My relationship with my complexion has had a lot of ups and downs but I feel that now I am more accepting of my skin and what it can and cannot do for me. It is a struggle to have confidence and love oneself despite societal standards and dealing with acne has certainly been a challenge for me. I’ve had many setbacks, but I have also had many triumphs when it comes to embracing my skin and the person I am underneath.
In truth, acne has given me a real sense of bitterness.
I started developing acne when I was in elementary school (not severe acne, but a few bumps here and there) and looking back, it hurts me that it started that early. I felt alienated from all of the other children (emphasis on children- who has acne at 10 or 11?) and I felt that it gave me a lower starting point of self-esteem than many of my peers.
What could have triggered it so early?
My father, whose work hours made it possible for him to be home after school, was responsible for the food we ate and the drinks we drank, and my siblings and I ate a good amount of fast food. Could that be the culprit? I can’t blame my father for my complexion, but deep down I do wish he was more in tune with the fact that if you put good into your body, you get positive results.
I’ll never know for sure what began my acne’s early immersion, but as much as I try to let it go, there is a gnawing curiosity in my brain that can never be fully calmed.
In middle school, my bitterness only grew. As everyone was going through puberty, there were obvious flare-ups of acne amongst my friends and classmates. However, having already had acne, MY skin was already in worse shape. When puberty began for me, it was a nightmare. My skin had turned against me completely and my confidence was in the gutter.
I had started wearing makeup earlier than most people in order to combat my heinous appearance, but I was still a child. I had no idea what to do. I would come to school looking like an orange, but anything was better than the redness, and swollenness, and pain of my natural complexion.
People would tell me to just stop wearing makeup and let my skin relax, and it infuriated me.
My skin has never been relaxed. My acne began before I even understood makeup, and this was not a choice, but rather a lifeline for my sanity. I didn’t want to wake up earlier in the day to cake my face only to have it be shiny and patchy later in the day. I didn’t want to freak out whenever someone grabbed my face or my cheeks jokingly. I wanted skin untouched by chemicals and substances that would only age and irritate my already awful skin. However, I wasn’t able to calmly and securely leave my house are carefree as everyone else.
My face hurt. All the time. It hurt to touch, and it hurt to lie down on, and it hurt if the wind grazed it a bit too harshly. My face was always red, and significantly swollen. To tell a person that all they need to do is take away the only thing that gave them a small sense of security was the most ignorant and arrogant thing someone could say to me at the time.
It was infuriating.
In addition, whenever my friends would have a blackhead, or a small pimple, or “breakout” from their period, I would have to sit and listen to what an awful time it was for them. Not to be dismissive, because any kind of facial discrepancy is a tough thing to deal with, but having a beautiful girl with skin as clear as day tell me about the hardships of acne was something I could never cope with.
Their breakout was like dipping your toe in the pool. And what would it last, a week? You’ve got to be kidding. I developed serious self-esteem issues, as well as jealousy issues. I didn’t understand why anyone would talk to me, or find me attractive. Anyone that talked to me in a romantic way I was so sure would just leave if he ever saw me without my makeup. My insecurities barred me from experiencing so many things during high school, just because I couldn’t stand my own skin.
Now that I’m older, I’m much more accepting of myself and my qualities. I still have bad skin. I’ve accepted there is very little I can do. But I try to treat my skin as if there is not a single mark on it. My acne has its ups and downs, and I can’t get rid of the scars and marks previous breakouts have left behind, but I cherish my skin and treat it accordingly. Also, I try and remember my self-worth.
I am not my acne, nor am I less than because of it.
If someone is interested in me, romantic or otherwise, it is because of the goodness I have in me. It is because of my humor, my interests, my endearing traits, etc. and I have to trust that. Granted, these positive thoughts I know am able to think are not bulletproof, and I beat myself up about what I cannot change every now and again, but I am human. And humans have acne sometimes.