Eyebrows *FINALLY* On Fleek: My Microblading Experience

I don’t do this often, but I’m going to begin this post with two warnings:

  1. Forgive me if this seems a little scattered; I don’t usually write on topics like this and I have a brand new, very curious, VERY playful kitten at my keyboard right now.
  2. Some of the photos you’re about to see show me wearing a funny pink hat/show off my blemishes under a fluorescent light. Totally understand that these are now free for blackmailing purposes.

 

…now that that’s out of the way, I GOT MY EYEBROWS MICROBLADED, EVERYONE! This comes after months of people sending me articles on microblading after reading my post about my history with trichotillomania (and subsequent struggle with sparse and wacky brows). I’ve never been very good at makeup (seriously, there’s like 5 things in my makeup bag), and the stress of knowing that I wasn’t very good at filling them in made my regular morning routine kind of stressful. One of the best gifts that anyone could have given me for my wedding is good brows, and thanks to Leah Dudeck (instagram: @leahrosied), I got them!

Here is a brief rundown of the experience:

  • After filling out a bunch of consent forms (think getting a tattoo or piercing), Leah mapped out my brows using measurement tools and string. She was SO precise, which really showed the discrepancies that existed between my brows. From the looks of it, my left brow was a good half-inch shorter in the front than my right!
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(Here you can see how she’s mapped out the frame of where my brows should ideally lay, as opposed to where they lay now. You can also see the sparse spots toward the bottom line where I typically would pull at them.)
  • Next, we had to choose a shade. What’s awesome about microblading is that the colors can be mixed in almost any combination to match each person’s unique shade! Using my forehead as a palette (which made it easy because it’s right above my brows) Leah mixed three different combinations of “chocolate”, “chestnut”, and “dark chocolate” before finding the shade that was right for me.

 

  • Finally, it was time to get started! I should mention that everything about this process is totally sterile and safe. Leah made sure to properly sterilize her hands and equipment throughout the entire procedure and wore gloves to ensure proper sanitation. When it was finally time to apply my new brows, I was a tad nervous, but mostly excited!

 

  • The best way to describe the feeling of microblading would be to imagine being lightly scraped while you have a sunburn. Not the best description, but I promise, it wasn’t that bad! I never felt like I needed a break or like I was absolutely going to die from the pain. What DID surprise me was that the tool that Leah used was not like a tattoo machine…it did not turn on, buzz, and fill in color. It was just a tiny slanted blade that was dipped in pigment and lightly applied to the top layer of my skin. What also surprised me was that while my left brow was a breeze, my right brow triggered all kinds of stress reactions on my face; my eye started watering like CRAZY, and I felt a weird tingly feeling in the bridge of my nose, almost like I was going to sneeze!

 

  • Throughout the process, Leah applied three “passes” on each of my eyebrows…a “pass” just refers to the process of applying  the hair-like strokes over the brow. I thought the second and third pass would hurt significantly worse than the first, but it actually wasn’t like that at all! Despite being scraped repeatedly, no part of the process was unbearable.

 

  • Once Leah was satisfied with them, she “masked” my brows. Basically, she applied a mask of the pigment over each eyebrow to soak in the pigment for 15 minutes. Then she wiped them clean and, after applying some healing-hustle butter, revealed my new brows:

 

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WHAT. A. DIFFERENCE!

The pigment is more consistent with my coloring, the sparse areas are filled in, and that annoyingly rigid bottom line is now straight & pristine. Both brows are the same size, and meet at the same place above my eyes. The strokes came out very natural, doing an excellent job at mimicking real hair. And the best part? I DON’T HAVE TO FILL THEM IN. (Considering that I’ve been filling them in every single day for the past 13 years, that’s extremely liberating).

This may seem very minor, but the increase in my confidence since getting this done has been tremendous. I STILL look in the mirror and gasp at the fact that my eyebrows can actually look like this. All my life, this has been my biggest insecurity. Because someone somewhere decided to introduce microblading into the cosmetic industry, I can finally allow myself to deeply and fully love this face of mine…just in time for my summer wedding!

(Psssst…Leah also does lots of other things! Hair cuts, colors, you name it! She’s based in Kingston, PA. Hit her up on the insta @leahrosied).

 

B.

 

 

 

 

 

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On Being “Liked” and Finding Peace With Myself

We all have our “things” that hold us back from living our best lives. I fiercely believe that from the time of birth up until we’re old enough to pick up on social cues and obsess over interpersonal relationships, we are, for a sliver of our lives, truly and fearlessly ourselves. I didn’t realize until I was in college that people had a tendency of not liking the person that I was, truly and fearlessly, upon first impression. Once this became my reality, it began to consume me.

I spent a ridiculous amount of time analyzing every second of every day to see if I could figure out what it was about me that turned people off. I knew that I had a handful of friends who would make jokes that my face looked mean, that I didn’t smile enough, and that I was too aggressive. I never took these things into consideration before because I never felt like I had to; I was comfortable with my small friend group in high school. I knew I wasn’t popular, but I wouldn’t have considered myself hated either. I was comfortable, and I was (mostly) unapologetically myself. Once I moved to college and out of my hometown bubble, things shifted for me. I was introduced to many different personalities from many, MANY different parts of the world, and I didn’t know how to handle the fact that almost none of them seemed to be able to stand me.

I think what bothered me the most is that I know I’m a “good person.” I do and say and believe most things that the generic “good person” would do and say and believe; I like to make others feel happy, I care about and actively try to advocate for the less fortunate, I give people the benefit of the doubt, I love cats and pizza…what else do I need? I thought that what people expected of me was too tall an order, I felt saddened that so many would judge me so harshly based off of a singular interaction, and I felt bitter that these people, who were so unapologetically judgmental toward me, seemed to have no trouble making friends.

It didn’t take long for me to find that circle in college that made me feel like I could be who I was and not apologize for it (“R.B.F” and all). My college experience could have been much different without them, and I am eternally grateful for the amazing sense of community and acceptance that I was able to feel with them. However, this desperate need to be liked has had a lasting (and damaging) effect on me as I’ve transitioned into adulthood.

“All of this to say, I am beginning to love myself. Not the self that I pretend to be because I feel that the world expects it, but the self that is deeply and intensely known by those closest to me and who choose to love me anyway.”

Vocationally and personally, I spend hours stewing over any minor interaction that could maybe have given someone the wrong impression of my character. If I advocate for myself, I get nervous that it made me come off as aggressive or rude. If I’m tired and I don’t immediately smile at the person waiting at the copier with me or greet the barista at 7:00 a.m with a beaming grin and a cheery “good morning,” I will think about that interaction for the entire day. Did she turn and talk to her coworkers about the bitchy lady in the drive-thru window? Did she use me as an example of why she hates her job? Do my coworkers/friends/neighbors think I’m too loud, too confident, too opinionated, or a “nasty woman?” Should I be smiling more?

Someone very close to me recently helped me to start to sift through some of the most pressing criticisms I’ve received and weed out the TRUE bits and pieces of my character. Once the outer layer of perceived reality is chiseled away, what’s left is this: There have been times when I’ve been ferociously anxious and depressed (more anxious these days) and my face reflects these things when I’m under attack. The depression (to which the constant critique of my disposition probably didn’t help) was at it’s worst in college, so this probably contributed to my face looking mean. I am opinionated, and folks don’t always appreciate when women are confident and unapologetic about their desires, goals, beliefs, and philosophies. Much of my college’s demographic expected women to be docile and soft-spoken…and there’s nothing wrong with being that way! It’s simply not who I am, and I continue to be misjudged based on qualities that seem “aggressive” for a female.

I am still trying to un-learn that the core parts of my personality are inherently “bad” and that I ought to be ashamed of who I am. My desire to be liked and crippling fear of being disliked has ruined many days that should have been spent enjoying this wonderful life I am so fortunate to have. All of this to say, I am beginning to love myself. Not the self that I pretend to be because I feel that the world expects it, but the self that is deeply and intensely known by those closest to me and who choose to love me anyway. I know that there are parts of the framework of my personality that are flawed, and I am willing to go through the painful process of confronting and changing the things that require reform. I am not claiming to be without fault; I am simply refusing to apologize for the things that make up the inner workings of my most intimate and true self. And I will never, ever apologize for how my face looks again.

-B

 

California Says Coffee Should Come With a Cancer Warning

California says coffee should come with a cancer warning.

For reasons beyond the capacity of my knowledge (or patience to obtain said knowledge), a judge in California recently argued that, due to a certain chemical used in the process of filtering coffee, coffee should now yield similar warnings to that of cigarettes.

As a daily coffee drinker, this is crazy (and a little scary) to hear.

Depending on where you are in California, there is a decent chance that you may find yourself wandering into a Starbucks only to be bombarded by warnings that resemble that of a tobacco shop…words of caution for those who are seeking their daily caffeine boost that, if you do decide to indulge in this quick stimulant, you understand that you are assuming the risk of shortening your life.

I’m not arguing that coffee does or does not cause cancer. I do know that I will likely continue consuming my daily cup until someone other than a judge in California can prove to me that I will, in fact, die an early death solely from my coffee consumption.

I don’t know if coffee makes you die faster. But do you know what does make you die faster? Stress & anxiety.

Crippling depression.

Why don’t these come with cancer warnings? No, there probably isn’t solid proof that these things lead to cancer…that they shift the molecules in your body and create stress reactions that lead to the overproduction of malignant cells in your body that cause early death. But then again, there’s no solid proof that coffee does that, either. And that gets a label. Because it might. 

DSC_0209Heather McBride Photography

Maybe, just maybe, coffee could make you die sooner. But so does the mind-numbing fear of the hypochondriac when she’s told that something she thought was relatively harmless is actually slowly killing her, so she now fears each and every ache, pain, itch, and bump in her body. She rushes to the doctor only to be told that her lump, which she only could assume was the work of stage 4 cancer that she hadn’t realized she was living with (as a direct result of her Dunkin Donuts addiction) was actually just a pimple on her skin.

Good news. Except she was so sure she was dying, that she actually just spent the past two weeks having 4-5 panic attacks a day…destroying her digestive and nervous system to the point where she has to ease herself back into eating solid food. She really, truly thought this was the end. It’s part of her anxiety, hypochondria. But that doesn’t come with a cancer warning.

Or the depression that confines the sufferer to her bed with permanent dread filling her stomach in place of the food she hasn’t eaten in days. The parts of her malfunctioning brain that refuse to send distress signals to the body because it seems as though they’ve given up too. That doesn’t come with a cancer warning.

OR the daily 9-5 grind that work the body, mind, and soul into the ground. That doesn’t come with a cancer warning.

But coffee? High fructose corn syrup? Wheat bread? No way, Jose.

I’m not saying that we should ignore warnings (from reputable sources) that imply certain dangers in the foods that we eat. I believe wholeheartedly in caring for our bodies, and I do believe that we have a certain amount of control over whether we die early or not.

But this effort spans far beyond the confines of food.

We need to explore the physical dangers of hazardous thoughts, toxic life situations, and mental health. We need to address them. We need to give them the attention they deserve, because they’re killing more people in more ways than we know.

Maybe we can do that if we stop trying to cure cancer by eliminating foods.

-B

Fear.

What. A. Winter.

I’ll be honest, when PA had those few 70-something days in the middle of February, I was naive enough to believe that I MIGHT be able to retire my winter coat early this year.

Mother nature thought that was hilarious.

Now that we’re facing our second nor’easter this week (rendering me home from work), I’ve decided to go ahead and attempt to free the things that drive me insane when I’m alone with my thoughts for this long – my fears. My greatest and biggest and deepest ones.

Now, fear is a complex topic. Everyone fears plenty of things and there are some common fears that most people actually share (i.e. losing loved ones, dying suddenly, etc.). And still, there are different fears that fall under a wider umbrella category forming sort of one big, gigantic fear that trickles down and causes these other little tiny ones.

I won’t address the generic, shared fears here (the ones that pretty much everyone has). Instead, I’ll list some of the categorical umbrella-fears along with the little things that fall underneath. And to make this a little therapeutic rather than traumatizing, I’ll also name some reasons why these are, in fact, just fears…not reality.

{note: this is not a comprehensive list.}

1. The Fear: Running Out of Money

Growing up, I’ve always had this weird anxiety about money. Although my parents would probably argue that I often didn’t understand the value of a dollar as a teenager, I truly always felt a sense of guilt whenever they needed to pay for anything for me that wasn’t absolutely essential. Dance lessons, dance costumes, money for class trips, and anything else that was pricey & non-essential caused me a great deal of stress over whether we would lose our home or have to get rid of our dog because the cost was just too much. And it would be all. My. Fault.

Though I can look back on this now with a decent amount of clarity, I still struggle with money fears today. Especially as a young adult, living on my own for the first time, paying bills, AND trying to plan a wedding places a mostly-silent-but-often-recurring anxiety that one day, Shane and I will literally just run out of money. Just like that. It’ll all disappear, and we’ll never have any again.

The Reality: Phew, that’s over. Now, the good part: there is no way that we will just suddenly “run out of money.” Seriously. A therapist once helped me come to this conclusion in a session where I was either worried about my own finances or that of my parents’, I can’t remember which; but either way, it’s just not going to happen that way. Shane and I are both tremendously hard working people with equally hard working and supportive families. For a couple of 23-year olds, we budget pretty well. We’re smart with what we have. We both recently received raises at our jobs for hard work and performance, and we’re determined to succeed and flourish anywhere we are placed. We’ve achieved a routine each month where we know which bills are being taken out of which paychecks, when we should grocery shop, how much we should set aside to save, and how we will go about handling wedding expenses over these next 5 months. Do people unfortunately find themselves in the position where they “run out of money?” Yes. And I’m not denying that it could happen to anyone, including us. But will it happen to us overnight because of ONE high heat bill ONE time? No. We won’t let it happen. Our families won’t let it happen. Everything always gets paid for. We will be okay.

2. The Fear: Rejection

I’m going to get very honest (honesty- that’s a fear I forgot to mention) here…I want people to like me. Like, really bad. Actually, I would probably go so far as to even say that I am desperate to have people like me. When I say that I fear rejection, I don’t just mean in the classic “I don’t like you like that” or “sorry, we just don’t think you’re right for the job” type way. I mean that when people meet me, I want people to think that I am just the coolest person. I want them to find me confident, smart, funny, unique, likable, and fierce. I NEED people to validate the things that I try so hard to portray when I really don’t feel it myself. I want people to react in ways that validate my own feelings toward myself, that boost my confidence and self-esteem, and make me feel that I am somehow worthy of living up to the identity that I have adopted. This is not okay. This is how my “umbrella-fear” of rejection has directly affected virtually every area of my life, including the chance to establish worth for myself.

The Reality: No one on Earth needs to give me validation for my identity when Christ himself formed me from the very seedling of my creation and decided then and there that I held tremendous worth. Point. Blank. Period. I know that seems like a cop-out for a more elaborate rationalization, but it’s the single most important truth that unmistakably proves this fear to be insignificant. Compared to the money thing, I still have a long way to go before I’m free from this one. However, I’m finding that as I grow deeper into adulthood, exploring what it means to be who I am is becoming more and more of a “me” thing and less of something that is gifted to me by others.

3. The Fear: Being By Myself

Notice how I didn’t say “being alone…” this is because “alone” and “by myself” are actually very different things. I view “being alone” as perpetual loneliness…I don’t fear that. I’m confident enough in my personal relationships to not fear the permanence of “being alone.” Again, what I fear is being by myself. Kind of like I am right now.

Anxiety and depression affect everyone differently; some prefer to be alone due to  social anxiety, and others tend to find comfort in the presence of others. Not only do I identify with the second category, but I literally have a phobia of being by myself. The worst is when I’m home and Shane isn’t…whether he be at work, visiting his family in NH, or just out with the guys, being by myself is something that I try and avoid at ALL COSTS. Normally when the weather is clear and I find myself in this situation, I’ll get in my car and drive to Target. I won’t even buy anything, I’ll just walk around for hours JUST to be around people instead of being at home alone with my thoughts. That luxury wasn’t afforded to me today thanks to the winter storm, so I’m kind of forced to deal with my thoughts for a minute, which lead me to writing this post, which leads me to…

The Reality: I’m realizing more and more that being by myself for a little while is a gift, not something to be feared. I’m making the conscious decision to really start to value the time when I’m by myself and use it to re-center my mind and spirit. Instead of focusing on my anxieties during this time, I’ll pray, write, do yoga, take a bath…anything that I normally can’t do when surrounded by people, but that are so important to my mental and spiritual health. By making these little shifts in how I view “alone time,” I’m slowly beginning to reject this fear that once plagued me and held me back from so much opportunity to grow.

When I consider all of these things, I become more aware of the fact that “fears” are usually a reconstruction or dramatization of something we’ve thought up for ourselves. This isn’t to say that our fears are not unfounded…actually, they’re pretty much always conceived in SOME type of truth about our lives/past trauma that we’ve endured.

I think the key here is to stop viewing fears as things that are actually happening. Or about to happen. Or things that can even rationally happen at all.

What matters now is the reality that we are living in this moment: take the time to focus on the ways that you’ve been blessed, taken care of, and loved.

B. 

Who’s Wedding Is It Anyway?

Ugh. So many thoughts went into the mental blueprint of this post that I honestly don’t even know where to start (maybe this means I should be making ACTUAL blueprints for my writing instead of being so gosh darn impulsive…oh well).

I guess I’ll start by stating the obvious: planning a wedding is hard.

I know, SUCH a radical realization, right?? To be honest, my naive self didn’t completely understand why wedding planners made so much money before becoming engaged and planning it all myself (with my fiance’s help, of course!) Let’s just say I get it now.

I mean, there’s SO MUCH TO DO! Even when you’re having fun doing it, it’s still a lot to manage on top of having a full time job that requires most of your attention most of the time. If you’re indecisive (like me), or have a certain vision that doesn’t seem to be feasible, it can be downright ANXIETY INDUCING.

Let’s separate ourselves, though, from the unavoidable realities of wedding planning for a minute. Instead, let’s focus on the not-so-necessary aspects of the whole thing…the annoying little gnats that really have no place in your planning process but seem to buzz their way in there regardless, making things all the more stressful for you…the pressure to have a perfectly traditional-while-also-progressive, Pinterest-worthy wedding that definitely isn’t too basic, while also pleasing your Aunt Susan by making sure the music doesn’t get too raunchy and ensuring that you do everything humanely possible to get married in the EXACT same fashion as the rest of the women in your family had for the past 100 years (but, you know, don’t be TOO traditional because that’ll piss off your best friend from college who doesn’t even understand why you’re getting married in the first place). 

Okay, so that was a little (very) dramatic.

Let me clear the air by saying that not all of that bolded portion directly reflects me personally…I don’t have an Aunt Susan (I made the name up) and I don’t think any of my friends are questioning my decision to marry because anyone who knows me knows that I pretty much knew Shane was my husband from the first time we went on a double-date to a hipster pizza place in Berwyn together. Nope, that was simply an expression of my personal experiences with wedding planning pressure combined with that of some other brides I’ve known and heard from, all mixed together to form a nice bridezilla* and angst smoothie.

*[I hate the word bridezilla, btw. I think it’s sexist. And unfair. But that’s for another post.]

The point is, there are so many things that we, as brides, have had to worry about since, well, a pretty long time ago (I hesitate to say “since the beginning of time” because that’s a really loaded statement and I’m not trying to go there right now. Maybe Eve worried about tablecloths when she married Adam. Probably not. Either way, irrelevant). We’ve had to worry about guest lists and invitations and food and desserts and, well, tablecloths, forever. As long as people keep getting married, that’ll probably still be a thing.

BUT, Pinterest hasn’t always been around.

Instagram hasn’t always been around.

Bridal blogs haven’t always been around.

And opinionated guests? Well, I suppose they’ve been around a little longer than the internet, but they still don’t help.

And here, we find that we’ve come full circle to our “Who’s Wedding Is It Anyway?” tagline. On top of everything else that can potentially cause a bride distress, there’s mounting pressure in the present day to have your real wedding live up to the imaginary  ones that people paste together on Pinterest. Instagram wants to see a venue-turned-green garden with tea lights and flower crowns EVERYWHERE. Blogs and forums tell you what you absolutely must AND what you absolutely mustn’t do. Your friends tell you what *they* would like to see at your wedding. Some guests want to bring their kids, others don’t want kids anywhere near them at a wedding. Wedding websites tell you what you need to do to maintain “proper wedding etiquette.” And of course, your Aunt Susan wants to see you wear white, NOT ivory or blush. 

So, who’s wedding is it anyway?

YOURS. (duh)

If you want a “hipster wedding” have one. If you want a barefoot beach wedding where you jump into the ocean and ruin your dress right after your vows, do it. If you want your wedding to be a family affair, great! If you want to keep it adults-only, awesome. If you want to go traditional, woohoo! If you’d rather ditch tradition, ditch it.

If you have some kind of crazy wedding cocktail that’s part traditional, part non-traditional, part hipster, part Pinterest, part who-the-heck-knows-what, even better.

AND FINALLY, if you decide you wanna forget the whole thing altogether and elope, I hope your elopement day is FANTASTIC.

In the end, this wedding belongs to you and your life partner. Not Pinterest, not Instagram, not your friends, and definitely NOT your Aunt Susan.

A wedding’s purpose is to celebrate love.

Take ownership of this experience.

And do not let ANYONE steal your wedding planning joy.

B. 

*featured image by Heather McBride Photography

Zits Mean That I Am Alive

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I recently revealed via Instagram (@britwithane 😉 ) that during my anticipation of the new year, I had tremendous, well-meaning plans to write an entry about New Years Resolutions and how I think they’re ridiculous. I never wrote that post, and in the spirit of total honesty, it was 100% due to lack of motivation…and because my goal this year is to NOT  beat myself to a pulp over not meeting my own imaginary expectations, I’m not going to stress about it. The intention was there and the ideas were great, but they simply were never meant to come to fruition. And that’s O.K.

Instead, I’m going to write about zits.

Yes, zits. Pimples. Acne. Mounds of facial destruction. Whatever your preferred term, I think we can all agree that these unwanted guests are almost always, well, unwanted. 

Is it just me, or does it seem like zits almost ALWAYS arise when it’s LEAST convenient to have zits? I think we can all recall at least one situation in our lives that showcases this unfortunate reality: you wake up for a job interview, and three new “friends” have planted themselves square on your chin, nose, and forehead…red and swollen as can be. You wake up on the morning of the ONLY Saturday that you can dedicate to renewing your driver’s license, only to find that your face looks like the solar system, except not nearly as stellar. Or, worst of all, you show up at your job working with small, brutally honest children, and one points at your face and says “You got a boo boo?” (yikes)

Awesome. Now that I’ve taken you to that place (you’re welcome), I’m sure you can imagine my TOTAL FRUSTRATION when I woke up on the morning of a scheduled photo shoot with four or five very large, very visible pimples spread across my face, making an almost connect-the-dots-like picture of a moon (I’m serious, the very first thing I noticed was that if you came up to me with a marker and literally connected the dots on my face, you would have an almost perfect depiction of a crescent moon).

It’s worth mentioning that I’ve never really struggled with my skin…with the exception of my bumpy and oily middle school years, of course. Aside from that ~glorious~ rite of passage, my skin had always remained relatively clear and seemingly satisfied with my minimal routine of Aveeno Apricot facial scrub: once in the morning and once at night. So when my face broke out like this, on the morning of a photo shoot, nonetheless, I was devastated AND confused.

It was also a Sunday, so Shane and I made our way to church despite my internal desire to just stay home and tend to my poor face. I tried my best to cover it all up, but I still felt as though EVERYONE was marveling at the twisted crescent moon I was displaying on the most visible part of my body. It was rough. But then, I heard the message. And it spoke to me.

More honesty, ya’ll: I don’t remember much of the rest of the sermon. But what I do remember is the preacher at one point declaring that “the thing in your right hand is a lie. Essentially, this meant that whatever you hold “in your right hand” that holds you back + acts as a distraction from living loved in the way God desires for you is a lie. My lie, my distraction, the thing I was holding in my right hand, was my vanity. 

This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t care about the way we present ourselves; I still love to play with makeup and wear cute things! I sincerely believe that having a style that is uniquely your own is truly a reflection of God in you, and everyone should be proud of that. It only becomes a distraction when we become so obsessed with our physical appearance that it acts as a detriment to how we see ourselves, how we interact, how we live, and how we love. That is what happened to me that morning. That was my wake-up call.

DSC_0174(HMCB Photography)

The second I noticed a minor impurity on my physical self, I shut down. I couldn’t hold a conversation with my own fiance, let alone the people at church or at the store. Heck, I hardly even wanted my cat looking at me. I was so obsessed with how I looked that I internalized every single glance that came my way. Every conversation that I found myself in, I retracted and felt myself directing my gaze to the floor. I felt as though I was ugly, undesirable, and a shell of my true self.

HOWEVER, once I began to let go of what was in my right hand (my obsession with my physical appearance), I was able to see more clearly that having zits was actually NOT a detriment: it made me HUMAN. It meant that I had skin and pores and natural oils that worked together and sometimes screwed up. It meant that my workouts (which have been more intense lately) have been causing my body to produce sweat, meaning I was getting stronger. It meant that my body was this great, natural, organic specimen that worked in insanely spectacular ways. I was suddenly reminded that I have a body that can literally produce LIFE. It can fight off certain disease. It can run. It can squat. It can stretch. It can swim. It can breathe. And sometimes, it can produce pimples.

It’s actually a little hilarious how quickly my brain spiraled into all these crazy-deep revelations about the wonders of the human body based solely on a few pimples in the shape of a crescent moon + a line from a sermon at church. And while I definitely was still less than happy about it, I did end up flourishing during my photo session so much more than I would have if I hadn’t heard that line, and if I hadn’t released what was in my right hand, and if my eyes hadn’t been opened to the incredible gift that is having a body that works by itself.

If you don’t think that I’m a total lunatic by now (trust me, I would TOTALLY understand if you did), hopefully that means that you’ve gained a slightly better perspective on yourself and your own insecurities. I don’t know what’s in your right hand, but if you’re in the habit of obsessing over looking flawless all the time, hopefully you can remember that to be flawed is to be alive, and to be alive is wondrous.

Love,

B

An Open Letter To The Woman Who Insulted My Face

(cover photo by HMCB Photography)

To the elderly woman in the hair salon who insulted my face:

You will most likely never read this because, without profiling too much, you seem like the type of elderly person who prefers to avoid the internet if you can help it (which is totally fine. Maybe more young people should consider doing that, honestly). However, your significantly younger home nurse may come across it one day, so I feel the need to tell you that I am not mad at you, nor do I view you as a mean old lady with no filter.

I’ll admit that while I’ve had some time to rationalize my thoughts, I did originally view you that way for pretty much the entire night after the incident that I’m about to describe. I was hurt, taken off guard, and completely insecure for the remainder of the evening. I couldn’t even bring myself to go to church that night, which everyone knows I actually love dearly.

I understand that you most likely didn’t mean any direct harm by what you said. I could tell from the second I walked in and saw you getting ready to leave that you had lived a long life, filled with experiences beyond my imagination, and that you have reached a point in your life where you now need a nurse to escort you to do simple tasks such as getting your hair done and going to the store. I don’t know if this was a hard adjustment for you or if you were okay with it. I just know that I DON’T know, and therefore I can’t sit here and try to come up with reasons why you said what you said. Maybe you just like telling it like you see it, and that’s also fine.

I can’t say for sure where you are mentally. I don’t know if you suffer from any form of Alzheimers or dementia, or if your mind is clear. All I know is that you are a person who has lived longer than I could probably hope, and therefore I have nothing but respect for the person you were and are now.

When you stopped on your way out the door to stare at my face, I thought the best thing to do would be to politely say “hi” and flash a smile of respect. I wasn’t expecting you to rant about how my face looked, and how you couldn’t believe “such a pretty girl” would make herself look “like that.”

During your rant, I was shocked. However, I wasn’t actually hurt by your comments on my nose ring (ugh, the amount of times I’ve heard THAT one is insurmountable), or how you thought my eyelashes looked fake and clumpy, or how my foundation wasn’t the right shade. I’m not a makeup expert and I openly own that my makeup most likely DID look like that. Oh well.

The part that made me unable to laugh the whole experience off was when you commented on my eyebrows. You thought I didn’t look natural because I had them filled in. You said you could tell I filled them in, and that I was taking away from my natural beauty. What you didn’t understand, and couldn’t possibly have understood, is that I have suffered from trichotillomania since before I can remember.

DSC_6142(photo: HMCB Photography)

I don’t know why the researchers decided to give this condition such a ridiculous name. I usually don’t even call it by it’s name when I tell people, because when I do, I’m usually confronted with “huh??” and believe it or not, that makes me feel even more abnormal than I already do. So on the rare occasion that I do mention it, I normally just tell people that I have a nervous habit where I pull at my eyebrows until they come out, and I’ve been obsessively doing this almost my entire life.

There are types of trich where sufferers actually pull out the hair on their head, leaving giant bald patches where their hair should be. I fully understand that, in the world of trich, I am one of the lucky ones. It is much easier to fake having eyebrows than it is to fake having a full head of hair, and my heart goes out to those friends because I know first hand how hard it is to stop, even though you know that it’s ruining you. Still, though I recognize that my form of trich isn’t nearly as severe as cases like that, it’s still difficult to get through life with no brows when “eyebrows on fleek” is trending.

I don’t know why I pull out my eyebrows. My mom says that she can remember me starting right around the time my parents went through their divorce, so it may potentially have been a response to that stress. I also suffer from depression, for which I have been both hospitalized and medicated, and my last therapist attributed it to that. I think it’s a little of both. Usually, trichotillomania isn’t an isolated mental illness, but rather a reaction to one that already exists. 

Either way, it sucks. I can understand how those who don’t suffer from trich wouldn’t be able to make sense of it…I can’t even make sense of it. I just know that I can’t stop, particularly when I’m in a high stress situation (which for me is an any-stress situation). The best thing I could compare it to is nail biting, which is much more common but is also a compulsive behavior that is difficult to stop.

So, ma’am, when you pointed out the unnaturalness of my filled-in brows, it cut me deep. Something I haven’t given much thought to since I started coming to terms with it came rushing back into my system like a tsunami. I know I suck at filling in my brows, because usually, there’s a natural line or arch for folks to follow when filling them in. For me, it’s significantly more difficult, because I HAVE NO NATURAL LINE as most of my eyebrow hairs are permanently gone and I have nothing left but slivers and sparse patches. So I do what I can.

I’m painfully aware of my bad brows. I always have been; except in middle school, Cara Delevingne hadn’t yet come on the scene promoting her full bush brows as a trend, so it was kind of acceptable to wax them into shoestrings to match the non-trich folks. Now, though, it’s a struggle. They say the first thing an interviewer looks at upon meeting you is your eyebrows. If that’s the case, I don’t know how I’m employed (I actually doubt that’s the case but I read that somewhere once).

Your nurse was extremely apologetic. I could tell she felt uncomfortable, but the look on her face and the words that came after told me that this wasn’t the first time you had done something like this. I pretended to laugh to make her feel better, and you both left.

I wanted to run home. I didn’t want to get my hair cut because that would mean the hairstylist would be painfully close to my terrible brows. I thought that people were probably always judging my brows, but that you were the first person to actually say something because you felt you had nothing to lose. I felt ugly, insecure, and disappointed in myself for not being able to get a grip. Instead of going home, though, I went to the stylists chair. I wasn’t about to waste my stylists’ time.

When I got in the car, I took out my pack of makeup wipes and scrubbed them off as hard as I could. Instead of going to church, which I had anticipated most of the day, I went to the Target to scour the aisles for something that could save my brows, because obviously what I was doing was making me look worse. I had a panic attack. I cried. It was all very dramatic.

Again, I know you didn’t know. And even if I was somehow able to tell you, you might not even understand. I’m not trying to be overly-sensitive…like I said, nothing else you commented on probably would have affected me as much had it not been for that ONE comment that played directly to a 20 year old insecurity. It was extremely painful.

“My goal is to one day grow them out enough to where I can leave my home without even touching them and feel confident in doing so. Maybe I should try doing that now. I’m not ashamed of my disorder, after all. And if you are a fellow trich sufferer, you don’t need to be ashamed either.”

I’m reminded now that the reason I tried straight across bangs in the first place was to make an attempt to hide my brows. However, I actually love my face with them now, and feel like I would keep them regardless. I’m reminded of how much I hate walking into Sephora or Ulta because those women and men know so much about makeup and would be able to tell that I struggle with my brows. But that ONE time that a girl in Ulta told me that I had a really nice complexion and really beautiful brows (it was one of my “good brow days”) it completely made my afternoon. I’m choosing now to focus on those things in an effort to increase my sense of self-acceptance.

I like to believe that I’m getting better at finding a good balance between filling in my eyebrows enough to hide my trich and making them too unnatural looking. Like I said, that’s hard to do when you don’t really have brows to begin with, but I’m learning what works and what doesn’t. My goal is to one day grow them out enough to where I can leave my home without even touching them and feel confident in doing so. Maybe I should try doing that now. I’m not ashamed of my disorder, after all. And if you are a fellow trich sufferer, you don’t need to be ashamed either.

This experience was so painful and embarrassing for me, but in a way, I’m glad. Like I said, I’m not upset with you. I respect you, and I’m glad that you have the opportunity to still do the things you’ve always done, like go and get your hair done. What you said struck a nerve for me, but it also prompted me to be more open about my trichotillomania and to write this post, which I can’t say I would’ve done otherwise.

I’ll change how I do my eyebrows and even try to stop pulling. I agree, they should look more natural.

The nose ring, however, is here to stay.

Sincerely,

B