I am Camilla, I am 21 years old, and I am from Italy. I’ve had acne since I was 13 years old. Back then, I saw no one that showed their real skin. Everyone seemed to have perfect skin, and I felt like I was the only one who had acne. So, I decided that I wanted to be someone who showed their real skin on the internet. I didn’t want anyone to feel alone, and I wanted people with acne to see that skin problems are very normal.
I live in a small city where everyone knows each other, and sometimes it feels like you always have to be perfect. It feels like you always have to attain a standard, always wear makeup, and always wear nice clothes. You feel judged every day. For example, when I went to school, everyone judged me. I felt as if everyone’s eyes were on me. It wasn’t good. In Italy, we have a high beauty standard, but I think it’s improved a bit.
However, those standards were difficult to grow up with. When I was younger, I felt like everyone had perfect skin but me. I felt like I was the only girl that had this acne problem. One thing that I hated when I was younger was when this girl who had perfect skin would come up to me, and say, “Oh, I have a pimple too. I hate it!” Then, she would look at me and say, “Yes, but you are beautiful with pimples!” I used to hate that because how can you say you hate pimples, but then say, “The way you look is beautiful.” You have just said that pimples are not good-looking.
I tried to cover my acne, but I was not good with makeup, and I was bullied for wearing it. When I wore foundation, I felt like it made my pimples more obvious. The pimples would ripple and bulge through my makeup. I wondered, “Am I giving the impression that I cannot hide my flaws?”
So, I believed that perhaps I should try harder. And one day, when I was about 14 to 15, I put toothpaste and a skincare product on my pimple, and I burned my skin. At that point, I thought to myself, “I will never try products again because they don’t work with me.” I cried because I didn’t know what to do, and I thought that the scars would remain on my skin my whole life. I had lots of acne. So, I just wanted solutions. So, a friend told me, “Put toothpaste and acne skincare. It will work, and you won’t have pimples anymore.” So, I tried this cream, and then toothpaste, but it just burned my face.
After that, I did nothing for my skin. I didn’t even wash my face, and I didn’t go to the doctor anymore. I just used a cream. I said to myself, “I will stop. Nothing will work with my skin. I hate my skin.” I was embarrassed about my skin, and I wanted to forget about it.” But, 2 or 3 years later, I evolved and felt more comfortable with my skin. And with time, I have found people who were not toxic. I’ve found people who love me for who I am and not just my physical aspect. They love me even when I have acne.
Just recently, I told my boyfriend, “I am ready to show my skin. I’m not embarrassed anymore.”
I came to realize that my skin is like this, and I can do nothing. I don’t want to try peels or medicine. I was talking to my boyfriend, and he said, “Yes, I’m with you!” So, when it comes to acne, you need time to accept things, and you need to talk to someone that loves and doesn’t see your acne. Eventually, I became to see that acne doesn’t change who I am.
I’ve changed a lot. Before, I was such an insecure person, not just about acne, but everything. I lived in fear, and I was in this circle of not liking myself. If I could speak to my younger self, I would be proud because I have more self-confidence, and I am happy with who I am. I’m thankful for the journey. A lot of beauty standards portray nothing natural so why do people support them?
We need to normalize what’s normal, not the opposite. It’s not enough to advocate for wearing your bare face, we need to normalize the journey of acne. We need to look in the mirror and find something that we admire. Let’s start there. For example, when I look in the mirror, I like the shape of my eyes. I focus on that, and maybe with time, I will like my mouth, my nose, and perhaps even my acne. Start with something, and the most important thing is to know you’re beautiful on the inside. That is what will help us accept ourselves and understand that we don’t need to be perfect.