Revolutionary Self-care

There’s a woman in this world called Gala Darling, who exists solely to sell you her concept of glitter-sequin-fluff-woo. Crystals, affirmations and the like. While I could never be a follower of a leader such as she, her blog is where I first saw the words radical self-love.

It’s a vile, girls’ mag sort of phrase. But it’s one I’m borrowing from today because I’ve been thinking about the self-care I’ve been celebrating recently.

I went with my best friend to get a spray tan. I was terrified and pressed the big green button thinking I’d be played the how-to video – but no, that was the I’D LIKE TO START THE SPRAYING NOW PLEASE button. Anyway, it wasn’t such a disaster and I’ve actually returned by myself several times since.

Now, I am a person with the paleness of a blinking rock creature lured out into the light. I don’t tan. I am mortally afraid of burning, also, and don’t wish to accelerate the ageing process. Which adds up to a blue-ish tinge, year-round.

So, it’s quite amazing what not being blue does for me. In the summer, I favour outfits with as few items as legally possible, and having a tan makes me feel so much less vulnerable. I feel…clothed? It’s lovely to have a little extra boost of confidence – in my head, even my legs are longer. It doesn’t matter what I really look like; this orange hue has given me a little bit of freedom.

These boosts are particularly necessary to me right now. I’m so far out of my comfort zone, work-wise, that I might as well be attempting to impersonate the minister for trade policy. Even turning 29 last week was something I welcomed. Any semblance of authority I can get, please!

I’ve worn grown-up trousers to meetings recently. I’ve had regular hair trims for the last six months. I’ve embraced fake nails. Spray tanning? Perhaps it was inevitable. It’s not even pretty that I’m trying to achieve; it’s together. It’s polish. Something I never thought I’d be capable of but am at least making an attempt at. Maybe it’s about showing I care? I’m definitely not just putting on a disguise because if it were that, I’d buy a black pencil skirt and a white shirt – and they’re conspicuous in their absence.

Most of this sounds vapid but for a large portion of my 20s, I couldn’t get my hair cut. I avoided the doctor. Until two weeks ago, I’d stopped going to the dentist because the tellings-off and unexplained bills were too much for me. I was so anxious about life admin and interacting with strangers that I just didn’t do it.

Anxiety and depression often lead to a lack of self-care. To me, getting my teeth checked, having a hair trim or getting a spray tan involve a lot of mental preparation, even now. I feel so lucky that I CAN face it now but it’s not comfortable.

So, I give myself a pat on the back for being 29 and finally able to indulge in the self-care that a lot of people look down on women for. It’s a ridiculous, expensive spray tan to you – but it’s a brave and important step for me. Turns out, a tiny bit of focus on myself was what I needed to realise I’ve actually not been doing too well recently. I’ve booked an appointment with my doctor to talk about my medication and I’ve also put myself on the waiting list for more counselling. We’re never fixed; maintenance is required. Some of it is fun and silly, some of it is hard and uncomfortable.

Maybe doing the fun, silly stuff is helping me face the hard, uncomfortable parts of looking after myself. Spray tans = life.

Am I right? Tell me!

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