Loving the Skin You're In

This post is written in collaboration with some of the most stellar and deep-thinking women I've met. It's a series called The Refined Collective, organized by The Refined Woman. Each month, we'll each share our thoughts on an assigned topic. This month is all about Loving The Skin You're In. Be sure and check out the other women who are a part of this Collective: Katherine Harris, Lauren Scruggs Kennedy, Chelsey Korus, Danielle Bennet, Kate Labat, Joanne Encarnacion and Nikia Phoenix. 


It was dinner time. I was hanging out at my neighbors’ house because I loved spending time with their three young daughters as they played with their toys and talked about their day. The eldest daughter, who was about five or six years old by then, looked over at me as she was braiding my hair and asked, “Why do you have so many mosquito bites on your face?”. Despite the tiny punch to my stomach and the tears that followed, I felt relieved that someone FINALLY had the courage to admit that my acne was real, that I wasn’t making it up. For so long, I had struggled with an annoying stress-and-hormone-and-everything-induced acne condition, but everyone around me kept telling me that it “wasn’t as bad as I perceived it to be” and that “I was beautiful no matter what” and that also “no one really notices it.” Well, I noticed it, dammit! Didn’t that count for something??? 

It did. It does. 

When I first started thinking about turning photography into a full-blown career, I remember comparing myself to my peers based on what they'd experienced and what I hadn't. They'd either had a rough childhood or gone through some sort of dramatic experience that led them to feel more than me - in my eyes, their voice, their expression, their work mattered more than mine. I remember feeling that I'd never create anything as compelling as them because nothing that'd happened to me had been that bad. I mention this because when it comes to digging into what we're feeling or what our story is, we're all equally worth the work and worth the freedom from it. 

It doesn't matter if it's something as seemingly simple as an acne predisposition or as serious as an eating disorder, it all matters equally. What I feel matters. What you feel matters. We all feel shitty sometimes, we all struggle with self-esteem issues, we all feel beautiful sometimes, but not so beautiful other times. It’s all real. When it comes to loving MY skin, the first step I had to take was to simply admit to myself that I didn’t have to love it ALL the time. That just wasn’t a realistic approach for me and every time someone tried to diminish what I was feeling, it just made the feeling exponentially stronger. One day, however, I was having a cup of coffee with my friend and she just blurted out something about hating her wrinkles. I looked at her in disbelief because I honestly couldn’t see what she was referring to. A lightbulb lit up in my head. Was it possible that I was looking at her through some biased lens because I deeply cared for her? Like beer goggles but instead of beer it was love? I thought back to that evening at my neighbors' and realized my young friend was acknowledging me and my biggest insecurity through eyes of innocence, and it was then that I first asked myself, “How can I be present with how I feel - and maybe a little innocent and raw - but still choose to see myself through the eyes of love?” 

We are masters of lifting our loved ones up and loving them wholly. We're all willing to accept their stories, holdups, challenges and struggles as somehow more valid than ours. The biggest challenge I’ve faced in loving myself as a whole and not despite my perceived flaws but because of them has been in turning the lens of love around on myself. One of my favorite [paraphrased] quotes is, “Care for yourself like you would the most special person in your life.” It speaks to me because I tend to give love freely, affirm others with all my heart and lift them up until they believe me, but I’ve noticed that I rarely give myself the same blessing. Does anyone relate to this? Realizing this was the first move into stepping into a life of authentic self-love. Self-love doesn’t mean the crap I sometimes feel insecure about doesn’t exist or that my story is less meaningful, it means that I choose to see a bigger picture. A more loving picture. 

What does that look like for me? I tend to eat healthier, workout harder, meditate more often, research about natural skin remedies, ask people about what’s worked for them, do more face masks, practice more fun yoga poses, wear more colorful clothing, roll deliciously scented oils all over my skin, surround myself with positive people, go out more, stay in more, and just about anything else that lights me up. This whole loving-myself-in-the-skin-I’m-in thing is one of the hardest practices I’ve honestly thrown myself into, but it’s also one of the most liberating experiences I’ve felt. No matter what your particular thing is, I’m certain you’ve experienced freedom from it at some point. Maybe it was a passing compliment, maybe it was a great mood or even something as simple as great lighting! But that powerful feeling is the closest thing to tangible that the self-love lifestyle continuously brings - if you choose it. 

Let's continue to lift each other up and to allow each of our stories to be told. In verbalizing what's holding us back from fully loving ourselves we release its hold on us and therefore create space for love to settle.

Yours in all things love,

Tutti


This post is written in collaboration with some of the most stellar and deep-thinking women I've met. It's a series called The Refined Collective, organized by The Refined Woman. Each month, we'll each share our thoughts on an assigned topic. This month is all about Loving The Skin You're In. Be sure and check out the other women who are a part of this Collective: Katherine Harris, Lauren Scruggs Kennedy, Chelsey Korus, Danielle Bennet, Kate Labat, Joanne Encarnacion and Nikia Phoenix.