Mia: Learning to Love Myself Consistently

My name is Mia, and I’m originally from Hong Kong, but I moved to the UK two or three years ago for uni (university). During that time, I started posting about my skin because I was very stressed. In addition to having eczema, my skin was breaking out, and my skin was the most inflamed it had ever been. It wasn’t something that I could get rid of or treat with a pimple sticker. There were tiny bumps all over my face, and I couldn’t figure out what to do.

Even though I had always dealt with spots, my acne was hormonal. So, there were not many products that helped. I went through a lot of trial and error and exfoliated a lot. Overwhelming my skin, I used too many products without realizing the effects. A lot of my money was spent, and none of it worked. 

My acne started getting intense during COVID because I constantly wore a mask, especially to hide myself. I was living in Hong Kong at the time, and it was so humid. The mask would just irritate my skin even more, but it was the only way I could cover up my skin. I was very ashamed, and it took a big toll on my mental health which is why I became so determined to research further and help my skin. Once I got to uni, I learned more. My friends introduced me to different skin types as well. And from there, skincare struck an interest in me. I began posting, and I decided to record my skincare journey too.

Mia describes how her skin journey began.

Growing up, I was always exposed to the beauty standard of smooth, clear, and pale skin. However, I had acne, and because my image didn’t align with those standards, people would often comment on my skin. I would hear things like, “Drink water. Eat this. Don’t eat that. You’re not sleeping enough.” But, I tracked all of that, and nothing helped. So, I felt alone and alienated. It felt invalidating because when I needed help, no one offered it to me. But, when I was quiet about it, I got unsolicited comments. It angered me for a long time, but at some point, I decided to accept it. I also decided to take steps toward accepting myself.

Accepting myself was a process. I would have some moments where I was like, “Okay, I can let these insecurities go,” and I would be good for a few weeks. But then, a wave of insecurity would come upon me, and it felt very discouraging. For this reason, I also had to accept that self-love and healing your skin will never be a linear process. Before I knew this, I would get so down on myself whenever I had a breakout. At first, I didn’t even like looking in the mirror, and I was very self-conscious about what other people thought. I can even remember avoiding eye contact. 



I didn’t want people to comment on my acne. When people pointed out my skin, I knew it was something that I couldn’t change right away. “And if I can’t change it right away, why would they point it out to me?” I thought to myself. I felt emotionally and mentally overwhelmed by the remarks of others, but I didn’t have anyone to talk to. I didn’t have too many friends in uni so I felt very isolated. I was living by myself for the first time, and I was in London. Everything was very fast-paced, and I felt a little lost. I was also struggling with relationships back home, and every little thing in my life was just piling up. 

So, I decided to go to the University counseling center, but I didn’t feel like the approach was truly working for me. Thus, I had to take matters into my own hands. Initially, I tried to start with not picking at my skin or looking in the mirror too long. For the next step, I tried to start giving myself affirmations. I would say to myself, “It’s okay because my skin is not something I can change right away.”

Soon after, I started going to the gym too. Going to the gym helped me to have goals outside of uni. It distracted me from my other problems. The gym also helped me to remain active, destress, and to avoid staying in my room all day. Because I was so anxious, all was doing was going to class and going to my room. 


This was around COVID time as well. So, I felt a bit unsafe going out. During this time, the Asian community was being targeted. So, I felt kind of paranoid. The only place I felt truly comfortable going to was the gym, and I think this is where my confidence journey truly started. There are a lot of female gyms in the UK too, and I love it. That was another thing that made me feel comfortable and get in the habit of going to the gym. 

However, my goal wasn’t to lose weight, It was just to stay consistent and to find something that I could focus on outside of my stressors. I would take a 45-minute bus ride to the gym, and I would use that time to listen to music or a podcast. This taught me how to spend time with myself and be by myself. I needed something external that I could progress in because I was so codependent in some of the relationships I had back home. 

Mia describes how she began to build her confidence. 

As I began going to the gym, I learned on a deeper level that progress is not linear. For me, my self-esteem came from being consistent. For instance, there might be days when you’re not lifting as much. But, what makes you strong is knowing what you’re capable of during the process. 

As I started going to the gym, this was the same time I got into skincare. I would use spray SPF because I didn’t want to touch my face, and then I would come home and do my skincare routine. During skincare, I had to consistently face myself in the mirror. And I began to think about how I should start separating my confidence from my looks.

For me, my looks are so inconsistent. So, why would I completely base how I feel on my looks? Obviously, there are still days when I do this. But, deep down, I know I am more than how I look. I know I am capable of being confident. 

With time, I’ve learned that confidence is a lot about allowing yourself “to just be.” If I wake up and feel sad, I let myself feel sad. I used to not do that. I used to think that if I woke up and felt happy, I had to stay happy throughout the day. I thought that not being happy all the time equated with being moody. 

However, I’ve learned to let myself feel. This helped me be more comfortable with myself, and it allowed me to have more confidence. Trying to pretend like I felt something that I did not was quite deteriorating for me. It felt like I was hiding. I feel most comfortable being myself, which means feeling what I feel. I don’t like fitting into that standard of “always being okay.”

That’s why I don’t try to maintain an image on social image. I just post whatever I want. I try not to worry about what’s trending or the amount of likes I’m getting. Because at the end of the day, I just want to be myself, and I want other people to know that it’s okay to be themselves. You don’t have to follow a trend because trends change every five seconds. You can’t change who you are every five seconds. That’s exhausting. We should love ourselves because we’re more amazing than any beauty standard. We should be loving ourselves just for the sake of it.