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Body Image. As a therapist, I have worked with many clients who have poor or warped body images. I have worked with people who saw themselves too fat, too skinny, too ugly, too pretty, too unsymmetrical, too manly, too feminine. You name it, I have seen it. As a woman, I have had issues with my own body image. I have been overweight all of my life and struggled with losing weight. My body image has dictated how confident I felt around men, around colleagues and ultimately around clients.
However, marrying a wonderful man who loved me regardless of my self-perceived imperfections and despite my attempts to sabotage the relationship helped me quiet my inner Nazi who was convinced I would die fat, alone and miserable. My husband was committed to me for the long haul. Did this change my body image? Definitely. It is amazing what some positive experiences and words do to poor self-esteem. Sure, you can sit there and argue with your deluded suitors but sooner or later you start doubting your negativity. Does this mean I now see myself like some Victoria Secret Model? Nope. I still see the chubby girl but at least I am no longer convinced that I am an unlovable ogre. That little difference has made the difference how others see me as well.
I am now embarking on a small alteration to my appearance. I am doing a chemical peel to even out my skin tone. This week I am taking all of you on this process. The why. The how. The what the hells!
Today I tackle the why. I started receiving therapy in my late teens and early 20’s. As a psychology major and in graduate school, it was recommended not only as a learning tool but a healthier way of life. I have continued to work on myself over the last 20+ years. I am now a perky 44. Oh, who am I fooling? Perky has never been an adjective to describe me. I am more the snarky, cynical, sarcastic and caustic type. You can also describe me as full figured with great skin and hair.
It wasn’t until I had Ricky at the tender age of 41 that I noticed any dark spots on my face. I was 6 months pregnant and I had a dark brown spot over my right eye. I showed it to my OBGyn and he mentioned melasma or the mask of pregnancy. By the time I gave birth, the melasma could be seen on the lower part of each cheek as well. My doctor told me that it would probably go away by itself over a few months. A year later I was accosting my cousin, the dermatologist, during an Easter celebration and asking him for advice. He told me it would go away on its own in 5 to 10 years.
With some women it does resolve itself spontaneously but for me, almost 4 years since it showed up, it is still visible to me. Most people don’t notice. I have to take the time to point it out and share my feelings about how once again; my body has denied me of perfection. You see, that’s the foundation of all body image issues. You have an idea of what is perfect and when your body does not cooperate, you get upset. My skin is a betrayal to my image of perfection.
Doing a body altering procedure is a slippery slope. I realize that the chemical peel could open the flood gates to more drastic measures to achieve a perfection that resides somewhere in my synapses. However, as is the foundation of Gestalt therapy, awareness is the key. I am proceeding with my peel because I want to recognize my face again. I want to see the dimples and twinkle in my eye and not have my sight drawn to the ‘imperfections’. I would like to focus on my smile rather than the dark spots that have taken up residence on a face I had accepted and gotten use to. I am doing the peel to return to the ‘me’ I know and love. I am not interested in changing myself just finding the old me.
I will be using an AHA Kojic Peel to lighten my skin. Thanks to the wonderful people at Skin-Peel.com who provided me with the product for review. Also, if you are interested, you can receive 20% off your order at Skin-Peel.com just by typing in ‘SHEBLOGS’ (use before 12/31/2010).
Check in later today to see the video of me applying the product, with all of my usual commentary.