by Matt Weik
How many of you one time or another have looked at someone you pass in the street or see on television or in a magazine and wished you looked like them? Maybe it was their musculature. Maybe it was their leanness. Whatever the reason, you harp on the fact that you don’t look like that or maybe you’ll never look like that no matter how much effort you put into it. You know what? It’s ok. We all have flaws—myself included. And I’ll touch on that in just a minute. But I read an article not too long ago that lit the lightbulb above my head that this topic might be worth touching on.
It’s the things you don’t see that make people self-conscious
As I mentioned, I read an article a little while ago that talked about a girl who just so happened to be a fitness model and blogger—a very attractive one at that. Looking at her pictures, you would imagine any guy would want to date her. But what many people didn’t know, was that this girl who regularly posted selfies, suffers from eczema. Not just the kind that many people see on arms and legs that can be covered up with articles of clothing—oh no—she would actually have it all over her face. Her face! That’s part of her money maker other than an amazing physique. Eczema for those who aren’t familiar with the condition, is a chronic skin condition that causes the skin to become red and itchy. There is no cure and it can affect anyone regardless of age. She posted on her Instagram account a before and after photo. One photo showcased her looking her best for the camera, and the other photo next to it showed the harsh reality of the condition she battles with. I’m not going to sugar-coat it, the condition looked pretty bad. I couldn’t imagine how uncomfortable that must be on your face.
Another fairly well-known fitness influencer who battles with their appearance is Christian Guzman. Christian openly spoke about his biggest insecurity—keratosis pilaris. Keratosis pilaris is a condition where an individual’s skin produces too much keratin (a protein), which ends up blocking hair follicles and gives the appearance of red bumps on the skin, almost like little pimples only they never go away. People can get this condition on their arms, face, butt, and legs. For most, they live with the condition every day and it goes unnoticed to them because they generally don’t hurt or itch. They do, however, give your skin an unusual appearance. Some might even think it looks and feels like red goosebumps. Some people are lucky enough to outgrow the condition while others may have it their entire life. Here comes the part where I come into the story.
I, myself, also suffer from keratosis pilaris. I’ve had it ever since I was little. Some people notice it, many don’t (or at least they don’t bring it to my attention). But, it’s something I have battled myself just about every day of my life. At the time of writing this article I’m 34 years old and the condition has shown no signs of easing up. While the condition isn’t contagious or anything, I’m very self-conscious of it. I’ve always been active, am very fit, and enjoy working out and showing off my hard-earned musculature. Yet, every time I put on a short sleeve shirt or tank top, I’m always reminded of the keratosis pilaris on my arms. Throwing on long sleeves hides it from sight, but that doesn’t take away the fact that I know it’s there. Again, we aren’t talking about a condition that anyone who walks by will freak out over. In fact, unless you are next to me, you can’t even tell I have it. The condition also seems to better or worsen depending on the weather and temperature. The condition is fairly common. Over three million people have the same condition I live with. We simply deal with it and move on. Our condition doesn’t change who we are or what we do. Yes, it might be in the back of our minds when meeting new people, but it’s just a part of life and we move on. You can’t let something like a condition of some sort control your life.
It got me thinking that we all have good days and bad days—for many reasons. Yet, we find a way to get through them. Some of us strive to be someone else because we aren’t happy with what we see in the mirror. Yet, we don’t know everyone’s story. You might be surprised at how many of the people who are idolized have their own insecurities that they battle every day. That’s life folks. Some of us just do a better job of hiding the things that make us uncomfortable. Be happy with who you are and what you’ve made of life. You get to write your own story. Not everyone has the ability to do that in this world. There are people with far worse problems than what was mentioned in this article. Go out and live life without fear. Be daring. Be spontaneous. Be fun.
We all can cover our insecurities with clothing or a Band-Aid. We take for granted the finer things we have in our lives and ourselves. For most of you reading this article, you have your health. You make your health and fitness a priority. You eat clean whole foods rather than poor unhealthy choices. We invest time in ourselves. We read books to better our knowledge and skillsets. Yet, we still come back to the reality that many of us are judged by our appearance.
It’s time to walk up to that mirror, look yourself in the eyes, and tell yourself that what you see does not define you. Your insecurities will no longer control you and pull you away from enjoying life and being happy. You will no longer focus on the things that you cannot control, rather you’ll put your energy towards the things you have the ability to control and change. Strip yourself from your insecurities, and make peace with them. It’s the only way you can live life without regret. The things that scare us and make us feel small, are the things we need to concur and move on from. When you no longer worry about being judged or looked at a certain way, is when you’ll stop looking in the mirror for answers and reminders. You won’t look at the skin condition, you won’t look at the scar, you won’t look at the bumps, bruises, or imperfections. Because at that point, you’ve made peace with who you are. And that’s the only thing that matters in the end.