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'This ritual helped me when I was spiraling into depression'

"It helped me realize the connection my brain had to my body."

As children, it helps develop our taste. But as adults, changing an aspect of our physical selves often symbolizes something bigger about the women we are...and are on our way to becoming.

In our January/February 2018 issue, we asked six writers to explain how these moments transformed them in ways that go far beyond lipstick tubes and hair dyes. Here's one woman's story:

There was a period of my life when vanity kept me alive. I was spiraling from being gaslighted regarding assault in the first long-term relationship I'd ever had, and shriveling into depression that made me literally starve myself into stupor. I was forgetful of my body out of disappointment that I couldn't make it into the body of someone who would be better loved.

The only way I managed to crawl out of the fog was to pass the time in the beauty closet of the fashion magazine where I was interning, organizing all the products and trying out whatever I could carry home.

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I picked up the Boscia Sake Bright White Mask on a whim and instantly found comfort in how it seized up on my skin, hardened slightly into a glossy finish that made me feel as if I had a shell to protect myself, one that would make me feel better after I removed it.

Peeling it off was perversely freeing too: This was the only time that my neurosis for skin picking, called dermatillomania, worked in my favor, because the mask is meant to be peeled off, unlike any others I'd tried before. The ritual of peeling it off made me navigate my body in a way that felt like I was repairing myself. I'd sit and think about how bad I felt and peel that mask like it was a beauty exorcism. Every peel yanked the insecurity out of my pores, and by the end of my consistent use of the mask over a few months, I felt as if I'd escaped from the network of knots my relationship had trapped me in.

It wasn't that the mask was a miracle that solved my problems, but it helped me realize the connection my brain had to my body, how I need to take care of both instead of pretend I wasn't being hurt by my situation. Each time I used it was a reminder of my responsibility to myself.

Knowing that the mask had reparative properties for the skin that I could actually see reminded me that the body regenerates after trauma, if you give it time and help it along. Your cells have a turnover rate, remember—parts of you live and die and are reborn constantly. The mask made me feel like I could speed up the process and become someone capable of finding a way out of a bad situation. I eventually did. I still use the mask when I need to claw out of a shell.

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