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Skin Cleared, Life Blessed, Still a Mess




“Dear God, Santa, Tooth Fairy, or anyone listening. I don’t want to seem too pushy, but could you please stop giving me acne. It’s really making me sad. Thanks.”

As the end of tenth grade was coming to a close, high hopes of summer were suddenly on the horizon, and hours of poolside lounges sat before me. Yet, this summer felt different, terrifying and intimidating. I honestly had no desire to sit bare-faced with the rest of my non-hormonal friends, acting as if I didn’t have a care in the world, when I truly did. I had SO MANY cares.

Acne never played a huge part in my life until I was halfway through high school, I was lucky to be able to play sports and sweat more than an African pig, yet still stay clear-faced. It was something I took for granted. That was until the day I got my first spray tan. 

It was like the floodgates of hell were opened and war broke out on my face like an army of angry, red sores. Within a week of my tan, I had cystic acne covering my entire forehead and jawline. Tiny white bumps scattered across my forehead, and a lovely mustache of zits lined my upper lip. I could barely recognize my face in the mirror, it was as if I had been smacked in the face by a wasp nest. It was shocking, frustrating, and honestly, just plain old’ embarrassing. I was, by the conventional beauty standards, not lookin’ too hot. 

This began my search for the cure to this battle against time, hormones, and self-care. I bought expensive creams with the help of my mother, took prescription after prescription medication in the hopes that something would cease-fire on my poor face. In all my desperate attempts, nothing seemed to work. I spent that summer under an umbrella with a full face of makeup on, completely and totally mortified by how awful I thought I looked. All I could think was, “My body is the best it’s ever been, abs for literal days, yet my hideous skin just takes away from all of it. I hate myself. Why can’t I look like everyone else?”

Everyone in the world struggles with something, whether it be acne, weight, their nose, teeth, hips, feet, you name it. It’s hard to ignore an incredibly prominent flaw, something that’s impossible to stop thinking about on a day-to-day basis. I grew up thinking that the day my skin cleared would be the day I could finally live carefreely. I would be unchained from the pain that is hating how you look and feeling like you have to cover the imperfections that make up you. That day came and went about six months ago when I finally had a breakthrough with my skin. And guess what?

Now, I feel like I look fat.

I kept looking forward to the day where I could brave the day without makeup, yet it doesn’t feel any different when I do. I just find myself looking for something else to criticize and be unhappy with, not to the point like I was before, but it wasn’t lifechanging like I thought it would be. I never learned to accept the skin that I was in, never creating a version of myself that was confident no matter how awful my face felt, and so when I finally fixed the “flaw”, a new one found its way to the surface. We continue to think once we fix this ONE thing, once we lose those TEN pounds, get that ONE nose job, that everything else will magically come together. In some cases, things do look uphill. We will have moments where the change is appreciated, but in the long haul, the only difference it truly makes is to us, not other people. You have so much more to offer the world than just looks, use that to make it a better place, not create more hate towards yourself. I realize it’s incredibly hard to change perspective on something that seems so life-altering, but believe me when I say, just knowing that you aren’t the only one feeling this way can help.

I read this article a while back when I was still Googling self-help tips on how to not want to jump off a cliff with my crunchy looking skin when I came across a blog that a woman who suffered from adult acne had written. She talked about how she was traveling the world post-college and had run into another girl doing the same, so they joined forces. As the trip progressed, they ran into lots of people, including cute guys. The additional girl who she had met was pretty, yet sported a fair amount of acne, but never wore makeup to hide it. Due to her overall confidence and ability to act as if she were looking and feeling like America’s Top Model, she ended up attracting tons of guys. The writer was surprised and inspired to do the same herself, instead of running to the bathroom every morning to cover up scars. The post provided a confidence booster to me. I had always felt that people were only attracted to the perfection they see on TV, but that’s not the case. Guys and girls alike enjoy seeing someone confident in their own skin. People feed off of this vibe, and not only return it as well but want to continue being around it.

You are beautiful. There are millions of songs, books, poems, and movies to tell you that. But only you can truly take that to heart, no matter how many other people try to convince you. If I could go back to my high school self and tell her that no one cared about her acne, they were all so busy focusing on their own flaws and lives to even be bothered, I would. I’d wipe off my mascara and jump in that pool. I’d go back and enjoy life to the fullest. Although I can’t turn back time, I can choose to help those in the same situation that I was once in and try to show them that no matter how crappy your skin may make you feel, the day that it’s fixed, you’ll wonder why you even cared in the first place.

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Christina Kass

Virginia Tech '20

A multimedia journalism major with a flair for cinematography. Blacksburg native with supreme Hokie spirit. #VT2020
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