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Before You Comment On My Scars, You Should Know This

“I’ll be home right after I stop crying lol.”

 

This was the text I sent my roommate as I sat alone in the car of a Walgreens parking lot, head against the steering wheel—crying my eyes out. Although I was overwhelmed, this wasn’t the overwhelming kind of cry that comes from too much schoolwork or news that your favorite pet died. And although I added an “lol” to the end of my text, this wasn’t the “laughing at how pathetic I am” kind of cry that comes from watching a sad video on YouTube. This was a I really don’t think I can’t do this anymore kind. 

Growing up, I always had pimples—this was something I was used to. While it was hard back then (and while other kids were the worst, most honest critics), I was tough + I learned how to live with it. As I got older, my skin got much better and I was easily seen as that confident, outgoing, energetic girl. However, my junior year of college, my skin went through a change and all hell broke loose. With no grasp or control over what was happening to my face, and especially my emotions, I was in a really dark place. I went from that girl you could find out with her friends being the life of the party to having no life and never wanting to go to a party ever again—much less anywhere. I hid from the outside world in my house; I hid from my friends in my room; and worst of all, I hid from myself in a sad, sad stranger’s body. 

All aspects of my life started to deteriorate before me + as much as I wanted them to get better, I was emotionally, physically, and mentally too weak. At work, the kids started bringing attention my acne–“What’s wrong with your face?” “Do you have the chicken pox?”  “You look bad today, Ms. Abby”. I knew they were only kids and didn’t know better, but I internalized their comments and started not only to dread, but actually fear going to work (fear kids half my age because they reminded me of what I tried so hard to forget). I would wear layers of makeup and wore my hand over my face like a permanent mask. I would pass windows and mirrors hating who I saw looking back at me, and cry over the person my camera captured me as. 

One night, right after I had washed my face and started to brush my teeth, my two roommates came running into the bathroom–“let’s have a roomie tooth brushing party!!!” I ran out, because I couldn’t stand the idea of them seeing my face like that, exposed, red, and raw, or look at it for more than the time it took me to lock myself in my bedroom. My closest friend reminded me everyday “You’re beautiful no matter what.” However physically, I knew I wasn’t and mentally, I had lost all the confidence I worked 20 years building. I stopped talking to boys altogether, refusing anyone’s attention because I believed no one would ever like me looking like this (or wouldn’t once they saw my reality).

Until you have severe acne, you can’t understand—the lowest sense of self worth, the tears, the hopelessness, the creams, the pills, the social anxiety, the isolation. Acne doesn’t take misery on the most confident of individuals, the most beautiful of them. It doesn’t care. It will drag you down to the deepest of hell until you start to question your own strength and worth. It’s ignorant to tell those with acne it’ll get better—because to them, the pain they’re feeling in that moment will always be stronger than hope for the future. So before you comment on my scars, you should know this:

I’m not my acne. I’m a strong, confident, beautiful person who went through one of the most challenging experiences someone can. It wasn’t just emotional, it was physical. My scars are not your imperfections to judge, they’re mine. They’re my reminders that someone doesn’t need to be perfect to be desirable or successful or beautiful. My scars are my reminder that yes, I did have acne. And yes, my skin isn’t as pretty as yours……….but my skin is a hell of a lot tougher.

 

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