Bekki: Living with Acne. Living in the moment.

I started with my account in July 2020, but I wouldn’t say that it started with a skin-positive perspective. I started the account because I was starting with doxycycline and a topical treatment. I just wanted to post a weekly photo about how my acne has changed. Then I reckon after about a month I saw that I wasn’t the only one with acne, and by August, my content changed. My account changed into positivity, and eventually, I started opening up.  At the end of last year, I started talking about how mental health affects acne and how we not only suffer silently a lot with acne, but with things like grief, anxiety, and depression. We can be struggling with a lot of different things silently, but it’s so easy to feel like no one wants to hear about it. Then, you recede inside of yourself. And when no one says anything, you start to wonder if anyone understands or even cares?


Also, you don’t share your feelings because you worry that people would say it’s not that bad. For example, I follow people on Instagram, and they’ll have a patch of eczema on their leg, and they’ll explain to me how everyone says - “it’s only a patch on your leg, why do you feel so self-conscious about it?” And especially with acne, there are people with many different levels of severity so if you don’t have the worst case of it, people are just like – “what are you moaning for?” I think people automatically invalidate our emotions when we try to share our feelings about acne, and that’s when they go wrong. Even if you’ve got the  smallest patch or the smallest pimple, you’re allowed to be upset about it if that’s something you can’t control or if it changes how you feel about yourself. We should allow people to feel that way.


Bekki turns her head to the right, and is looking behind her as she smiles. This photo labels things on her face that are shunned by society like "pustules, chin hairs, and hyperpigmentation."


I even kind of fell into always being positive. At the beginning of my Instagram, I had people messaging me like - “you’re always so positive, do you not have days of struggle?” When in reality, during the time I first started my Instagram account, I was in one of the worst places mentally that I’ve ever been in. I didn’t leave the house or anything, but I was putting forward this really positive front on my Instagram.  So, I thought of being more honest with people, and that’s when I started sharing the stuff I actually go through personally. That’s when my account started getting more popular. People related more because acne is not happy all of the time - that’s just not the case.


For me, I’ve had acne for 6 or 7 years and when it began, I had just started university. And in 2020, I came off contraception, and my skin went mad. I didn’t react well to having it at first. I look back at pictures, and I remember how I used to wear so much makeup. I remember buying four different foundations and just putting all of them on my face on top of each other. My family didn’t even know I had acne until last year. People didn’t even know I had it because I hid it so well. While I was hiding my acne, I just remember hating myself and thinking that it was disgusting. It did take over my life on some occasions. I wouldn’t have dared to leave my house without makeup. When I even look back at last year, I remember crying like every day. I just remember thinking - “why is my partner with me? Why? I can’t go outside looking like this. Everyone is going to stare at me.” I know it sounds over the top, but I just thought that it was the worst thing in the world.


My partner and my friends were there for me, but I was pushing them away because I didn’t want to be dependent. They were always a source of support, but I really wanted to do it for myself. I felt the need to pull through on my own. To support myself emotionally and find independence, I used to write letters to myself as if I were the acne on my face speaking to me. That’s why my account used to be called - “yours sincerely, Acne.” Writing to myself as if I was acne used to be my psychological release because I used to write the letters to myself. But when I let my voice shine through and started writing to the readers, I changed the name to “your sincerely, Bekki.” 


One time, I wrote a letter about how I was wasting my time inside. I wrote about how I was missing opportunities with people over something that I could not control. And when I lost my Dad in January, I wrote a lot about this, and that was one of the most impactful things I’ve ever written.


Right after my Dad’s funeral, Channel 4 asked me to read a letter, and I read the one about not wasting your moments. I wanted to make my Dad proud, and I decided to tell my story. At that point, it wasn’t even about the acne. It was about accepting myself for everything that I was and wasn’t. I no longer let my acne narrate my story or mask my voice. I became my own author. When I put my story into the subjective - when I put myself into the driver’s seat, things started to flow out much easier.


Before when I used to write letters, I would speak as if I were my acne and say - “Dear Bekki, I know you don’t like me on your face, but I’m here. I’m sorry I’ve spread to your cheeks. I know that I’m really big on your nose right now, and I know how this makes you feel, but this is how your hormones are at the moment. I made letters with acne apologizing. And that’s what I was known for on Instagram, but I didn’t want to be known as that. I’m not my acne. I’m Bekki, and that’s when it changed to Yours sincerely, Bekki.


Bekki looks at us wondrously and she has adorned her faced with yellow, purple, and white flowers.

Now, I write about more about my entire myself, but before I used to solely write on how I felt so low. I used to write about going to bed and having pustules. I wrote on how they used to pop, and all of the residue would get everywhere. I was open and honest, but I wasn’t recognizing who I was apart from acne as well. However, I look back, and I’m so grateful that I wrote all of those letters because I can see my journey. I had to bring myself out. I had to recognize who I was, and I had to recognize how valuable life is. I’m focusing more on moments.


Like - I get married in 3 weeks, and I have big plans, but I’ve promised myself and my mental health that I will just focus on getting married and moving into my new house. I just want to focus on being present. And fingers crossed - I’m getting there.


I was on Channel 4 the other week and they asked me to write the letters. I used to write to myself just hang on in there. It’s going to be fine. You slowly see the change in the letters.  During weeks where I wasn’t feeling myself, my fiancee would be like do I need to intervene? And I’d be like, no, I’ve got this.  Obviously when I wasn’t feeling myself, I’d let him in, but I’d train myself to undestand when I could handle it on my own