Staying at home can be a hard task to do, including for a woman who becomes more self-conscious and fixated on all of her perfectly fine imperfection with every passing day.
Like most middle-class workers in Jakarta, I’ve been blessed with an opportunity to work from home during this crazy COVID-19 pandemic month. In the beginning, it felt really great! Not having to spend three hours of my precious time to commute, not having to dress up and put on makeup, having more time to exercise and read books. Those are precious things that I can’t afford to have in a normal situation.
But as time goes by, and I believe most of us kind of feel the same way, it started to get boring. I spend too much time on social media. As someone who is into Korean culture, I definitely watched Korean dramas more than I normally do (my normal dose is one episode of drama per day).
I started to notice things more than I usually do. This includes my physical appearance, which, in my very own definition, has become worse during the pandemic. I have never thought of myself as a pretty girl my whole life, but this time I feel the ugliest.
I live with a sensitive acne-prone skin throughout my puberty and to this day. My skin was definitely getting better in the past few months after hundreds of skincare products trials and errors. But, then, when I finally had more time to make more effort to maintain my skin, more of my bumpy friends decided to show up.
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I have a breakout, even when I barely wear makeup, do skincare diligently and thoroughly, and eat more healthily. I feel like my skin is betraying me. This somehow happens when I have more time to look into myself on this big-size mirror in my bedroom and notice how ugly I look with this bumpy skin. Sometimes I decided to play and put on makeup just to feel okay again. I took some selfies, cleaned my makeup, then I felt empty again.
My endless hate for my body doesn’t stop there. I did some exercise during my #StayAtHome weeks by watching videos on YouTube. A lot of people did, including my friends and influencers I follow on social media. I put on my tight legging, or sometimes my short pants, with my sports bras. This is less clothing that I would have in my normal workout class, when I’d put on a t-shirt or crop tee – and a hijab in an all-gender workout class. But no one’s looking right now, right?
Well, somebody is: the image in the devilish big mirror stares at me again after a nice workout session.
I saw how I looked with my tight and minimum cloth materials. I saw how my fat belly stuck out and the lack of gap between big my thighs. And I hear the comment “You look fatter” from my coworkers in the past few months. And I couldn’t help but hate myself more.
I’m trying to make some sense of how this happened. I’ve been learning about self-love, how unrealistic beauty standard is, so why am I back to this point of hating myself again?
I guess it’s the media pressure again.
Remember when I said I spent too much time on social media? I spend those times mostly looking into sports and beauty influencers’ profiles and thinking, how did she manage to have this body shape? How did she manage to have such clear skin? Why am I not looking like them even when I follow their skincare regimes, eat the food they recommend, and do exercises that they recommend? Oh, also watching more Korean dramas didn’t help. All the women look gorgeous with their skinny bodies and perfect skin.
I know that there are a lot of good beauty influencers who promote self-acceptance and fight against beauty standards too. Hell, a lot of them also share their stories of struggle with insecurities. But looking at how good they look during the exercise or how good they look with minimum makeup, then looking at myself, I still feel small and not good enough.
I guess my journey to loving myself is still a long way. Maybe I should reduce my time on social media and read more about self-love. I should also Zoom with my friends and let them compliment my pajamas and my new self-dye hair. I hope you can also do anything that you want (other than going out) to keep you sane during this crazy time.