When I was done obsessing over anonymous comedians and eyewear, I became an expert in skincare, overnight. I know the difference between pustules and acne. I know what Niacinamide, Ascorbic Acid, AHAs, BHAs and Ceramides do. I can tell you the names of proteins our hair is made of. The same girl who did not make friends with “those make-up putting” girls growing up. Because she was scolded, called disgusting for looking in a mirror. My mum was never allowed to wear lipstick with the exception of her wedding, till her daughters made her. Narcissistic, it makes one to the point of deserving shame, my Nani would tell you.
This girl now has long and short skin routines; a timetable for it. Initially, Mummy yelled at me for taking so long in front of the mirror. I got a chair so I’d be more comfortable. After a “you aren’t any prettier for all these extra hours and money spent” I wrote myself a note “Self-care is healthy. Not narcissistic” When I was told, “You’ll get used to so many creams and won’t be able to stop using it.” I wrote, “Let this be a tangible reminder to take care of yourself even when it seems selfish to people.”
My skin is not better or worse for it. It still has acne. That has never bothered me much. But now I consciously know that skins do that. And I know why they do it. This helps me take care of it better. Committing to this caregiving is a new experience, a fulfilling one.
It took half a lifetime to take an act of oppression and turn it into a rebellious act of self-care. For R to like swimming. For me to respect my body. Not fueled by vengeance. But by carefully pealing the oppressor off of our skins and pools.