A few months into our relationship, my high school boyfriend started calling me, “Mallorina, my Queena.” As a 16-year-old, I’m not sure there was a nickname more flattering than this one. Actually, 38-year-old Mallory really wouldn’t mind answering to it, either. It was young love, but I knew my boyfriend adored me and went out of his way to try and show me that.
Why, then, did I often feel so insecure and missed? I was, after all, his Queena!
About six months before turning 38, I started really focusing on taking care of my skin. I’m late to the game, I know. I remember my mom telling me to be more mindful of my skin, but these are hard things to hear when you’re a fresh-faced 16-year-old who is a handsome boy’s Queena. However, as I’ve looked at my face, a bit weathered from living life hard (and thinking I could outsmart sun damage and baggy eyes), I decided to take matters into my own hands and finally love on my skin. This should not be as revolutionary as it felt.
A few nights ago, my 3-year-old daughter walked into the bathroom as I was going through my new skin care routine. She asked what I was doing, and I simply told her I was taking care of my face. “Why?” she asked, curiously.
Sometimes her “whys” take my breath away. I hadn’t really considered it until that moment.
Suddenly I found myself blurting out, “Because I think I’m worth it!”
I didn’t expect eye cream to be the catalyst, but I think I clicked a bit more into Queen(a) status in that moment.
I’m sure my teenage boyfriend did all he could to make me feel like a queen, but it was never going to happen until I saw myself as worthy of such a title. There’s something so powerful about first being queen of my own life—taking initiative, naming what I need, and going after what I want. If I’m only queen to someone else and never for myself, it puts the onus on them for my happiness, self-care, and skincare routine.
Just as wrinkle cream is relatively new to my world, so is the concept of loving myself as a queen—not in a way that is demanding or elitist, but in a way that is soft and honoring to my personhood. Be it caring for my skin, making a decision for myself, or asking for something I need, I get to be the queen, or owner, of my own life only when I make it happen. Out of that—choosing to value and love myself in such a way—it invites others to love me in ways that help me feel safe and seen.
I can’t believe how difficult this can be, just as I can’t believe how suddenly and strongly the wrinkles develop. Here we go, Mallorina, my Queena; let’s love our whole self.
Mallory Redmond embraces anomalies—she is an adventure-loving homebody who keeps a clean house yet always makes a mess while eating or brushing her teeth. She loves dry humor, clean sheets, and gathering around the table with friends. Mallory and her husband, Darren, live in Ohio with their beagle, Roger, and their two daughters. You can follow her writing here, where her stories are told with the hope of further uncovering the places of connection in our humanity.