I started getting breakouts around 13, and I’ve struggled with it ever since then. At first, I only had sporadic, teenage breakouts, but then the breakouts became hormonal, and they appeared every month.
Every day before school, I started spending an hour doing my makeup. I became obsessed with how I looked and with how others saw me. I spent so much time in front of the mirror, crying to myself, picking at my spots, obsessing over it. Eventually, I couldn’t even go to get the mail without putting on foundation. I had a very toxic relationship with makeup. As I covered my red spots with foundation, I would look in the mirror and pretend to have flawless skin. But once I came home from school and wiped my face with a makeup wipe, I was back to hating my skin again. My acne affected everything that I did, and it was in control.
I hated that.
Growing up, I wasn’t really taught how to express my feelings to others. That’s why I didn’t feel comfortable opening to my friends. Also, I never fully opened up because I feared that they’d think of me as selfish for obsessing so much about my appearance. Also, I’d never had many good experiences with sharing my feelings so, I kept a lot of things to myself. When I was 14, my friend, who had clear skin, saw all the products I put on my face, and she complained to me - “why do you have to put so many products on your face? You take so long in the bathroom to get ready!” To her, it seemed unnecessary, but I didn’t know how to explain myself. She made me feel humiliated or as if l was doing something wrong, but all I wanted was to have clear skin.
After experiencing this, I thought to myself - “I never want to make anyone feel the way she made me feel that day.”
I developed social anxiety, and I strongly believe that it is connected to my struggles with acne. I remember I would unintentionally distance myself from everyone around me. I ended up spending most of my weekends and vacations alone in bed, getting lost in series. For a long time, I thought I liked being alone, but I didn’t want to show my face to anyone or bother putting on makeup. Being isolated for so long made me insecure and unsure of how to interact with people. Whenever I had to do something out of my comfort zone, I would start feeling very anxious. Just being around people, friends, and family would drain all of my energy. And at that point, all I wanted was to be alone. That’s what I believed I wanted, but it was not what I truly needed. Today, I still experience some anxiety, but I am working very hard on getting out of my comfort zone, and I hope that sharing my experience online like this is a step in the right direction.
Lately, I’ve been trying to figure out why I was so obsessed with having clear skin and why I hated my face so much. Where I come from in Norway, we have different terms for acne and acne-prone skin. One of the most common terms people use when they talk about acne-prone skin is the term “impure skin.” “Impure” is synonymous to “unclean, filthy, gross, and more. For my Norwegians out there, I am talking about the term “uren hud.”
Even though “uren hud” is just a term, I think it affected me more than I knew. That’s why I’m so grateful that I found Cassandra’s YouTube channel and these amazing communities. Finding an online community has helped me realize that there are so many people who have gone and are going through the same struggles. This really makes me feel less alone. It has made it easier to accept the things about my appearance I cannot change.
I’m soon to be 20, and I realize that there are so many things I want to do with my life.
I will not let my acne stand in my way anymore. Acne is not the first thing I should see when I look in the mirror. We are so much more than our skin.
I am very grateful for the body that I have. I’ve learned that my acne shouldn’t matter that much to me, especially when my boyfriend tells me I’m beautiful with or without acne every day (I don’t know if that’s cheating when it comes to the skin positivity journey, lol ). I just want to focus more on my actions and who I want to be as a person because in reality, that’s what defines who I am.