This is not an easy topic for me to discuss but I am at a point in my life where I have overcome the psychological scars of growing up with acne. The most frustrating thing about the disease, is that people who haven’t experienced it pass it off as a “phase” or give uneducated advice on how you can fix it. Drink more water, eat more fruit and vegetable, don’t wear make up, wash your face, use Clearasil. Believe me when I say, its not that simple.
Imagine waking up each morning and hating the skin you are in.
My struggles with acne began when I was 8 years old. Not many 8 year old’s had acne. So when it started, the kids at school had no idea what the red spots on my face were. Instead they teased. I still remember the names of the boys and exactly what they said. When ever I would look in the mirror their words would echo in my head and it followed me throughout high school. By the time I got to high school the teasing stopped but I was always hyper-aware of where peoples eye line would go if they were talking to me. The moment someones eye contact would drift to another part of my face (where I knew a big red pimple was) I would absolutely die inside.
I had these delusions that everyone was looking at me and all I wanted was to be invisible. I started using make up to cover up my skin. Attempted eye shadow looks as a way of drawing people to my eyes instead of my skin. For years, I felt like I was wearing a mask. I uses to spend all my pocket money on acne products and make up. Believe me, I TRIED EVERYTHING! I would slather my face with pimple cream every night as if I had chicken pox. Wash my face three times a day (which is bad btw because it changes your skins PH levels) even use salt water to dry them out. Nothing worked.
By the time I was 14/15 my self-esteem was so low. The only time that I felt confident was when I was on a stage in Drama class. I guess that’s one of the reasons I am so passionate about Drama. I could be anyone I wanted.
I hated mirrors, yet was so addicted to them. I developed a lot of behaviors to manage people not seeing the acne. When the bell would go for lunch, I would run to a bathroom stall and pull out a pocket mirror to check that the concealer hadn’t shifted off any pimples I had concealed. When ever we had swimming in P.E I would beg my dad to write me a note to say I was on my period or that I had an ear infection just so my make up wouldn’t wash off. If you’ve seen my Instagram you know that I actually enjoy swimming so I deprived myself just so people couldn’t see the “real” me. If my skin was really bad, I would pretend I was sick and wouldn’t go to school. One time, I started dating someone and that weekend a giant pimple grew on my forehead. I was so distraught that my crush would see me at school on Monday and decide he didn’t like me anymore. So I got my fringe cut to cover it up.
People would reassure me that my skin looked fine and that no one cares. But I was fixated and obsessed. If we would go on camps, I would get up at 5 am just for my skincare routine and to put my make up on before anyone else woke up. No one knew what I was going through because I hid it so well. Even from my family. One evening, I had an early shower and was called for dinner. My dad was so shocked at how bad my skin was. Finally, he took me to the doctors to get some medication.
Its funny thinking back to it now because people would see me perform on stage and would ask me “how are you so confident?” and the truth was that it was all fake. Performing changed me in an instant. Not having to play myself and hide behind a character was an escape.
My skin started clearing up when I was 17. I still remember how happy and free I felt when I walked into school with not a single pimple on my face. I had wanted to feel that way for so long and when I got that moment it was so euphoric. Slowly, my self-confidence started growing. I remember seeing some of the boys that uses to tease me in primary school with acne all over their faces. A part of me felt like Karma had found them and another part of me felt sympathetic. I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone.
Today, I wear less make up and sometimes nothing at all. I am confident and comfortable in my own skin. I am glad that I had acne. It shaped me. I don’t think I would be as in touch with my humanity if I hadn’t gone on that journey. For anyone that is reading this that experienced the same, I feel you. For anyone that is experiencing this right now, just remember to love yourself and that you’ll get through this.
A good way of dealing with it is talking to people that share the same insecurities and who support and uplift you. I had a few friends in high school that I would confine in that understood how I felt because they were in the same shoes. I kept journals to explore and express how I was feeling and embraced a love for theater as an escape.
At the end of the day, no one actually cared. It was all in my head. Don’t let it own you like it did me. Take control of your confidence and love the skin your in.
Here is a little bit of inspiration from Adam Roa:
Would love to hear you stories! Comment below to share them 🙂