Insecurities are horrible things, aren’t they? Giggling, pointing, snide, gossipy, cruel things. They’re the mean girl in your head, sniggering that you’re weird or unwanted or unattractive. They weave themselves into your thoughts, slowly thickening like a room filling with smoke. They start small and bloom on your brain, an ugly rash speckling every brunch or date or dinner with this feeling that you’re not quite right.
As an adult, I feel like I should be immune to this bullshit and yet I can still let the mean girl in. It’s my skin. It can’t cope with the heat. As soon as the sun comes out, all the spots that have been lurking under my skin rush to the surface, cheering, and set out neat rows of deckchairs on my forehead.
It’s a nightmare. This is the time when you’re meant to be at your slinkiest, when it’s all spaghetti straps and bed hair and thighs the colour of thick cocoa. Not striding around with a forehead that, given a couple more degrees, could probably have a fair shot at frying bacon.
A colleague invites me for drinks with a gorgeous friend and the panic immediately sets in: WHAT TO DO ABOUT THE FACE? Get her so legless she doesn’t notice? Break out the tits and thigh and bamboozle her with my nakedness? Get an emergency fringe?
I book in to see a professional. I might be able to laugh a woman into bed but at some point I’ll have to shut up and then the true horrors of my face will reveal themselves. It’s time to call in the big guns.
“What are you using on your face?” the consultant asks dubiously when I go and see her a week later.
“Erm…a mixture of things?” I reply. “I exfoliate every day though,” I say proudly.
“I don’t want you to exfoliate at all,” she says sternly. “I want you to put this oil on your face twice a day.”
“You want me to put…more oil…on my face?”
“Yes, your skin has been stripped of natural oils. We have to put them back.”
I leave 20 minutes later with £250 worth of oil and a face glistening like a donor kebab. She told me the routine would make me look younger. Well, I do look younger. I’m covered in spots and oily as fuck – I look about 15. When I finally meet up with my colleague and his friend, I feel her eyes slide off me with disappointment as the mean girl cackles:
Sometimes, loving yourself is hard. But the fact is – this is who I am: silly and charming and difficult and infuriating and loving and witty and dozy and vain and drunk and hopeless and well-meaning and occasionally very spotty. I can’t change that.
But I can change the way I see and talk to myself. I can kick the mean girl out and bolt the door. I can throw open the windows and let the room fill with fresh air. I can unscramble the bad thoughts from the good and flush them down the plug hole. I can choose to love myself, for better or for worse, and mean it.
And that’s exactly what I’m going to do.