As I’m typing this, one hand is on the keyboard and the other alternating between scratching my skin and attempting to finish this blog post. Growing up with eczema meant that I had anything but perfect skin; I’d wake up to bleeding scars and wish that someday my skin would glow as much as my peers’. But since it is a life-long condition, I’ve learned that beauty, as much as people rant about its unrealistic/ unhealthy nature, is the key to building self confidence.
I define beauty as any mechanism that enhances or attempts to enhance one’s appearance. This can be traditional makeup to skincare products to photo editing tools to even reconstructive surgery. The new category of photo manipulation falls under beauty, since digital presence is integral to our identities arguably.
Skeptics easily attack beauty by simply saying we’re emphasizing the wrong values when it comes to understanding people; we should not be judged by our looks but rather by our personalities, values and actions. Yes, yes, yes I agree, yet other significant issues like sexism and racism are still embedded in the idea of difference in looks. So until we can reach the ideal level of equality (which can stir another years worth of discussion), beauty is here to stay and to empower.
Through applying numerous skincare products to mastering the power of Photoshop, I realized that something could be done to change my appearance; I didn’t have to sit and wait for my blemishes to disappear. There is a way of altering my exterior so I can see an improved version of myself. For once, I have the luxury of having a sense of control over what birth dictated.
And this isn’t something aimed to please the spectators’ eyes. It’s feeling good about ourselves and creating moments of sovereignty over our physical presences. That helps with our self-image and confidence, which are determining factors of how we interact with the society we live in. For me, that’s feeling less pain and less burden caused by my eczema, and more joy and more ease during social interactions. It’s an empowering tool that can shift our perspectives and actions daily so long we don’t abuse its versatility.
Pictured: Karen Reyes