A few days ago, I saw a post on Everyday Feminism, which is normally good for excellent discussion of important issues, about “aging gracefully.” The central point of the piece, about the intersection of beauty standards, sexism, and ageism, was a valid one. However, the phrasing that essentially mocked the idea of a skin care routine completely ignored the fact that there’s more to taking care of one’s body than simply looking pretty.
I have suffered from depression and anxiety most of my life. It’s common for people with ADHD, with some studies finding that 70% of people with an ADHD diagnosis also showed symptoms of at least one comorbid condition, with depression and anxiety being the two most common. I also have complex PTSD and am in recovery from an eating disorder. Suffice to say that I am not my own biggest fan at times, and that it can get really dark in my head. When the battle inside my head meets the chronic physical pain, it’s easy to completely stop taking care of myself. There have been times when I’ve gone days without washing my face or brushing my teeth, because I just couldn’t summon the energy to care.
When I spend half an hour or more on my skin every day, or when I spend the time getting acrylic nails put on, it isn’t just because I’m slavishly adhering to some meticulous beauty standard that I have to follow to the letter. It’s an act of defiance against that voice in the back of my mind saying that I’m broken and worthless and not worth caring for. It’s a bold thing, in a world where beauty is so narrowly defined, to care for a fat, chronically ill, disabled body, and it’s a conscious choice to defy my own feelings of unworthiness. (My furkids will also tell you that Mama gives better scritches when she has claws, but that’s another story.)
In this world, we hear every day that our bodies are flawed and broken and ugly, and that it reflects on our value as human beings. We are told that any time we fail to sell or give away to others is wasted. All those things are lies. The beauty of humanity is in our infinite variety, and the things that make us unique are worth celebrating. And whether your moment to unwind and feed your spirit is your morning coffee or an afternoon nap or a deep moisture mask in the evening before bed, we all deserve to save some of our time for ourselves. The idea of self-care isn’t about selfishness or about devotion to some standard of who and what you should be. It’s about remembering that you have value, and that your time belongs to you.