can see this?

Realizing he wasn’t going to calm me down, he tried a different approach, “Well, they’ll see it. They’ll notice it. And then they’ll move on to get to know you. They know you’re not a supermodel, neither are they, neither am I.”

And in his own twisted way of being rational, Mr. Possibility actually made some sense: I’m no supermodel.

Of course, I’ve always known that – but I’ve also always thought I needed perfectly clear and tanned skin. I’ve thought to be considered remarkable by aesthetic standards; I needed to be a size two (though I’m consistently a four). I’ve thought men want girls who are no fuss, who can roll out of bed with rosy cheeks and breath that smells minty and fresh. I’ve thought to feel comfortable with myself; I needed to always have my best face forward.

But what I’ve really needed to accept is that I’m not a supermodel. I’m never going to be on aVictoria’s Secret ad, a Clean & Clear commercial, or be the one in my group of friends who is complimented for their pretty skin. I have nice eyes, a great figure, and naturally wavy hair that may turn heads, but maybe, my skin won’t. Even when I get it under control and my hormones die down, I may never feel comfortable in my own skin – and really that’s okay.

Because I still love who I am and mostly, what I look like. I have off days where preparing to face the day with a face that’s not perfect is difficult. I have moments where I want to run away from the world so they don’t see that I’m flawed. But my blemishes don’t define me any more than my beauty does.

And if I can meet men who enjoy ridding me of acne and ones who see straight through it and right into my heart, then I believe not every guy needs to date a supermodel to find their partner beautiful.

In fact – most don’t.

The Anonymous Dater

The ironic truth about living in a densely populated city is though you are surrounded by people, it is easier to go unnoticed than residing in a small Southern town just West of the Tennessee line. You see, unlike those tiny towns I grew up in, in New York, people realize they could know your business if they asked, but most of the time,they  just don’t care.

Though we may never realize it – any place we decide to go and grow roots – there will always be more strangers than friends. There will always be people coming and people leaving, and even if we travel the same route or road the same way, every single day, there will always be someone new who shows their face. And the reality of it is, if we’d like to not display ours for the world – we don’t have to. Especially here.

If you want to be anonymous, the second you take a step out of your apartment, you can put iPod buds in your ear, raise the volume on a song with a beat to wake you up, and off you go. To the subway, of course, if you’re trying to lay low – after all, if you ask the monetarily blessed of Manhattan, they feel sorry for the “poor people” who have to take the train. Down the stairs you’ll ascend into the darkened transit and there you will sit alone, with a very rare chance you’ll recognize anyone at your stop. After bravely leaning against a pillar or walking the track to pass the time, your chariot will eventually arrive, but there will be no Prince to lend his hand as you step up. (You don’t need his help anyways). As you ride uptown or downtown (the direction never quite matters), you’ll sit to yourself, music still playing (but probably lowered), as you read the latest magazine or yet another Vampire-inspired novel that I still can’t jump on the bandwagon for. When the doors open to your destination, you’ll exit, without slipping a word to anyone or touching anything. Out onto the street you’ll rush, walking past people eying an underground performer, a foreign family unsure of which colored-line to take, and a man who thought your blue scarf looked stunning on you. But did you notice? No, you were lost away in whatever playlist you picked, thinking about getting to instead of living in. And then, just as one could predict, your feet touched the glimmering pavement and you blended into the crowds, bumping your way through elbows, and mumbling “excuse me” only when absolutely necessary.

It is one thing to be an anonymous New Yorker – the city is actually quite ripe with them. They are those people who’d rather not be bothered by the things you can’t predict or the chance conversations that can actually be the very thoughts hat turn your perspective. They are the ones who simply don’t want to be interrupted as they go from point A to point B, they just want to leave and arrive, without experiencing anything between.

But what they don’t realize is so much of the best of life is in the in between. And like one of my friends always says, “If I’m going to pay this much to live here, I’m going to get my money’s worth!” She’s right – if you’re ignoring the characters and the connections that  your address entertains, what’s the point?

After all, if you’re anonymous on the streets, do you really expect to meet anyone captivating? As much as we all complain about our single status and how we are never noticed by the type of guys we like, are we making ourselves available for someone to approach us? As lovely as it sounds that a man was so astonished with our beauty, that from across a crowded subway cart, he battled the straphangers to simply ask our name, and then vowed he’d find us again (maybe through Craigslist’s Missed Connections) – don’t you think that’s a little far-fetched?

Worse than being an anonymous resident is being an anonymous dater – but more often than not, they are one in the same. I’m lucky to not be a shy type of person, but even with as outgoing and normally fearless as I am in the dating market, I have to push myself. I don’t always feel my very best or my most attractive, but I also know that confidence is more important than anything – zits and bloated tummies aside. Anyone, man or female, is intrigued by someone who is intrigued by themselves. And if your eyes are peering toward the pages of a book for ten stops or at your drink for thirty minutes, how will anyone see that fire that only belongs to you?

They won’t.

There are times that call for anonymousness. Sometimes it is refreshing to ignore the rest of the world and go at your own pace, without worrying about what someone else prefers. It is a nice cloak that New York offers to its inhabitants – as if it is saying, “I know I’m tough on you, so every once in a while, I’ll let you disappear.” But remember, that robe is only meant to be momentary -not permanent.

Because the longer you engage the anonymous title and make yourself more into a stranger than a person, the more difficult it is for someone to remember youR name. Or even worse, the more you lose touch with who you are, drowning in a sea of people you’ve never seen and have stopped noticing. Take the chance – take the dive – and try looking up, instead of looking away. Remember to love yourself and know that that love will translate into conversation and give you that energy you need to be alluring. Notice the unnoticeables, listen to the city instead of the Biebs, read the lines on someone’s face instead of the WSJ, and give yourself more credit than just a statistic in this city’s census. Make yourself someone who lives in your own life, in this city, or wherever you are- not just someone who is passing by, anonymously.

And Then, I Surrendered

You would think with yesterday’s post – I would have attempted to be a little more upbeat about my appearance.

Maybe it’s the grime in New York or my hormones are all screwy or I’m PMSing, but for some reason my face keeps breaking out awful. Even worse than it has ever been in the past. I figure, I’m 22 years old, when does this preteen/teen zit-face crap stop? I mean, seriously? I go to an interview or attend a networking event and I have such a lovely red pimple on my cheek? So professional.

Ughhhh.

So of course, I wear makeup. And I’ve gotten really good at picking makeup that doesn’t look cakey, but of course, with a zit, you put more on (even though you’re not supposed to) to cover it up. End result? I feel like I’m unattractive. And thus – my confidence goes down.

I woke up Friday morning with a new sucker on the left side of my cheek. And just by the feel of it and how it is starting to sprout, I know it’s going to be a big one. Years of getting them teaches you how to prepare for them. So, already, just by looking in the mirror when I get up, I feel awful. And then, I get mad at myself for feeling this way when I know I’m trying not to with this journey.

I put on my makeup, go through the motions, and already feel oily and gross –but I put on a cute outfit and just go for it. By lunchtime, I’ve seen myself in the bathroom mirror several times (thank you, Starbucks) – and each time I find a different flaw. I quickly combat my thoughts with positive reinforcements, but it fails to make me feel prettier.

I go out to H&M to buy a new jacket (the cold weather finally got me), where I was bumped into excessively and got further annoyed. After I paid, I made my way to Guy & Gallard for their soup and half-sandwich deal that I love so much. While I was paying, this rather attractive man started chattin’ it up with the very-obnoxious girl in front of me. She had tanning-bed written all over her and she was leaving nothing up to mystery…if you know what I mean. And he was intrigued? I then felt more unattractive and stomped out of the store, nearly spilling my soup in my carry-out bag.

As I walked down the street, I noticed that no man took note of me. That’s a lie – no man I would remotely be interested in took note of me. I started to wonder, why don’t I turn heads? Is it because I wear makeup? Because I’m not hanging out? It is 50-degree weather, why would I bare-it-all? Is it because of this massive oncoming zit? Guys like natural, we all know, but what if you don’t like how you look naturally?

Again, I say: ugghhhh.

I walk up the four flights of stairs up to my office, literally stomping as hard as I can – because I can and no one is around to notice the temper-tantrum I’m throwing for myself. I even half-way punch a wall on the way up (because I can’t really punch) and then get petty with my co-worker J via IM when I sit down to eat.

And then, as I’m yelling at myself, putting myself down – I stopped.

I stopped analyzing and dissecting myself. I stopped looking at the mirror and searching for reasons to pick out flaws. I stopped getting angry because some man didn’t look at me. I stopped making myself believe that I was not worthy of attention because of a zit.

I simply said, “Lindsay, this is you. It isn’t changing. You are beautiful and if you wear makeup, you wear it. Your hair gets blown in the wind, so be it. If you get a pimple, you do. It won’t be forever. If a guy can’t take you or find you attractive when you’re having a rough breakout or it is cold outside, then screw him. You deserve much more than that. So stop it. Go rock out in your heels in the street and accept yourself, your zits, and your insecurities. You got this.”

And just like that, with that boost of momentum, I listened. The negativity slowed down, I touched up my makeup. I breathed. I carried on

all the way to the Flat Iron district to a double sushi-date with drinks. And I laughed, I smiled. I gave myself encouragement and I told those me-hating thoughts exactly where they could go.

Yes, ladies (and gentlemen, if you’re reading) – I surrendered.

Guess there is a first time for everything. Onto Step 4? Hmm. Let’s see.

Bumps in the Process

For some reason, my face decided this week (and especially this weekend) was the ideal time to break out. I’ve always had a difficult time with acne and because I’m probably a tad bit too vain, I’ve also always worn makeup.

The act of putting on makeup itself is tiresome. If I was one of those lucky gals who just woke up and went, I would get a whole lot more sleep during the work week. The process is long and often, I feel like I’m a painter –but not one of the talented ones. It’s basically paint-by-the-imperfections until everything is covered up and I feel pretty enough to face the world.

Not only is acne bad for the self-confidence, but it can be extremely painful. Especially when you get the big suckers like I did this weekend. They pop up in the most annoying of places (on your cheeks, so when you smile, they get even bigger), and if you brush up against them or go to wipe your face, it just flat out hurts.

Because I’ve been trying to be more in-tune with myself and watch the language I use to communicate with myself every day, I’ve also been more acutely aware of the way I walk, the way I talk, the way I look, and the way I think I’m perceived by others. You’d think the journey to self-love would make me throw out my self-hating-habits and instantly let go, but if anything, it’s brought them to the surface (literally with these zits) and make me face what makes me the most insecure.

My friend, J (remember him, who got all those flowers?) asked me to go shopping with him on Saturday, and I reluctantly agreed. Not because I didn’t want to see J or because he’s not a great shoe-finding buddy, but because I felt so gross from having a massive break out. I ended up piling on more makeup than I usually do and I tried my best not to wear red so it wouldn’t bring attention to the redness on my face.

After I was sure he had noticed the huge cluster of zits on my cheek, I finally said, “I just love how I’ve broken out this weekend.” He looked up at me puzzled, and said, “What do you mean?” Shocked, I replied, “Don’t you see these awful zits on my face?” Simply, he said, “Nah. Hadn’t noticed. You look pretty.”

Given, J, always will compliment me –but it really opened my eyes to how harsh I can be on myself. Everyone, even those damn Victoria’s Secret models, get some problematic skin issues sometimes. By nature, human beings are far from perfect. We’re meant to make mistakes, have flaws, and work on our confidence. Having insecurities doesn’t make us weak, it just makes us normal.

Of course, because of the recovery, I thought about how hard I’ve been on myself just in the past week.

Anytime a negative thought or worry came into my mind, I instantly yelled internally “Lindsay! You’re doing the 12 Steps, remember? Stop this!” Even though I came up with a kind and soothing mantra, my instant reaction was far from forgiving.

Instead of working on why I was having that thought or fear, I automatically tried to “cover it up” by pushing it out of my mind and not giving myself time to figure out why I was being negative in the first place. If you will, I was applying makeup before I gave the zit time to heal. I was putting on mascara while my eye was still red, lipstick on my lips while they were still chapped, and blush on my cheeks when they were already flushed.

This process, this recovery, isn’t going to be a walk in the park. And I have to remember to be my own best friend –encouraging, patient, and gentle. If a thought comes to my mind, instead of letting myself get all worked up and mad for not “recovering quick enough” –I need to let the thought cycle through, tell myself its okay to have the thought, and then remind myself to “Have faith. All is unfolding as it should.”

Before I can truly believe my bad attitude can be turned around, I have to let the thoughts and emotions come as they naturally do, so I can understand why I’m having such a hard time. I can’t skip forward to peace and clarity, if I don’t have a little bit of bumps and pain.

I think it’s time to tell my Mars in Aries to just calm down a little bit. All in due time, all in due time.