When you look into the mirror, what do you find yourself criticizing most? Blemish prone skin? Pesky cellulite creeping down your legs? Stretch marks from the summer of ten too many boxes of Girls Scout cookies? I’ll tell you what I do not see: abs, clear skin and a cool birthmark. Some say it’s genetic, hormonal, a full moon, your zodiac, you name it. Others preach healthy eating habits complemented by physical activity. BUT, what if you’re born with a feature you feel is unflattering? Do you learn to live with it or do you seek a professional for advice? A birthmark for example; present at birth and growing in proportion to your body...yikes!
Allow me to introduce you to my body companion- Rascal. It was only this year that I learned Rascal is actually referred to as a Port-Wine Stain by dermatologists. Unfortunately “Port-Wine” has nothing to do with wine from any port or a stain that said Port-Wine could have caused. (I was disappointed too!) Instead, Port-Wine stains happen when a part of the skin lacks nerve fibers and those blood vessels expand, thus, creating a stain under the skin. So where exactly did my skin lack these naughty , nerve fibers? Dun, dun, dun...on my left glute! Rascal is circular in shape, with a dark brown pigment that takes up a generous couple of inches on my left butt cheek. One may think, “that’s not bad! Worry if it’s on your face!” Growing up in hot, Texas summers meant the majority of my time was spent running around in a bathing suit and kids asking what the spot on my bum is. Somehow, I survived that as well as teasing in junior high i.e. ran track instead of joining the swim team. In high school, things slightly changed. As I gained more confidence (short-lived!) I gained enough to attend a pool party. Soon after revealing my bikini bod, I was told my left butt cheek was “spot-on!” by classmates. Super clever, right? Not!
These experiences, among others (in college), have made me self-conscious, even hopeless at times. As time has passed, my confidence has grown stronger in many other areas, but despite no longer being teased, I remain self-conscious about Rascal. The real problem is how I feel in my own skin- literally. For years I have contemplated removing Rascal but am told it’s not a “big deal” (no pun intended) or why change myself just to look like everyone else. We can all agree that every morning we aim to look our best: for our profession, for the world, and more important, for ourselves. We wear suits, ties, and dresses, shave...the whole nine! Into that goes confidence and personal distinction. A component of physical health is mental hygiene. When you’re unhappy about how you look, it shows in what you do, or rather, what you don’t do. Physical health and mental wellness is about feeling good at all times, inside and outside. After all, it’s you standing before your mirror.
Recently, I accepted a position at JUVA Skin & Laser Center. Very quickly I discovered I am not the only person struggling with a cosmetic dislike. This has made me feel so human! How we see and feel about ourselves plays a role in how others perceive us. I see the way patients walk in, with the same look I do when wearing a bikini in public. I feel like shouting “I can relate!” but bending over and showing them how I can relate is not an option. In all, I have come to the conclusion that I should do what makes me happy. Sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Like trying to part ways with an ex but you don’t know where to begin in fear of what life may or may not bring thereafter. Fortunately, I am ready to part ways with Rascal. We’ve had a committed relationship for 30 years where we have cried, fought and said things we truly meant. In the end, there have been more bad times than good times. Oh Rascal, it’s not me…IT’S YOU! In the near future, the artistic hands of Dr. Katz will begin the separation of Rascal and me. Dr. Bruce Katz specializes in all things dermatology, including: body contouring, laser procedures that treat a variety of skin disorders, injectable treatments to improve facial volume loss or to soften fine lines and wrinkles, and surgeries such as Smart Lipo and ThermiTight.
Follow my journey on Twitter @JuvaSkin or tweet me at @oh_yuricles