After puberty, my face didn't look like it used to. My previously clear, simple skin morphed into oily, problematic skin. Pimples would come left and right, popping up on my forehead, nose, chin and cheeks. No facial region was spared. For acne, every last part is fair game. The entire face is its oyster.
I struggled having my insecurities on display for the world to see; I couldn't conceal what was right in front of them. I did what I could. I washed my face daily, often more than once. I ate more fruits and vegetables. I slept well (as well as a middle or high school student could). I used creams and lotions and moisturizers with no harsh additives. I was even vegan for more than a year (though not for this reason).
And yet: nothing.
One or two pimples left, but the rest remained. All these tips and tricks felt useless. No matter what I did, I still had acne. No matter what I did, people assumed it was because of the junk food I ate or my lifestyle. Many wise sages suggested the oh-so-intelligent following: "Why don't you try washing your face?" I don't understand. Do people think I bathe in my own filth?
It took me years to understand that my face wasn't my fault. I didn't do this to myself. Acne is not the result of anything. It exists regardless of what I do.
But coming to terms with that was hardly the end.
I contemplated whether or not I should wear makeup. Cover it up, hide my imperfections and move on. Nobody would see anything anymore. If I wore makeup, nobody would comment on my face for that reason again. I could move forward. Acne wouldn't define me anymore. Right?
To cover my acne would be like covering a part of my story, a piece of my puzzle. I became proud of my "scars" and discoloration. I work hard on my face, washing it and caring for it and tending to it. It may not look like it, but my face is healthy and clean and happy now. And to cover up that effort, to cover up the hours I've spent over the years washing and laboring, seems disingenuous.
I know my face may not be what people consider beautiful. It has scars. It flakes from time to time. It's dark in some places and lighter in others. It has discoloration. It has pimples in different locations from week to week. It's flawed and imperfect and constantly morphing.
And you know something?
That's totally okay.
I can't be ashamed of all of that. It's my face. It's been with me my whole life. It's so intrinsic and essential to my being that hating it seems irrational.
I don't want to hide my face anymore. I don't want to try. It is what it is, and that's totally, completely okay.