I’ve become obsessed with flaws. You may have noticed since I ended my last post encouraging everyone to learn to love their flaws. We all try to hide them, and I want to expose them. No one is perfect. No matter how many Instagram highlights someone puts up, he or she is still flawed, but everyone is afraid to be themselves and show those flaws. We hide behind them with the different masks we wear. Instead of hiding behind mine, I’m going to lead with them as I work to be a better me.
I started this process of “leading with my flaws” on Monday, December 1. I decided to do a photo shoot with my good friend Nickolas Vaughan while I was dealing was a bad eczema flare up. As I stated in my previous post, I had been dealing with breakouts since the summer, and it was really taking a toll on me. I let it hinder me from going to rehearsals, work, auditions and sometimes even leaving the house, because I was so self-conscious. However, in November and December I was performing in A Christmas Carole, so I was in front of packed audiences 6 days a week. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I knew I couldn’t let eczema control me anymore, so I decided to do this photo shoot with no makeup on while my skin was still inflamed.
I knew ahead of time that the goal was to expose my flaws to take the power away from them. However, when the shoot started I didn’t know what I was going for. I wanted it stripped down and bare, but I didn’t know if I should smile, look serious, look peaceful or distraught. I kept making jokes with Nick, because I was so nervous (I tend to use comedy as a defense mechanism). It was hard for me to hold a pose or to even take myself seriously. I was uncomfortable and vulnerable. I was bare. I couldn’t hide, and I didn’t know what to do.
About a quarter of the way through the shoot Nick started telling me to evoke different emotions like sadness and anger. This sparked something in me and made me realize that I needed to express how eczema made me feel. I needed to show that I could be happy even though I was struggling. I needed to show that it makes me feel insecure and want to hide. I needed to show that it makes me angry and sad and frustrated and confused and concerned and annoyed and so much more! Once I understood that, I let go of the defense mechanisms. It was cathartic to let all of those emotions out, and I finally felt comfortable just being me. Eczema had less power over me. I was still my goofy self, but the jokes weren’t to avoid being seen.
What did I learn? Don't HIDE your flaws. Don't hide FROM your flaws. Run to them and EXPOSE them. And if you want to make a change, take action. Truly loving yourself isn't only about acknowledging all of your great accomplishments and qualities. It's about knowing your flaws and mistakes and loving each and every last one of them, because they are a part of your unique makeup. Without your flaws and mistakes you wouldn't be the person you are today. And once you learn to embrace them, your flaws can become your greatest success story. Once you expose them they no longer have power over you, and you're no longer dealing with them on your own. And don't be afraid to ask for help! God didn't create us to walk this journey alone. We need fellowship. We need to encourage each other and lift each other up; not condemn others because they are different from us. We are all dealing with something and God desires us to practice his message of love in order to help each other. God is love.
It terrifies me to post these pictures even though the breakouts actually got so much worse after this shoot. I look at these and think I didn’t even know the HALF of what I was about to go through. But even so, this gives you an idea of what’s been happening with my skin. This is me, completely and totally unfiltered in the beginning stages of one of the most trying times of my life. I didn’t feel pretty. I didn’t feel like myself. I didn’t feel like being in front of the camera. But there I was, EXPOSED (that’s gotta be like the take home vocab word of this post) with nothing to hide behind with one of my biggest flaws at the forefront: the damage I had done to my body years ago physically manifesting itself for all to see. And now I’m sharing it here with you. I hope this encourages someone else to stop hiding today. I’ve been hiding for so long trying to be who I thought I was supposed to be. Take it from someone who knows. It ain’t worth it girl (or boy)! Just be yourself. Be sure to check out more pics from the shoot below. Much love and until next time!
I'm Lauren, aka Just Du Pree, and I want to thank you for reading. This is a space where I share my very personal journey healing from eczema and topical steroid withdrawal (among other things), life lessons I've learned along the way, and occasionally the thoughts of an awkward Black girl (no Issa Rae). I'm a performer and filmmaker, so if you feel so inclined, pop over here to see what goes on in my mind on the regular. If you like what you see, you can stay up to date with my work here. Much love, friends!