Running from Mirrors: Life with Acne


“Living with acne is like living with a voice in the back of your head telling you that no-one really sees you; all they see is acne.”

Catoptrophobia; that’s what the fear of mirrors is commonly named. I wouldn't say I have a fear of mirrors per se, I just have a very distinct habit of discretely running away from them. This is not because I fear them, but because I fear what I may see or what I may feel when I look at myself. I always try to portray myself as a confident woman that doesn't let what other people say ruin her day, but in reality I’m scared of what people think when they look at me, when they look at my acne.

I’ve had many encounters where people who don’t know me stop me at the mall or pharmacy to tell me what worked to clear their nephew’s neighbor and their daughter’s acne; and don’t get me wrong, I know that deep down they’re trying to help, but imagine if someone stopped you on the street and pointed out your biggest insecurity. You feel exposed, like someone broke the imaginary shield you made in your mind, the shield that protected you and made you feel like maybe no one will notice and maybe you looked good today. A simple comment from an unknown person exposed your biggest insecurity to the world. That’s why I took the habit of hiding myself, letting acne control my life, never looking into mirrors and never ever getting out of the house without makeup on.

I’ve lived with acne for most of my life, and I’ve let acne decide how my day is doing, what clothes to wear, if I was getting out of bed and how I felt. It’s weird knowing that such a little thing has such a big impact in my life. Living with acne is like living with a voice in the back of your head telling you that no-one really sees you because all they see is acne. Throughout the years I have tried everything to “get rid of it,” I have gone as far as to try: topicals, treatment, pills, tiny needles, diets, detox, soul searching, summoning the good skin spirits; but nothing has really worked. Every try and fail chipped away my confidence, it got to the point where I missed classes because I felt like my acne was really bad that day.

(Image found on Instagram: PIGSS)

One day I was feeling particularly down because of a comment someone said to me (I think it was in good faith but I didn't hurt any less), I was laying in my bed crying and scrolling through Instagram when I discovered a page of a girl named Hailey Wait; a beautiful 17 year old photographer with acne who is trying to break stereotypes about society’s view on perfection. After scrolling through her instagram and finding other people like her, I got a little hope, because to me she’s an inspiration and people that get to the point of enough self confidence and self love to open yourself to the world like that are amazing to me. I wish one day all of us get to that point where we don’t let acne, or anything else, control our lives and our emotions; I hope that maybe one day I’ll get out of bed, look at myself and smile. Maybe I’m not there yet, but for me writing this article is a small step into the journey of accepting myself; a small step into being comfortable enough in my own skin, instead of running away from the mirror. Hopefully, one day I will pass by it at a store and I will stare at myself and feel happy with what I see.