Today I want to talk about Image. And specifically the challenges I have had to deal with when it comes to acne/bad skin and my teeth.
Image is considered extremely important if you are a woman – especially if you are a female artist. TBH, I think the professional image I sport totally rocks. It’s honest and it comes from me. I design my own outfits and I come across the way I want to come across. I’ve never done a shoot where I felt uncomfortable or felt out of my zone. I like to feel empowered, I like to kick ass, I like to look and feel badass when I am “The Commander-In-Chief” – all the time. Well, before a live performance, TV interview or other important things I am usually so focused and “in the zone” when it comes to the music that I truly do not care how I look like. Do not get me wrong. Afterwards I am completely focused on how I looked like, but if it was not for my manager, I would probably be too distracted to have my hair or make up done before I perform. Luckily she usually does it for me.
If any of you guys met me behind the scenes though, there is a big probability that you wouldn’t recognise me at all.
You see, I usually wear little to no makeup, I keep my hair up most of the time and sport an androgynous style. My official image looks way cooler, I’ll admit, but it also takes way more time. Way more time if I’m gonna cover up the scaring and 3D of acne.
I have to admit that in my everyday life I don’t really care how I look like, for me the thing that matters is that I’m comfortable so I can just focus on what I need to do.
And that’s me in a nut shell, practical.
But the world doesn’t approve of practical.
As a chick you should have your hair down, as this is more appealing. It’s more sexy apparently. So, I have my hair down. (It’s also very important to have your hair down to cover up the acne if you have any).
You should smile in your pictures, as this again, makes you more appealing. Looking angry or stern is not hot ( I’ve been told off about this so many times).
And ultimately you should wear as much make up as you possibly can, to again look as appealing as possible. To cover up whatever needs to be concealed.
( I fail at all of this, really, unless I have input and help from others) And don’t get me wrong I LOVE to get my make up and hair done, by others. My mother is the one who does my makeup normally. In this picture it is a professional make up lady for a big TV station doing my make up before I was a guest on a TV Talk show.
Let me get into some specifics here now. I’ve gotten some excellent comments regarding my teeth over the years, online. Which makes me wonder: Why do male admirers believe that a girl will actually listen to their insults or remarks about what she should improve about her looks? When someone writes on my YouTube channel “has she been eating rocks?” it makes me wanna counter attack and ask: Ahhh…are you gonna lose weight Mister? Have you seen yourself in the mirror lately Dude? What makes you think any opinion from you is worth shit Señor? Why should I care about what you are saying, you look awful!
Mark my words though, the guys that are the loudest when it comes to how chick looks like, usually look terrible themselves. Makes me think of something my mother told me ” cheaters are always possessive and envious, because they cheat so much themselves, they overreact in a paranoid way when it comes to their partner”.
I’m a person who confronts people, in the real world this is easy but online..hmm… In the name of diplomacy and online etiquette you have to be clever about these things. Still, I ask myself..why would any guy come with a nasty comment about my teeth or my looks? What is he hoping to achieve? That I’m gonna be sad? That I’m gonna say : ok…I’ll go and sort it out now. I mean…what? I don’t think so Mister Anonymous. Have you looked at yourself lately? If you are going to criticise a chicks appearance and be a bully, then you better look perfect and stunning yourself. (But even if you do…bullying is never cool).
I’ve gone to many dentists to talk about adjusting my “Picasso” smile, but not out of vanity. You see, if your teeth are tight together they can cause problems. And mine has, many times. This is very annoying since it can get in the way of my singing. Which it has done. I struggled with recurring throat problems back in 2010 and 2011 and nobody understood why, until a dentist found the root of the problem – literally. Ironically enough, if the dentist was to sort out my problem, they would have to pull some teeth that are located right on the nerve. As any dentist would know this can be risky. It can affect your speech permanently, which is not cool. Is looking perfect, just because society wants it, worth it?
I don’t think so, really.
This brings me back to the next issue: terrible skin.
Life works in funny ways. It really does. If you condemn someone for doing something silly, how often don’t you find yourself doing the same thing later on? If you truly dislike something, isn’t it ironic if you all of a sudden find yourself liking that very same thing? And ultimately, if there is something you find to be disgusting, how terrible wouldn’t it be if it should happen to you.
There was nothing I thought of as more repelling than Acne or Eczema skin. The more you try to cover it up, the more it shows in many ways, due to the 3D. It’s even worse trying to get rid of it. Something I came to experience to my great horror, after I moved to the UK in late 2008. (UK water is notoriously bad, get a water softener if you move here).
I had never had any skin problems before that, and it came as a big shock to me, when it just got worse and worse. I think I tried every product I could come across, nothing worked. I would try all of them at once, just empty bottle after bottle.
On my first professional photoshoot, it was emphasised that the spots had to be photoshopped as it was undesirable to look that way ( I couldn’t agree more) and every photo we put out on Social Media for years were carefully chosen.
In late 2011, I even went for some chemical peels, something I would recommend. But the thing to keep in mind with chemical peels though is that it renders you dependent on certain products so that your skin doesn’t start to peel in big chunks on its own, making you look like some sort of horror movie. This happened to me when I was in a recording studio. It was impossible to cover it up. I looked totally disgusting.
ALSO an important thing to keep in mind. I was very keen on trying the “Dermaroller” but apparently, if you use this it can make it impossible to do things with your skin at a later stage. Your skin also has to be free from infections before you try it. ALWAYS think twice about everything you do when it comes to cosmetics! You don’t want to do something you’ll later regret!
I tried some interesting products over in South London that made my face totally red. I looked hilarious. I tried “old-fashioned-tricks” that made my skin feel un-flexible ( Like putting egg on your skin, try it, it’s awful). I tried some other food products that I’m not gonna mention, but lets say that…there is a reason so much effort gets invested into the “skin industry’.
I got prescription drugs from NHS. ( In order to live up to the perfect image), but quit when I saw the side effects you could get.
I eventually stumbled over something called “Dermalogica” and an amazing polish Beauty Therapist over in Reading. She was the first person to be able to turn things around for me, but still Acne is a bit of a mystery, you get better, then you get worse, it goes up and down. Still, what she did yielded results and I can absolutely say, that their products work.
Still though, I have to say that I think it’s silly that appearance is so important. Not just when it comes to female artists, but in general. Is it really that important? Is it worth all the stress, costs and worries about looking perfect?
I appreciate my mothers feminine touch and eye for details. In retrospect I always thank her for her input. But unless I have someone helping me out with these things….I’ll look different than the official image.
So, that’s it. From now on I will look more natural and real than I have previously done. I will continue to have the same image, since that is the image I have always wanted to have, as an artist. But I don’t care too much anymore about my Acne problem. There isn’t anything I can do about it. Sadly. I wish I looked the way I do at my photo shoots when I wake up in the morning, but I don’t. I guess most chicks would spend an hour or two in the bathroom to keep up the appearances, but I’m not one of them. I spend 6-8 hours a day playing guitar. I have daily singing lessons and I work out every day. If I am going to have any life outside of music, I am not going to spend time worrying about my looks any more.
I’ll just be myself from now on, which means smaller tits, uglier skin, teeth in all directions. Take it or leave it.