[Not A Knitting Post] I Don’t Look In The Mirror…

6 May

I was surfing the internet this morning when I came across this article. This author of the article talks about how she used to look in the mirror (or windows or anything with a reflection) CONSTANTLY to make sure that her “flaws” weren’t easily seen. The article goes on to talk about how she gave up using a mirror for a year.

Now, my head twisted this article around and I started to get really angry. REALLY angry. Angry to the point where I got maybe halfway through the article before showing the page to KristiLynn (you know, my BFF) and saying I needed to stop reading articles.

I don’t look in the mirror for different reasons.

I have Discoid Lupus, an auto immune disease that attacks my skin, leaving lesions and scars. I can get these lesions from UV light, stress, and heat (amongst other things.) They show up on my face and arms and I’ve got a lovely more specific kind of Lupus (Tumid Lupus) on my back and chest which leaves bumps all over, making it look like I have hundreds of mosquito bites.

I don’t look in the mirror because I feel these scars make me look ugly. I feel like maybe if I don’t look, don’t see them, they don’t exist and that no one else can see them too. I look in the mirror long enough to brush my hair in the mornings. That’s it. Other than that, I don’t look. I maybe look at my hair in the bathroom while I’m at work, but even then, it’s unlikely. If I look for too long, I see them, see all the imperfections. See the pock marks on my face and realize everyone else can see them too. And then I worry that people will stare because of all of these scars (even though “all of these scars” equals maybe five scars on my face.)

I’m not going to hide the fact that even while I type this post, I’m fighting back tears. I’m angry that there are women out there with beautiful scar-free faces that are worried about being “not thin enough” and THAT is why they don’t look in the mirror. You can fix fat. You can’t fix scars.

 

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3 Responses to “[Not A Knitting Post] I Don’t Look In The Mirror…”

  1. Jillian May 6, 2013 at 12:49 pm #

    Britt,

    I am sorry that you feel that your scars make you look ugly. I am sure all of your friends and your fiance would disagree (I know I do!). I think you are drop dead gorgeous. Beauty is subjective, and beauty is not just the outside skin we wear, but who we are on the inside. That’s what makes insecurities and body dysmorphia so hard to fight. We might see a beautiful woman on the outside who is struggling deeply inside. Who, when she looks in the mirror, sees someone totally different than we, the “outside world” see.

    I want you to know that I think you’re beautiful, scars and all. I read an interview with Padma Lakshmi from Top Chef. You may know she has a large scar on her arm from a car accident she was in. She was early in her modeling career, and booked a show with a very famous designer (I want to say Versace, but can’t remember off the top of my head). Between the booking and the show she had her scar treated to try to make it less noticeable. When she went to the shoot, the designer told her she had ruined her beautiful scar, was actually upset with her for having tried to have it removed/diminished. Of course, I believe in body autonomy, so if she wants her scar removed, she should have it removed, high powered fashion designer be damned. But my point is, you are not defined by your scars; some people may even find them beautiful. I don’t notice your scars when I see pictures of you because I just notice that you are me beautiful friend with a beautiful personality.

    Having said that, I have to take a little bit of an issue with what you said at the end of your post. “I’m angry that there are women out there with beautiful scar-free faces that are worried about being “not thin enough” and THAT is why they don’t look in the mirror.” Okay, totally agree. I’m angry that anyone feels “not thin enough.” Thin enough for WHAT even? To be considered worthy in our society? It makes me angry, too. “You can fix fat. You can’t fix scars.” Whoa, what? I don’t like this because I think it does a disservice to all women, essentially saying, “my insecurities are valid, but yours aren’t.” The truth is, not everyone CAN “fix fat,” or NEED to “fix [their] fat.” There are many reasons that people may be considered “overweight,” and we have no idea by looking at them what those reasons may be. And if that person wants to (or has no choice in the matter, but just DOES) feel insecure about her weight, she gets to. It’s her body. There are many people whose bodes are just happier at a heavier weight. And the constant pressure in our society to be thin and fit can lead to crash diets, cleanses, starvation diets, and fad diets, which are usually unhealthy and often have the opposite affect–the individual ends up losing a little, and gaining it back PLUS more. Yo-yo dieting. Lose a little, gain a little more. There are people who eat healthy, and exercise regularly who are still “fat.” Fat doesn’t always mean someone is lazy and has no self control or will power. It’s an unfair assumption, and I hope you might reconsider your stance on that. I wouldn’t want anyone to make any unfounded assumptions about you based on seeing your scars, or assumptions about ANYONE, ANYWHERE, MALE OR FEMALE, based on what they SEE, and I think when we stop making assumptions about women’s bodies, commenting on them as though they are for public consumption, the societal pressures on all women to be perfect and beautiful may be ever so slightly eased. So no, you can’t always “fix fat,” and you shouldn’t have to. Just like you can’t fix your scars, and you shouldn’t have to in order to feel beautiful. You ARE beautiful.

    I would like to live in a world where everyone’s insecurities are valid, where everyone can express their insecurities without a value or a judgment being placed on them and their lifestyle, based on little more than a picture; but beyond that, I’d like to live in a world where women with scars AND women who are fat are considered beautiful. Xoxo

  2. sweatyknitter May 6, 2013 at 12:58 pm #

    Thank you for sharing your story. Sometimes people just suck. You, however, sound beautiful in all the ways that matter.

  3. Bonnie May 14, 2013 at 2:01 pm #

    Hi there,

    I promised a comment and intended to leave a long well-thought out one, but today I’m home sick from work and realized it’s overdo and just wanted to come leave whatever I could. 🙂

    I so so so feel your pain on this. I have a chronic illness (PCOS) that manifests in terrible problems with my skin and hair, cystic acne, and having it be nearly impossible to lose weight. Sometimes when I see a woman who feels fat (but is not by society’s standards) and hates her reflection for being 10 -20 pounds heavier than she’d like to be, my first reaction is that I’d like to slap the b*tch. I’d like to shake her and scream “do you know what I’d give to have this be my body, my problems?” and yet… and yet… there is a terrible pain at the root of that jealousy and frustration that has nothing to do with how people should feel about their appearance and what they can or cannot change, because our culture’s insane beauty standards make it so impossible. We live in a culture that teaches women they should be on a diet AT ALL times. That there is always a higher price to pay than we are currently paying, we should always be trying harder.

    I wish we had realistic ideas of beauty and standards and women’s health in our culture so we could have honest and accurate discussions about what it means to be “other” and have diseases and have visable struggles we can’t not wear. I so wish that were possible. but until it is, even though I totally get frustrated with a lack of perspective, a lack of awareness about how much privilege exists in certain appearance markers — I also need to recognize how hard it is for women’s bodies and skin and selves to exist in public at all.

    No, many people can’t “just lose weight”. And being overweight carries a kind of public shame that is hard to imagine if you are not someone who is viewed as “obese”. – It’s not just feeling ugly, its being told it, over and over again. And not metaphorically or by reinforcement of other types of beauty – I mean literally, strangers have no problem making me their joke or passing on their disapproval. Somehow my fat body is fair game, somehow them commenting on me is allowed and I deserve it because according to them, I could be losing weight, why am I not?

    So… I’m leaving this to politely disagree and offer my perspective on that issue, but also to just let you know how I relate to your feelings and words more than you know. And I have your back too! And I think you are quite beautiful (in appearance) and more so for being brave and talking about it. I’ve known two other women who have lupus and hid it completely, refused to discuss it. I admire your openness and willingness to allow people to learn more about it, because they know you live with it.

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