I get a double chin when I smile. When I’m happy, when I’m genuinely happy, I smile, I laugh and my chin doubles.
I’ve always had a weak chin. I’ve tried to learn my angles, I’ve tried exercises that I found online that were supposed to help, I’ve daydreamed about how I would be prettier if I got some form of plastic surgery. Anything’s possible in this day and age, if you don’t like something about yourself - there’s always someone who can fix it.
I looked at pictures from my wedding, pictures with my husband, with my family, with my bridesmaids. The first thing I saw, that I continuously go back to, is how happy I look. I remember how blissfully happy I was on that day. Then I see my chin. I see the roll in my face where my chin and my neck blend because I was so genuinely happy.
So, instead of posting pictures with my double chin - the pictures where I’m happiest, where I’m most truly “me,” I posted more reserved images of myself. I posted myself looking blase. I posted myself looking to the side, my “good” side.” I posted pictures where I look attractive - and hope that nobody thinks I look different in person. I did the same things that we're all guilty of doing, because I wanted to look a certain way - I wanted to present a certain image.
I looked back at all these photos and I remained drawn to the ones that show true happiness. I beat myself up, over and over. Why couldn’t I have just lifted my chin slightly? Or have tilted my head? I couldn't post those pictures. People would analyze them. People would gossip, “look at her face - she’s gained weight." People would use those photos as a way to lay judgment upon me without ever having to meet me, or say anything to my face.
I tried to curate a persona for myself - a woman that was pretty, a woman with attractive features, a woman who would illicit compliments from other women. I wasn’t tech savvy enough for the multitude of apps that are out there that can “tune” your face, but I figured out how to pose and how to sharpen my angles. I hoped that people thought I looked the same when they met me as my photos did on the internet.
But I still went back to those happy photos. And I wished I could have changed that part of me.
A time came where I began to actively worry about my mental health. As someone with a history of mental illness in her family, I became increasingly paranoid that one day it would hit me. One day I would snap, I would lose it, everything would fall apart. “It happens, mental illness shows up in women around my age,” I told my husband.
I became anxious. I became depressed. I was waiting, just waiting, for something awful to hit me. It was bound to happen. Everything was seemingly in place, someone was bound to fall.
I became angry. I would spend nights screaming and crying. I would talk about how I wanted to leave everything behind and it scared me that I didn’t know if that meant moving or something more severe. I was so unhappy, and I didn’t know why. My emotions felt out of my control. It was terrifying and overwhelming.
I think about that low point; I think about how I could barely get through each day. I think about the days I spent in bed, crying because I couldn’t understand myself.
It got better. I got help, I regained control. There are some days, some weeks, that I falter but I make a conscious effort to take care of my body - physically, emotionally and mentally. I can feel my attitude, my emotions and my body - growing and developing into something healthier and happier.
These days, a double chin doesn’t seem that important.
A comment someone might make about my appearance doesn’t seem important.
A stranger’s opinion, a number of likes, an image of myself where I don’t look conventionally attractive - all these things don’t hold the same level of importance they once did.
I want to celebrate the moments I’m truly happy. I want to celebrate the people who make me laugh and the moments that make me smile. So yes, I have a double chin when I smile. Yes, I am self conscious about it. But to hide my happiness for one more moment just doesn’t seem worth it anymore.