The Worst Part Of Going On A Date In Front Of The Entire Internet

by Lydia Mansel
The Skin Deep

In some ways, I knew what to expect when I agreed to participate in a blind date on The Skin Deep's video series {The And}.

The purpose of {THE AND} is to create a "global relationship genome project," what The Skin Deep calls "a catalogue of all kinds of relationships, across many different cultures and languages from around the world."

Since I eat, sleep and breathe the internet, these powerful, raw videos have become something of a staple among my recently viewed and recommended watches on YouTube.

When it came time to become an active participant instead of a bystander, I knew I would be paired with a stranger, someone relatively close to my age, but also someone with a different experience, lifestyle and view of the world.

I knew there would be certain questions I wouldn't want my parents to hear me answer and questions with answers I didn't even know myself.

The idea of asking and answering extremely personal, blunt questions with someone you don't know seems like it would be an emotionally tough task, but I never blinked.

Life online is transient; something is posted, then something else takes it place. Even if I said something mortifying or shared a little too much, someone else would eventually do the same thing and my moment would only be a post on my timeline, buried under a continuous feed of content.

Still, being the over-thinker and control freak I am, I tried to prepare myself for the experience as much as I possibly could.

I was on vacation the week before, so I made sure my face was constantly slathered in SPF 50. I already have a reddish glow; I didn't need any extra help from the sun in that department.

I got a blowout to tame my natural, unwieldy curls. I brought makeup with me (to avoid sweating it off on the L train to Brooklyn, but then I forgot to put any of it on). I shaved my legs, just in case a weird camera angle zoomed in on the lower half of my body.

I knew wearing white would make me look extra tan on camera.

I had answers ready for the uncomfortable questions, the personal questions. I ran through what I'd say if he asked about my sex life. I knew the things I'd never subject my parents to hearing.

Like I said, I overthink everything.

When I finally took my seat at the studio, sweating uncontrollably (it was 90 degrees outside and the AC had to be turned off due to sound), everything around me, every other thought whizzing through my brain stopped.

I was fully present there, in the moment.

I could make out one word from the back of one of the cards we were going to read before my eyes were covered with a scarf: sex.


My date, Dan, entered the room. I could hear a deep voice and slight shuffling.

We began.

Thirty seconds of just staring at each other, which is more uncomfortable than I could ever have imagined, followed by an hour and a half of intimate interrogation.

And then we were done. My voice was hoarse, and I had never felt so emotionally drained. I felt slightly off-kilter. I hugged Dan, and we wished each other luck. My body felt shaky. I needed food. I needed to sleep.

After stopping for ice cream and Chipotle -- in that order -- I passed out.

By the time the next day came, the entire experience was pushed to the back of my mind. Work consumed my life. Worrying about and repeatedly reliving what I said on camera would be pointless. I had prepared for everything and felt confident about the majority of my answers -- I assumed the worst was over.

I was wrong. There was one thing I wasn't ready for.

I had not mentally prepared myself for the impact the video might have on my self-esteem.

A few weeks ago, I was sent the final product. I opened up the link and immediately felt sick. I could hardly watch it. I cringed every time I watched myself open my mouth. I shut my eyes whenever that girl on screen made an unattractive expression.

My smile was crooked. My hair looked greasy. My voice. The number of times I said the word "like." I looked fat. I looked tired.

My friends told me I was crazy. They said I looked beautiful, that if there was a winner on a date, it was me. I wished I could believe them.

The next couple of days were rough. I hadn't felt that negative about myself in a long, long time. In fact, after graduating from college, every aspect I hated about myself diminished, if only slightly.

That week, I regressed. I became the version of myself I never liked. The things I was proud of no longer made me happy. The hours I spent at the gym felt pointless.

Before the video, I felt strong and healthy. But this footage became a reminder of the junk food I consumed on vacation, the Ben & Jerry's I occasionally treat myself to on nights I spend at home. It made me self-conscious of the way I smiled and the way I spoke.

It also didn't help that around the same time, the person I was starting to like told me he had no interest in seeing me again.

My ego rapidly deflated.

I allowed myself to wallow. But after too many days feeling like complete shit, I knew I had to pull myself out of it. I needed to get back in the mindset that allowed me to be happy and pay attention to my health, both mental and physical.

I did the things that make me happy. I read. I swam. I shopped. I hung out with friends. I FaceTimed my parents.

The Skin Deep experience is supposed to be about intimacy and the way we connect with others. It's a test of maturity and relationships.

Sure, connecting with Dan on that level was definitely a unique experience, something I would never have done if not placed in that situation.

But the true test for me was dealing with my own insecurities and invoking a type of emotional strength I had yet to tap into. I had to ignore the negativity that flooded my mind.

I had to remind myself I'm not this unattractive, embarrassing, repulsive person I had somehow seen in that video. That girl who put herself out there like that didn't deserve that. I didn't deserve that.

I ended up watching the video again last night.

Yes, I do say "like" a bit too much. Yes, I should've probably put on a bit of makeup. No, it is not as bad as I originally thought.

I can sometimes be a little dramatic.