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  • Writer's pictureLaura Kustaborder

Face Control

From 2005-2008 I lived in Moscow, Russia. I was a US diplomat and worked at the Embassy as a physician assistant. To say that life in Russia was fascinating, challenging and full of surprises is quite the understatement.

Recently I was reminded of “feis kontrol” (face control).

Intimidating Russian male bouncers guarded the club entrances in Moscow. Sure, they were there to ward off trouble but their main role was “feis control”. They decided whether you were permitted inside their establishment and it was all based on their assessment of your face. Your look determined whether you were allowed to pass the threshold and enter the club or whether you were turned away.

In a flash, a stern glance from the cross-armed bouncer would give you a brusque wave of permission or a gruff “nyet” of refusal There was no negotiation. You were either a face deemed worthy or you were not.

For someone who has struggled with esteem, confidence and body image issues her entire life, this was always an anxiety provoking moment and something I took personally. Was I pretty enough? Did I have a nice body? Were my clothes stylish?

I had already spent enough time judging myself and feeling ashamed of my body. Now I was surrounded by gorgeous Russian women while a grouchy stranger said out loud with a single word, “Hey Laura, you’re not enough. Go home now.”

How often are people judged by their face and their appearance? Assessments are made in a flash based on how someone is dressed, what they look like and how their body is shaped. Judgments set in and stories are created, often unconsciously. Thankfully we (typically) aren’t denied entrance based on these shallow criteria, but the rejection is no less valid or hurtful.

We even do this to ourselves. We look into the mirror and judge our wrinkles, our hair and the clothes on our bodies. We make ourselves small and less important. We tell ourselves we aren’t good enough, smart enough or pretty enough.

You know what? It’s all garbage.

We are perfect exactly as we are.

It's time to look at ourselves and others with love and admiration. Be grateful and appreciative.

Tell that internal bouncer “nyet” and show your face to the world proudly.

You are enough.

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