By: Beatriz Pugliese
My body has always been in two colors, thousands of textures and shapes. I am used to this body, the one I will spend all my life in, the one that supports me. And for this body, I have created affection. This wasn’t easy or overnight. I have Nevus, a skin condition that occurs in a small percentage of the population. The cells responsible for pigmentation concentrate in a form that is not uniform in the skin and causes dark pigmentation in certain areas. In my case it affects more than 80% of my skin.
Growing up I didn’t know much about Nevus and neither did people around me. I got asked all kinds of questions: "Did your mother look at the full moon when she was pregnant"? Or "Are there ticks on your face?" Yes, you read that right, TICKS! I've heard a lot of nasty, bizarre and disrespectful things about my birthmarks. Unfortunately there are ignorant people out there who believe they own the truth. Just for future reference, you can ask me about my difference as long as you do it respectfully and with common sense. If a person does not know what Nevus is and they are curious, come and ask me. It is easy to figure out the person's intention when they are talking to me. If someone is just being nosy, which happens frequently, it bothers me a lot! We are not here to entertain anyone, we are here as human beings just like everyone else. But with all these years of experience, I feel strong and prepared to suppress this kind of cruel attitude.
When my mom and I found the Nevus group on Facebook we were so happy to find other people with whom we could share our experience. At the beginning we felt a lot of suffering because of the stories other people were posting. I have to confess that I came across a scenario that was very different from the one I lived in, and that made me extremely sad. Although I felt welcomed by people like me, I felt lost among so many of their stories. And for a moment, I decided to distance myself from the group. Afterwards, I decided to come back and got very excited with a lot of the content I was reading. Prejudice is still very strong in society, while on the internet we see messages of support, on the street the scenario changes a lot.
I choose to expose myself and I choose to be seen! And with that comes negative baggage of mean comments and judgments, but for me, the fight to break prejudice is more important than that.
Acceptance is a process. Since I was little, because of Nevus, I was instructed to moisturize my skin. So, every day, yes, EVERY DAY, I used moisturizer on my entire body. And certainly, this act even though it seemed so insignificant, made me know myself better. This became a ritual for me! I looked at myself in the mirror, felt my skin, saw my details, my peculiarities. Without realizing it, day by day it was creating a link between me and my body: a love relationship with myself. Of course, even today I still have some insecurities, I will not lie, but I learned to take it easy on myself, you know? To change myself as much as was necessary for me, not for others. Today I respect myself, accept myself, and allow myself.
Not only in Brazil, but in a lot of other countries, the definition of beauty became superficial, an illusion that you can only be happy when you exist inside the beauty standard. In the internet era that we are living in, content is thrown at us daily about it. Hair, body, clothes, style, everything is like a package to be seen. Here in Brazil, I see legions of young girls, who already have a list of surgical procedures. This scares me a little. I don't see any problem with doing cosmetic procedures, I know that it helps thousands of people feel better. However, I believe that cosmetic surgeries should be thoroughly considered. As long as the decision comes naturally, without social pressure, as something that YOU really want, then it is ok. For this self-knowledge and self-love are very important factors!
Self-love does not mean that you cannot change. To love yourself is to be careful, to care for your body, to know your qualities, to praise the beauty and health that you have. And knowing that the self-love journey is a process, a daily exercise. For those who say that loving yourself is impossible, that they don’t know where to start, I say: RELAX. Start with the small details, what do you like most about you? Nothing? I don’t believe you! You must have something, think carefully and try again! Love is a daily exercise, a construction. Showing yourself some love is a liberating choice, believe me!