Constanza is from Chile but lives in the Czech Republic. She speaks with us about her skin and mental journey.
I have really oily skin, but I never took care of it as a teenager. I had a lot of cystic acne, but I was too embarrassed and ashamed to talk about it or to take steps towards treatment. I thought that if I tried to make it better, people would make fun of me and think - “Well, why is she trying? What is even the point.” I don’t know why I thought that, but my anxiety was very hard. That’s why I never took care of my acne until I was like 23. I kept having the recurring thought that people were saying - “Why is she trying to be something she’s not? What is she trying to do?” I never went through any bullying except from that of my mind. I even stopped going to school for some weeks because my mind told me that people were laughing and making fun of me when they obviously weren’t. I don’t know. I just felt anxious. It was not a good time.
So, going out with my friends was something that I didn’t want to do. If were to meet in a house with only my closest friends, I was okay. But otherwise…no. In comparison to them, I felt too less than. When I sat with them, I felt like I didn’t belong. So, I avoided a lot of social interactions. However, lately I’ve been trying to be more social and not pay attention to the opinions of others. Now, I’m trying to focus on my own opinions, and it's getting way better.
For example, I know a lot of sad things have happened during the pandemic, but for me, it was an opportunity in disguise. During that time, I had just moved to the Czech Republic. So, I didn’t know a lot of people, and I was living in the university dormitories. So, when the pandemic started, everyone went home, and I was alone in the building. I was so alone that I had a lot of time to reflect on myself, and that actually helped me to think about questions like:
“What do I like?”
“Why don’t I like myself that much?”
“Why did I change my style when I started having acne?
“Why don’t I wear clothing that I like?”
So, I started trying to answer these questions within myself, and little by little, I started trying to change my wardrobe. When I was alone, I would just try cute clothes on, go for a walk, and then come back. That helped a lot. Another thing that helped a lot was watching Cassandra’s videos and how she would show her natural skin. It was really empowering because you never see that. From there, I also began to realize that I was basing my personality on who I believed I should be and who TV shows told me to be. I was not discovering who I truly was because I did not know how to be myself. I had never learned, and that’s what I’ve been trying to do. I’m trying. I can be me if I try.
Like, once I started with the little things, I became more comfortable with myself overall. One thing I’ve learned to appreciate about myself is my hair, and I dress with more liberation now. Whereas, in the past, I would never have worn form-fitting, colorful, or striking clothes. But now, when I pick out clothes, I think - “This is nice,” not “Okay, this will cover me up.” Now, I even go to the mirror and think - “I want to take care of my skin” or “I’m going to buy something for my hair.” That has personally impacted me a lot. Compared to how it was, my thought process has evolved so much. Before, I thought that acne made me so undesirable and off-putting that buying nice clothes or makeup felt pointless. I thought something beautiful would be lost on me. So, I used to wear a lot of baggy, colorless clothes and sweatshirts
During that time, those feelings felt so real, but now that I think about it - they made no sense. Because why? Before I got acne, I loved nice clothes.
So, why not now?
I started going to therapy too in order to figure out why. I’ve been to therapy for 10 years now, and it’s gotten easier. When I first started, my anxiety was telling me that my therapist would judge me even though she was there for the opposite reason. In my rational mind, I knew that. But for some reason, I wasn’t able to concentrate on that fact because I felt too ashamed. So, my mind kept playing tricks. I’m way better now though, and I’ve taken huge steps.
Today, even if I have a big pimple on my face, I can look in the mirror and say -
“You know what? I look nice today”
“I look pretty”
“I like this outfit.”
I can go out with my friends and have people see my face. I am not ashamed. I just feel more comfortable now. Before, I felt very alone, but acne is very common, and there are others who understand. You are not alone, and you are worth getting the help that you deserve. You deserve to feel as comfortable in your skin as you can. You’re are worth going through the path of being your best self.