With time, I have accepted my acne. Before, if I had just one pimple, I would take it very hard. But now, if I have one, I don’t really mind. I’m just calm. When my skin first started to change, I was 21. I never had acne before, but then, I started getting texture on my forehead. Then, it went down to my cheeks. I didn’t know what was happening, and that was really hard. I’m not going to lie - I couldn’t stand seeing my face like that, and I would cake my face up with a lot of makeup. And for me, that was awful. I’m 25 now, and my skin has improved in comparison to what I had before. However, I still deal with huge, cystic acne under my skin.
Some days, my skin is fine. But on other days, my skin will go crazy and become very inflamed. For example, from January to May of this year, my skin was okay. But just this month when I got my period, it went crazy. I got huge and inflamed acne under my skin. Even when I tried to put products on, my skin would tingle. But ten days later, my skin was calm again. In general, my skin is very up and down, but I’ve decided to show the phases it goes through on Instagram because most of the time, we only see before and after pictures. We’re fed this idea that once we perfect our skincare routines, our acne will be gone forever and that we should always look perfect and glowy. But, It’s not really that way. Our diets change, we have stress, and we have periods. Our skin is constantly changing, and that’s not a big deal. I see this as natural, and that’s why posting my skin on Instagram isn’t very nerve-wracking for me.
I will say though that people never really gave me a hard time about my skin in Belgium. My friends never criticized me for it. Also, we don’t really see a lot of people in Belgium that cake on makeup. That’s not the expectation, and women go for more natural-looking aesthetics. Also, I don’t see a lot of Belgians that do plastic surgery to their bodies. So, while being natural is seen as better by Belgians, I still believe that beauty standards could be much more inclusive. Most of the time, you’ll see white women in advertising, or maybe a mixed girl every now and then. You’ll never see a dark-skinned girl. Also, sometimes it’s an issue here to see a woman in a Hijab, and that’s a shame because people should be allowed to wear whatever they want, and people should be allowed to live authentically. Growing up, I didn’t even feel like I could embrace myself. I have big, curly hair, and while this is starting to become a norm, it wasn’t like that before. When I was little, I had a perm, and even though it broke my curls, I still had really big hair.
Kids would make fun of my hair all of the time, and that’s why I was always getting a perm and straightening it. I actually damaged my hair, and I started to lose a bit of hair too. When this happened, I started to do masks. I had to research how to take care of my own hair, and finally, I went natural. I told myself that I would go natural for two years just to grow it out, and after that, I would perm my hair. But, here I am after 10 years still with natural hair, and people in Belgium love it. They’re always like - “Oh, your hair so beautiful!” And although it’s more accepted to have natural hair now, there is this problem where they always want to touch it.
Why do you want to touch our hair? We’re not pets.
Despite this, there has still been progress. In the past, I never saw girls like me wearing their natural hair because perms were the standard. Seeing girls with natural hair is a recent thing. Now, I’m happy to embrace who I am and to have my big, curly hair. And even if I have acne, I’m still happy. I’m not pursuing perfect, clear skin anymore. I just focus on healthy skin. The skin is an organ so it will have its up and downs. Imperfection is a part of normalcy, and when you’re able to think of imperfections as something normal, it’s easier to flourish.