I threw on a white shirtdress yesterday to take photos for this blog post. I wanted to write about the new self-tanner I’d added to my beauty arsenal and how to perfect that safer-at-home faux glow.
As I pressed the shutter remote, it wasn’t just my sun-kissed skin that felt artificial. I’d been repressing my emotions and couldn’t keep fighting them. A wave of grief hit me. Or a tsunami, rather.
I lost a family member to COVID-19 on Monday morning. Maybe I thought slathering on bronzing mousse would somehow mask the sadness. Or the right shade of lip balm would elicit a smile.
I’d scrubbed myself raw with exfoliating gloves before applying the “ultra dark” shade. It was supposed to help prevent patches of color from forming on dry areas (like knees or elbows).
I’ve been mistakenly presuming my body was ready for this grand metamorphosis. But it’s easier said than done to shed skin that’s been a comfortable home for so many years. I started repeating something a friend had texted me the day before: “It’s totally okay, if you’re not okay.” It’s totally okay, if you’re not okay.
And so, I cried. A long, ugly, messy, salty cry. Sure, there are brightening treatments to reduce puffiness under eyes afterward. Even with all the hydrating benefits, though–it won’t stop the tears from streaming. Sometimes, all you can do is let them flow.
The sun’s UV rays are harmful and cancer-causing. Self-tanning products can be a healthy alternative. A faux outer glow is great, but we shouldn’t have to feign an inner one.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. It’s a time to fight stigma and normalize not being okay. Even on our bad days, we are not alone. None of us have to fake it.