Yoella’s Story: Living Free. Living with Acne.

My acne got so much worse after pregnancy. I was devastated when I got acne. I was like - “I can’t be 20+ and have acne.” I felt like a teenager again. Back then, I always had the sense of never feeling pretty, and I felt excluded from beauty standards. Beauty standards always exclude someone. And if you’re the one who’s getting excluded, it’s really scary. You think all of these thoughts like:

“I might not ever find anyone.”

“What if no one really wants to talk to me?”

“What if people think I’m disgusting?”

“It doesn’t help either when you’re constantly confronted with images of perfection. Plus, the highest standard of beauty in Sweden is pretty much being “plastic fantastic.”

“Cosmetic surgery is really popular in Sweden. It’s getting harder to find people who haven’t had any work done. In Sweden, getting work on your cheekbones and jaw is really popular. While it’s human nature to find certain things beautiful and to uphold beauty standards, there’s no standard of natural beauty. Beauty standards are always tied to the idea that you need to change yourself, and they are mostly toxic. They make us, especially women, feel pushed to change ourselves, and they also put women in uncomfortable situations.”

“For example, I have a family friend who’s a medical doctor, and when he saw my acne, the first thing he said to me was - “you have lupus.” He said it with such conviction. When people see acne, it’s like they always want to tell you their beliefs about your skin, or sometimes, they’ll just blurt out anything. Then, you’re just left standing there like - “Okay… really? Well, that didn’t feel good.” What are you supposed to say? You don’t even know how to reply.”

“When he said that to me, that was one of the first times I had gone out with a bare face. So when I heard a comment like that, I felt very shut down, and I just wanted to go back and hide. And then later on Instagram, I got one comment that said - “why do you keep going out with all of that acne? You should cover it.” I just thought - “Because I want to live. I don’t want to just stay inside and miss out on my life because of acne.”

Yoella shows a close up image of her face. Her blue eyes are illuminated.

“When you have acne, people expect don’t expect you to feel free; they expect you to constantly explain yourself. And if you don’t have a good enough reason to be valid in their eyes, you’re even less accepted. If you have acne, but you don’t know why, that is not accepted by people. And they believe you should feel guilty about being invalid. You get judged so heavily just for having a few red dots on your face. And is hard to fight that judgment mentally because you don’t ever see acne in a positive form. Even when you google acne, you only see miserable, sad people squeezing pimples.”

“After a while, it’s really frustrating, and you get angry because you just want to live.”

“If you want to start living freely with acne, it’s important to take small steps. Maybe see a friend or someone that you trust without makeup. Go somewhere small without makeup. For a lot of people who’ve been through this journey, we understand that you can’t wait until you have clear skin to start living happily. When you suddenly get acne, skin takes up so much of your time and energy. Looking back, I spent hours picking at my skin and thinking all of these negative things about myself.”

“I didn’t even have to meet anyone who would say negative things to me. The stigma against acne in society was enough. However, there’s really no truth to the stigma. I’ve been able to meet great people while I’ve had acne. My life changed completely when I started asking myself - “If I weren’t scared because of my acne, what would I do? If I weren’t so scared, would doing this make me happy?” And if the answer was yes, I did it. I had to force myself to do the things that I want to do. That’s why I started the “living with acne” hashtag. I wanted to show people that it is possible to experience life while having acne. “

“I’m always thankful for the experience of acne because it helped me learn how to accept myself unconditionally. Now, I really don’t care about acne because I don’t feel that I need to change something about myself in order to be accepted.”