Lujain Erras: Accepting Ourselves Apart from Society

I got into skin positivity 2 or 3 years ago. Before, I used to wear a lot of makeup to cover up. Unless I was wearing makeup, I never used to go out. I was nervous when my skin started breaking out. I thought it was from stress, and so I tried not to stress, but it didn’t go away. When my skin changed in the 8th grade, I totally thought it was because of something that I was doing wrong. At 13 years old, I became really aware of how I looked in front of people. 

This pressure increased even more when I moved abroad. I moved from the states in the 8th grade to Palestine for 10 years. My acne got worse over there, and that’s when I started picking my acne in an effort to make it go away. I still have scars from the skin picking that I did during that time. I’m very proud to be a Palestinian, and I cherish the 10 years I spent there. I learned a lot about who I am, but I also learned how beauty standards are everywhere. In Palestine, you have to have flawless skin. We live in villages outside of the city so everyone is conscious of how you look because you socialize a lot.

In Palestine, women are liked to be medium - not too fat or skinny, but in between. You can’t be too tall or short, and you have to have flawless skin. You have to have long hair. Light skin is also a beauty standard. Also, Palestine is more conservative, and it has strict gender roles. Sometimes the husbands have a lot of power over the lives of their wives, and marriage is a huge rite of passage for women. It’s a lot of pressure. Before they get married, Palestinian women have to be conscious about what they eat and how they look because there’s a pressure to maintain your appearance so you can get married. My family didn’t put too much pressure on me about my appearance, but my village did. 

I moved back to San Diego in 2018. Once I settled in, I still stayed home because of my skin. I had become an unsocial person. But truly, I wanted to go out and embrace life. In San Diego, I saw that beauty standards were a major part of the culture. However, you also had to have the proper resources to attain them. At first, that made me very nervous. Unlike Palestine, getting Botox, making sure your face is fully done, and having lip fillers were things that made a woman beautiful. I had to adapt to two different extremes of beauty,  but facing these extremes has taught me not to care so much. Adapting to different ideas of beauty is too stressful.  I’ve learned that self-acceptance means understanding who you are despite the environment that you’re in. 

I had to learn that the most important things are not my flaws. Everyone has flaws, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have goals in life. My skin doesn’t take away from who I am or from whom I aspire to be. To me, skin positivity isn’t just about being positive. It’s about realizing that skin is actually a very minor part of who we are.