This is what I look like right now. This is my fifth bout with skin cancer, and the fourth (and by far the worse) permanent scar on my face.
I don’t go in the sun. I wear sunscreen every day (have for as long as I can remember) so how did I get this way?
This is a result of the horrible sunburns I subjected myself to as a teenager- all so I could look like someone else. Back in the late seventies, when we fair-skinned girls were supposed to be bronzed like Farrah Fawcett, I hated my body, I hated my skin. Kids used to tease me and call me Casper the ghost. That together with the fact that I was trying to be anyone but myself back then (if you’ve read my essay in Dancing at the ShameProm, you know what I mean) was a toxic combination.
|The girl who didn't want to be herself.|
So I baked in the sun until my face blistered. And it was awful and painful and foolish, but still I did it again. And again. Anything to not look like me.
And here I am at 48.
When I think back on all the stupid things I did as a teenager…hitchhiking, drugs, hanging out in liquor store alleys asking adults to buy us booze, running away from home and sleeping in the park….Who would have thought that the most dangerous thing I ever did, the thing that caused me the most harm, on so many levels, was wanting to be someone else.
Now I have a permanent scar in the middle of my face to remind myself of the ways I didn’t take care of myself, the ways I didn’t honor myself, the ways I didn’t realize I was fine just the way God made me.
Take it from me- don’t long to be anything but you. Look like you. Embrace you. Live as you. Be grateful for you.
And you won’t end up looking like me.
Please feel free to use me as a cautionary tale for your kids who won’t wear sunscreen, and to your teens or friends who bake in tanning booths.