This is going to be a straight up real talk. I’ve posted something similar on my old blog before, but I wanted to add on to it because I think it’s a topic we can endlessly talk about. Acne is a real confidence buster, trust me – I’ve been there and gone through the worst of it. It’s an unhealthy obsession even if it’s just a few spots or cystic acne because it’s personal. And especially if it plays with your self-esteem, the severity of acne doesn’t matter. It took me a long time to come to terms with writing this, and especially, the pictures. While now I can say that I am in a better position with my confidence and acne, it still was a period of time when I absolutely disliked how I looked. Maybe some of you will say it’s stupid and I shouldn’t even care or that people have it worse, but I think that’s somewhat irrelevant. It’s easier to say to someone else that it shouldn’t matter but the ultimate cause of self hate is what we think, and that is always personal. I don’t have very many photographs because I just didn’t like having pictures taken of myself. The only pictures I have are those when my skin was relatively OK compared to before.
My teen years were amazing. I had clear as sky smooth baby skin except for the occasional spot that would disappear in a few days. Big hoo-ha; I didn’t care. I was taking it all for granted and glowing in radiant skin. Little did I know, that was going to bite me in the back. Right after high school, my skin started to break out, and I was having a ridiculous hormonal imbalance. That’s when I was most conscious of my skin and I would do anything to make it go away. I wanted to backtrack to the period of my life when my skin was clear and I didn’t wear a speck of makeup. I tried every single over the counter topical creams, gels, scrubs and everything with a claim to reduce acne. I even consulted dermatologists. Nothing worked, and in fact, stressing so much about it made it even worse. I cried, and the first thing I would do every morning was rush toward the mirror to see if my acne had gone down. It was such a vicious cycle of self-hate and a confidence buster that I had a raging jealousy for all my friends who still had great skin. I hated photographs of myself and the idea of remembering what my face looked like. I know this sounds like some dark pathetic thoughts but when you’re seventeen and just about to step into college, you want to be cool, right? You want to be smart and pretty. I was just one half of that equation (totally modest plug there…). Then, fast forward a few months when I started college and I got into makeup.
Foundation was a godsend to me and I was over the moon that I had a way to block how ugly I felt. All the tears, heart-to-hearts seemed to ease away a little because I could cover it up. To quote something from my old blog: “No matter how much people said it was ‘normal’ to have acne, it’s always been such a social construct that acne was just a negative thing, no matter the severity (or lack) of it.” And boy, did it screw me over, but makeup helped. I got a bit of my confidence back, but it was also unhealthy. I wouldn’t leave my dorm room if I didn’t have foundation on. I couldn’t face my classes if I didn’t look halfway decent and that was having a full face of makeup. I wore makeup to my classes, to the gym, to friends’ houses just to hang out. It was tiring to constantly keep at it, but it helped.
About three years of dealing with acne, I realized this self-destructive way of going about it is just plain unhealthy. I needed to come to terms that this was just friggin’ normal. I was finding solutions to treat the symptoms but not the root cause – and that was my perception of it. I watched way more YouTube videos than I can count about acne and how people became comfortable with it.
Now, having sort of clear skin, I figured, so what? So, what if I have acne? Why am I letting this affect every single thing I do? Why am I suffering for a social judgment? This realization didn’t really hit me until I was at the peak of my acne because let’s face it – as shallow as it is, some of us do care about how people’s eyes roam your face when you have zits on every surface. It took me years but I realized that there’s a lot more in life to worry about than acne. College, my job, family are just a few more pressing matters, aren’t they? And I wouldn’t want to look back ten years from now and beat myself over how much I let it get to me when I turned a blind eye to all the good in life because I had acne.
^imagine all those acne marks as actual real zits…about 10-15 of them…
I still get acne to this date and quite a lot because I always need to be on the ball with work and that stress is plainly visible on my face. I’ve broken out across my t-zone and chin and I am genuinely happy to say I don’t cover them up anymore. I don’t incessantly check them or apply makeup over it because why bother? It’s not going to magically disappear. That’s just how I am reacting. When you stop comparing and expecting to be a certain way, you automatically lose the desire to ‘perfect’ but rather, just simply happy with yourself and nothing in the world can affect that. Acne is normal – it’s so normal that those who don’t break out just seem un-normal. You are your biggest critique but it doesn’t mean you leave room for anyone else to berate you for such a normal thing. Learn to love yourself, with all your imperfect perfections. I personally wouldn’t have the appreciation I do for myself had I not gone through my cycles of self-hate. Take a breather, it’s all OK; after all, we’re human not perfect robots.
(P.S. I got braces between these pictures above so that’s why my teeth are straighter and lost a little bit of a face chub).
All my love,