When I was little, I would say that my face was normal and had no issues whatsoever. Around that time in one’s life, the last thing on your mind is knowing what a skincare routine is: nine-year-old me didn’t know the ins and outs of any of it. Once I started puberty, however, I noticed a few bumps that would regularly appear on my face, and from there, my self esteem would change drastically over the next 10 years of my life.
Growing up is scary enough. But, I feel like puberty is one of the scariest things. It can be a great moment in life for those who end up having glow-ups, but it can be a complete disaster for someone, like myself, who started developing acne not just on their face, but all over their body. Entering middle school, I never thought that my acne would create some of the worst experiences of my life. Not only did I have to worry about bullying, but my acne started to make me feel like I wasn’t beautiful or worthy enough of, well, anything. I tried all the acne products that were constantly on TV, but nothing seemed to work. I even went as far as wearing full-coverage makeup every single day to school, because I was too scared to show my natural face.
The redness on my face to the pain that I would get from the pimples made me feel as thought I would never escape acne, or be rid of it forever. What hurt even more were the comments from kids at my school who would tell me that I couldn’t afford to purchase the high-brand acne products, because my parents didn’t care about me. Although I knew that wasn’t true, those words cut me like a knife, and to this day, still make me emotional.
Because of my acne, and the bullying, I started to spiral into depression. I understand that acne is a common thing that occurs during puberty, but for me, it was something that affected me mentally and physically. No one ever told me how hard it was going to be when you feel like you’re the only girl in the world with a face filled with pus, pimples, and cysts. No one ever told me how hard it was going to be when you constantly have to worry about people making fun of you over something that you have no control over. People can be mean and life can be unfair, but it got to the point that I was too scared to open up about how I really felt to my friends, parents, and my counselors.
I kept asking myself, “Why me? Why can’t I be like the other girls who have pretty faces? Why can’t I have a pretty enough face that’ll help me get a boyfriend? Why am I ugly?”
Entering high school, my mindset about beauty standards changed. What inspired this change was a video about Aliva D’Andrea and her struggle with acne. In the video, Alivia displays moments that are heartfelt and the commentary about how her acne made her feel ugly made me relate to her. She advises her viewers who are suffering from acne to “keep looking up” and to love yourself no matter what your skin looks like.
I no longer wanted to compare myself to others or change myself as a way to gain male attention. For the first time in my life, I wanted to be myself. Determined to help me become my best self, my parents and I started seeing a dermatologist to figure out how I could treat my acne, and begin the road to recovery.
Meeting with the dermatologist was one of the most pivotal moments in my life, because it was the first step I took to taking care of myself. These meetings taught me a lot about acne, like how eating unhealthy foods and using certain makeup products could worsen my skin and, in turn, my self-confidence. My dermatologist also prescribed me an acne product to help with my severe acne, and by the time I was a junior in high school, my skin was starting to look clearer, despite the scars that developed from old acne.
Because of my acne, I never heard the words “You are beautiful” come from anyone besides my parents — not even from myself. Years of brutal words and bullying can make you feel unworthy of anything in life — getting a job, finding love, and graduating college — all because of an extremely normal thing.
A month ago, I made an Instagram post detailing acne positivity and how comfortable I am in my own skin — something I never would’ve been able to do a few years ago. I will admit that my skin is still not perfect, but I no longer have my mind set on perfection when it comes to my acne. In today’s society, there are more people who are embracing their acne, from normal people like me to celebrities and models like Kendall Jenner. Although I wish I had acne-positivity like this growing up, I’m proud of the steps I took to embrace my imperfections and overcome my obstacles. Acne is normal, and acne is beautiful. And if my experience can teach you anything, it’s that you should never feel ashamed of yourself because of your acne. Your skin is your skin, and it’s beautiful — never let anyone tell you differently.