I mean it, I can’t tell you how many times I told those words to myself – “deformed”, “ugly”, “scary”. Every time I looked in the mirror I was horrified by what I saw looking back at me. I would do anything to get rid the pimples, blackheads and scars on my face no matter how much it hurt or cost – drying ointments that caused my skin to crack and bleed, over the counter remedies, pills, vinegar, painful facial with extractions. It breaks my heart thinking back to all of the things I put myself through in the hopes to achieve a clear complexion because I know I’m not the only one. Many women I don’t consider themselves to be beautiful but hating the skin you’re in (literally) takes this to the next level.
A few of the things I heard often (that did NOT help!) include “Its just a phase, you’ll grow out of it, just wait” (Wrong – I’m in my twenties and still waiting for that perfect skin I was promised) ,”It’ll clear up on its own” (Umm… didn’t happen), “You’d be so pretty if only your skin cleared up” (Seriously??), “Have you tried Proactive?” (If I had a dime for every time I heard this one – most of us tried this and every other product we could get our hands on in the hopes it would give us the results on TV), “Oh I know, my skin is sooo much worse than yours though, look at this one pimple I just got! (Its not a competition and one pimple doesn’t mean you have acne, you can’t compare that to painful, cystic acne many suffer from), “Why not just take something for it? Acutane? Birth control” (Because I value my health). Like many of you, I was made fun of for years (and even still) for my skin, as if it wasn’t bad enough that I was so hard on myself, my peers pointed it out constantly too.
Modeling was my dream since as long as I can remember and hearing agents, photographers, make up artists and other models tell you that this is what’s holding you back from pursing your dream made me feel truly hopeless and devastated. Several times I was shocked to learn that agencies I visited in New York City had interest in me – but they all said the same thing: “Come back when your skin a clear”. Some were very nice about it and tried to advise me but still, it felt like what was holding me back from pursing the one thing I loved doing the most was out of my control.
Acne is painful. Its as much emotionally painful as it is physically painful. The desperation I felt everyday to just rip my skin off grew and grew. There were many times I didn’t even want to leave my home because I felt ashamed of how I looked and even when I did leave, it was always with a full face of make up.
I couldn’t love myself – I couldn’t even stomach looking at myself. The amount of times I cried looking the mirror is more than I can count. Having the diagnosis of PCOS (poly-cystic ovarian syndrome) helped me to better understand why this was happening and how to better manage my break outs. Since, my skin has improved vastly however, it is still a daily struggle. The first thing I do every morning when I wake up is feel my face to see if I’ve had a flare up over night and breath relief when I don’t. I think constantly about how what I’m putting in or on my body will affect my skin.
Now my self talk has changed from “you are deformed” to “you are beautiful” (I even keep a little note on my bathroom mirror as a reminder). I feel proud when I do leave my apartment without makeup and work on doing what I can to manage my skin instead of punishing myself for it. I am confident that is only a matter of time until I figure out the right formula for what works for me (I’m almost there!) using natural, healing methods.
If you have or are currently going through something similar, please feel free to share your story or thoughts. You are absolutely not alone, you can beat this and you are beautiful.