When my skin first started changing, I was so stressed. Acne runs in my family, and when my acne started, I was like - “I’ve got it. This is it. It’s not going to go away.” That made me really upset because that realization made me feel so awful about myself. None of my friends had it, and I felt like I was the only one. I couldn’t relate to anyone. I just felt so awful, and at my school, there was a no-makeup policy. We weren’t allowed to wear any makeup at all. This caused me a lot of distress because I literally hated what I looked like. I was like - “I can’t go to school in front of all of those people with these spots on my face. Everyone is going to think I look so ugly and gross and disgusting.” So, I just wore loads of makeup to cover it up. But then, the teachers were like - “you can’t wear makeup to school. You have to take it off.” When I was 14, a teacher told me - “everyone is insecure about something. You don’t need to wear that much makeup.” At that moment, I was just thinking to myself - “is that supposed to be helpful???”
This was frustrating because they would make comments when I didn’t wear makeup too. However, while no one was ever actively mean to me, I could always feel people looking at me. This made me distracted a lot. It was just so embarrassing. I didn’t even want to wear makeup. I just wanted to cover up. Feeling the need to cover up made me really insecure, and it also made me anxious to step outside without any makeup. It felt intimidating to step outside without makeup because you feel like everyone is staring at you, and that isn’t a nice feeling at all.
The teacher would hand me makeup wipes, and I’d have to take it off. And in turn, everyone noticed how much makeup I was wearing. Afterwards, I would get questions like - “why did you have on all of that makeup?”
These experiences made my personality more out there. I tried to distract people from what was on my face. During the day, I was quite loud and hyper. These traits are actually a part of my real personality, but I was using those traits to make people see who I was rather than what I looked like. When I got home though, I was no longer that bubbly and exuberant girl. I would try to hype myself up throughout the day. But, when I took my makeup off at home, I hated what I saw. I thought covering myself with loads of makeup would cover everything up, but you could still see all of the texture, and eventually, it didn’t seem worth it.
I didn’t really talk to my friends about this. Sometimes, they would say, “your skin is fine. No one notices it. You notice more than other people.” That didn’t help because, in my heart, I always felt like - “...but… you do notice it...”
Soon after, Instagram became an outlet, and with time, I started to accept what I look like. I never used to take photos. I used to edit and blur all my skin out, but once I found the acne community, I met people who related to me, and that helped me so much mentally. When I first started posting, I was so scared. I was afraid that people I knew were going to find it, judge me, and talk about me. However, I posted at the perfect time. I had just finished my gap year, and I was going to college. I wasn’t going back to anywhere where people could talk about me. I was still so scared though because I was just starting to talk to my boyfriend. As soon as he saw my pictures, I thought that he was going to stop talking to me or maybe think I was ugly. I posted it at night, and I didn’t tell anyone, but eventually, my boyfriend found it. When he did, he was just like - “Oh, I saw your Instagram. That’s so amazing.” He was really good about it.
I remember meeting him for the first time, and I was wearing makeup. He had only seen selfies of me with makeup, but now I don’t wear makeup around him all the time.
I used to spend hours on my makeup so no one could see my spots, but now I don’t care. I don’t care what people think anymore. I used to be very worried about what people thought of me, but my Instagram has greatly helped me with that. People make comments, and I literally do not care. People will comment things on my posts like - “you’re ugly. You’re dirty. You’re this.”
But, I’m not.
Anyways, it shows more about them than it does me. It’s so normal to have acne which I didn’t know back then. We shouldn’t worry what people think of us because we’re all different at the end of the day.
It’s true that I still get insecure sometimes, but I was able to change my thinking over a long period of time. I didn’t just wake up one day and decide not to have anxiety over my acne and not to wear makeup. It’s just that my Instagram feed is full of non-edited pictures, people with acne, people with acne scars, and everything like that. I don’t look at unrealistic images. Perfect images on social media are only really if you make them real and follow the accounts. Many influencers don’t even look like themselves on Instagram so you can’t expect to look like something that’s not real. I don’t surround myself with that, and that’s just made me feel so much better about myself.
When you feel better about yourself, I’ve found that it’s easier to change your thinking. It’s easier to remember that we’re all human, and just because we have things that we don’t like about ourselves, doesn’t mean that we can’t be confident. Just because we don’t have complete self-acceptance doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy being ourselves. It will take time, but you can learn to like yourself and even be confident.
Everyone struggles, and we fixate on things that we think are abnormal about ourselves. We always feel like we’re the only ones, but we’re not. Besides, there’s so much more to us than our skin or our insecurities. Who we are as a person is so much more important than temporary spots on our faces.
I used to hate my scars so much, and I wanted to get rid of them, but now I don’t actively try to get rid of them because I feel like they make me who I am. I feel like they show how far I’ve come. I like who I am as a person, and my scars are a part of that. Everyone thinks that if you like yourself, it’s self-centered, but it’s not. It’s better to like yourself because you’re with yourself all the time.
I used to attach self-love to looking beautiful, and I used to view beauty as something external. I thought that if I changed on the outside, I’d be happy.
Or, when my skin was clear, I’d be happy.
Or, if I looked a certain way, I’d be happy.
But, that just isn’t attainable.
It’s so much more important to focus on who you are, and it’s so much more important to be kind. Of course, we want to look nice, but looks will change or fade.
Who we are stays with us.