I've been thinking a lot about authenticity lately, and for a number of reasons. Socially conservative politicians who defy the very heteronormative family framework that they so enjoy shoving down everyone else's throats make me think about authenticity. Watching a beautiful teenager, who grew into a man who could not stand his appearance or feel acceptable for even one day in his life, sing about not having to change at all makes me think about authenticity. And feminists who routinely fail to be inclusive make me think about authenticity.
But lately, it's my skin that really has me thinking about authenticity. I have very sensitive skin. People who don't know my skin and the shenanigans it can pull admire it. They think I'm lucky to have such a clear complexion and such delicate, young-looking skin. That's because they don't know how treacherous my skin can be. First of all, my skin is allergic to everything. Everything. Second, it doesn't make calluses. Think about that for a minute. The skin on my feet will blister and peel repeatedly rather than just making a callus already. The palms of my hands were reduced to a bloody pulp during three long seasons of crew rowing, and nary a callus in sight. And every few years my skin decides to follow up an allergy attack with a particularly bad case of eczema, which is practically incurable without resorting to the dangerous, toxic medical remedies available. So I've spent a lot of time resenting my skin.
But lately, in the middle of my current allergy/eczema attack in which the backs of my hands and my arms up to the elbow are covered in a fiery red rash with dry flaky patches and an incredible itch, I find myself gaining a new perspective on all of this. I think my skin is simply refusing to lie. There are things in my environment that are toxic, and my skin is not going to lie about it. Further, stress can cause eczema flare-ups and slow the healing process, and I'm under a lot of stress right now. So when you take the physical and social toxins in my environment into account, it would make less sense for my skin to be all healthy and clear right now. In fact, it would be a facade, a fake presentation, a lie. So as I continue to apply the natural remedies and gentle, toxin-free lotions and creams, and protect my skin from the mosquito repellant and chlorine that started this whole bout, I refuse to berate my skin the way I did when I was younger. It's authentic. It's telling the truth.