Having the privilege to stay home during the COVID-19 pandemic has given me the space to be confronted with all my body image insecurities and find a path towards healing.
I’ve never seriously struggled with acne aside from a few blemishes but with all the stress I experienced in my first few weeks sheltering in place, my skin started breaking out.
With nothing else to focus on, I spent a lot of time in front of a mirror picking at my face to the point that I bled in front of the mirror.
The more time I spent looking at my reflection, the more flaws with my body I found.
My hooded eyelids, anemic wrists and strange points on my shoulders. I’ve noticed all these things before, but they never caused me such intense distress like they do now.
Social media is important for connecting with friends while sheltering in place but a lot of social media includes images that make me feel inadequate about my body.
Between the mirror and social media, my insecurities kept growing.
The stress caused by living through a pandemic has been called a “perfect storm” for body image preoccupation by Mayo Clinic psychologist Leslie Sim.
There’s a lot of extra time to notice and fixate on things like never before and there’s an increasing desire to find something to control in a situation that feels out of control.
Like the texture of your skin or shape of your body.
I’ve always had underlying insecurities about my appearance but I felt stupid acknowledging those emotions because there was always something more important to think about.
After a couple of weeks of struggling with this myself, I noticed that my 13-year-old sister was also looking at herself in the mirror, analyzing the imperfections of her skin, too.
She started trying a lot of ‘do-it-yourself’ skin remedies that I wasn’t sure were safe like scrubbing toothpaste and baking soda on her face.
Seeing her go through gave me more anxiety than my own obsession with my body image.
I felt like I was setting a bad example for her.
I realized that a lack of routine was contributing to our stress so I decided to try and make us a routine with small things to look forward to every day.
I try to make blueberry pancakes or french toast for breakfast to give us a reason to wake up more than 5 minutes before class starts. We recently found our old Wii console so we play Super Mario Brothers after our Zoom meetings and do homework later in the day when it gets cooler at home.
These small things that we do to spend time together make us feel better about the situation we’re in and keep our minds focused on something other than our skin blemishes.
We continue to struggle but by facing this together we can build each other up instead of sinking into our anxiety alone.