Dealing with Acne. . . Emotionally
During the summer I worked at a summer camp and while I was prepared to administer day to day tasks and take kids from point A to point B, I was not prepared for them to speak their minds whenever they pleased even if that meant pointing out my biggest insecurities.
“Why do you have so many pimples?” one kid asked me while looking directly at my face. My initial reaction was shock, then anger, then eventually just sadness. How could a comment of a six year old have that much of an impact on me? Even though I know everyone can see it, no one has ever been that brutally honest. It's different when someone says it out loud to you regardless if the person who pointed it out is a six year old girl. I realize that they are only saying what everyone else is thinking. "Why does this girl have so many pimples on her face?"
As if I wasn't self-conscious enough about my acne already, this made me feel 10 times worse. Yes, I felt embarrassed, awkward, and annoyed but I ultimately just felt sad. Sad because the perfect skin everyone seems to have has simply been unattainable for me to reach. My acne has been at its worst this year. The habit of looking in the mirror has filled me with both dread and hope. Hope that maybe — just maybe — my skin cleared up a bit since the last time I looked at my reflection. I always felt ashamed to face others because I could feel them looking directly at each red, bumpy dot on my face. I couldn’t even look at the person I was talking to in the eye because their eyes would always just wander to each corner of my skin. Even if I had a full face of makeup on, I felt so self conscious. It evoked feelings of disgust and I was ashamed to face others and this ultimately has had a profound affect on my social wellbeing and mental health.
Everyone talks about how to deal with acne physically. The medications, the creams, facemasks, and the endless "just wash your face!" But no one talks about how to deal with it emotionally. Suddenly, the meanest things that are being said to you are from yourself. The more times I told myself I looked disgusting, the more I started to believe it.
We live in a very visual society; one where appearances are placed on a pedestal and beauty from within is easily overlooked. I would always compare myself with those who we might label “instagram models” whose faces simultaneously evoke both naturality and perfection but are only made possible through money and technology. Realize that the "natural" beauty standards we pressure ourselves into attaining are almost impossible for us to attain without a ridiculous amount of money and work. Skincare should be about making sure you are taking on the proper measures so you’re not in pain. It’s not always about what products you put on your face, but what you’re eating, the amount of sleep your getting, your stress levels, and any underlying conditions you may have that’s affecting your skin. The silent judgement from others is usually accompanied by ignorance. No one knows how it feels until it happens to them.
If there is one thing that I have learned while trying to cure my acne is to be nice to myself mentally and emotionally. I learned that I need to stop comparing myself to those who present us with the image of extraordinary beauty and perfection. Remember: some of the meanest things that are said to us usually come from ourselves. Try to love yourself with the acne and love yourself without it. I read somewhere that our minds hold us back much more than the actual acne. Whatever skin ordeal you may be going through, know that there is always a way to treat it. Please be patient. If it’s not working, try something new. Trust the process but always treat yourself with respect. Although it's not talked about often, it's important not to dismiss your own problems and feelings. If you notice your skin taking a toll on your mental health, don’t be afraid to ask for help and know that you’re not alone.