Maia: Living Life with Acne. Living Life without Fear.

Trigger warning: Bullying

“When I first started school, I loved every moment of it. But when I got acne at 13, people changed towards me. I didn’t really think anything of my acne at first, but then girls started to comment on what I looked like, and that really knocked my self-confidence down. I had never thought of wearing make-up either, but when a girl came up to me and said - you’d look so much better with makeup, I began to associate my physical appearance with my self-worth. As my acne got worse, like I said, people changed towards me. I guess they felt like they couldn’t relate to me or something.”

“Growing up, I was severely bullied, and to be honest, I began to hate what I looked like. I was so young, and I had never really thought about my appearance in that way. It was only until I started getting bullied that I began to focus on what I look like. It got so bad that my mom had to take me out of school for a while, and that was tough. My mom was a single mom, and she was trying to home school me whilst trying to become a nurse. On top of that, she had to take care of my brother too. We couldn’t move so I had to go back to the school where I was being bullied. So, I would just find myself eating lunch in the bathroom by myself. “

“It got that bad. It was not a nice place to be in.”

“I still can’t believe that people would bully someone for what they look like or for any reason, and I didn’t really have a recourse. Back then, when I was in school, there were no acne communities on Instagram, there was only a platform called Bebo. That platform was all about idealizing your body and your life. There were no communities on that platform where you could go and ask for support and advice.”

“That’s the reason I got into skin positivity. It was for myself too though. I wanted to express my struggles, and I wanted to get out of my shell. When I started to post, I began to realize how many people were inspired by my Instagram page. And if I can help one person, then my day is made. I started my page to get out of my comfort zone, but I also started it to give advice and to tell people how they’re not alone. I’m so glad that the acne community exists because even people who don’t have families can go somewhere and seek support. If you can, it’s important to speak with a health professional too. Counseling sessions have really helped me reprogram my brain. After being bullied, speaking to a professional helps you regulate your thought processes. Once you reprogram your mind from all of the lies you’ve been told by bullies, then you can start on the healing and evolution process. It’s also important to cut toxic relationships out of your life. As soon as your find yourself fixating on whether or not you measure up to a person’s standards, that’s a toxic situation, and you need to focus on yourself. Also, when you feel more positive within yourself, toxic people kind of back off.”   

“For that reason, one of my greatest aspirations is to help people with their confidence because life is too short to hate yourself. It was only last year that I woke up, and I realized how I needed to include self-love into my life. Now, I don’t listen to negativity. The young version of myself would have heard a negative comment online and believed it. The old me wouldn’t have even done this interview, but I became so bored of not liking myself and being bullied. When I was in secondary school, I thought that those years were going to live forever, but I moved into different seasons in my life. And most importantly, I spoke with someone.”

“I understand why you may want to isolate yourself. It’s hard because the risk of being judged is a terrifying feeling, but you’ve got to ask someone for help on how to discount the negative thoughts about yourself that pop into your head. They are not true, and they stem from bullying a lot of the time. For me, they do. Don’t keep it inside. You’ve got to learn how to filter that stuff out, and a mental health professional can help you do that. Talking with someone you feel safe with, in general, may help you do that. And I’m not perfect, nobody is perfect. I still have down days where I still feel that negativity, but acne isn’t going to go away overnight so it’s better to go ahead and start your journey towards living life.”