If you’re anything like me, you’ll know the common struggles of acne, stretch marks, and other physical insecurities that can control your confidence on any given day. But why are these normal things considered “struggles”? Why do we dislike the way we look? I can point a finger at digital media sources or the capitalistic, male-centric beauty industry for setting unrealistic and harmful expectations of what the standard of female beauty is. As a whole, most of us have internalized negative opinions of ourselves and our natural being that would not have existed without external influences.
As much as I love makeup and all things beauty, my hobby only sprung from distaste with my skin from a young age. I had painful, cystic acne beginning in middle school, and I also struggled with unbalanced skin that was difficult to control. I tried multiple treatments, including topical medications, facial washes, skincare masks, and dermatologist-prescribed solutions like Accutane and Curology, yet nothing was able to fully resolve my skin problems. I was so ashamed of my skin that I would wake up early each day to put on a full-coverage foundation and concealer until any redness was hidden by pore-clogging makeup; there wasn’t a single day of my life that I did not wear makeup until I entered college because I was so insecure. I packed makeup for sleepovers to conceal my acne the following day, even if I was just going straight home. I never removed my makeup for sports practices or even swimming with friends, even though that was another harmful choice for the health of my skin.
When my acne was at its worst, I never realized that it was completely normal for me to have imperfect skin as a young woman in the middle of puberty. There was no internal reason I had to hate my face without others pointing out my flaws and trying to “fix” me. I should have wanted to upkeep my skin’s health rather than experiment with it to appear more attractive to others.
Now, I allow my skin to breathe and be treated with kindness, and I no longer put my worth into how others perceive me physically. I try to be more conscious of toxic societal standards that are rooted in negativity rather than empowerment, and I am actively unlearning the ingrained beliefs that I need to have flawless features to be valued as an individual. I hope that we can normalize embracing our societally-assumed “mistakes” in our appearances and show the world that beauty goes beyond the surface.