I’ll never forget my very first experience with a blemish. I was ten years old and upon rising to get ready for school, I passed the bathroom mirror and noticed a big red mark on my chin. My first response was to poke it with my finger which I quickly regretted as I winced with pain. I ran out to the kitchen where my sister was hunched over a bowl of Kellog’s Rice Krispies and flicking through the Argos catalogue in search of possible birthday presents to ask our parents for. I dramatically pointed to the foreign body on my face only for her to roll her eyes and explain that it was ‘just a spot’. She assured me that it would go away if I rubbed some Sudocreme on it before bed and went back to munching on her cereal.
And there began my 8-year (and still ongoing) struggle with Acne.
I’ve never understood why the topic of acne is such a taboo in modern society. We constantly search for ways to cover it up and avoid the subject like the plague. I remember sitting at my desk everyday with my chin resting in my hands in an attempt to hide my blemishes from my classmates. In the weeks leading up to my confirmation I attacked my spots every night with all sorts of lotions that had been suggested on google but to my dismay I woke up on the day to an acne ridden reflection in the mirror. I begged my mom to let me use her makeup (which was about 5 shades too dark) to cover my spots so that they wouldn’t be seen in photos.
The fact of the matter is that 85% of people between the ages of 13 and 20 will suffer with acne at some stage and it will affect between 5 and 10 percent of those over the age of 20. The percentage of people who experience a few blemishes every now and then is even higher. I don’t know one person who has never had a spot on their body in their lifetime. Even babies get milk spots for goodness sake.
So why is it still such a problem to talk about acne? Why do we feel that we must use filters when taking photographs to hide our spots? Why can’t people just accept that this is a common skin condition? There are multiple things which contribute to acne. Some which can’t be helped such as hormones, undiagnosed food intolerances, certain medications, stress and genetics. But people still choose to comment on other people’s skin and go as far as to bully those with acne.
I was given the nickname ‘Spotty’ on my first day of university by an arrogant person (who will remain unnamed). I had a huge breakout on my chin due to stress from moving away from home as well as being off of my usual diet in the previous few days. I had chosen to forego makeup on this given day as, after 8 years of dealing with this condition, I had learned that cosmetics would only slow the healing process.
Unfortunately, this is only one of many examples of people commenting on my skin. I have dealt with low self-esteem because of my acne. For a long time, my mood was determined by the condition of my skin on that given day.
The strange thing is that when I have spoken to close friends and family members about my struggle with acne, many say that they didn’t even notice until I drew attention to it. We tend to be so consumed with our own appearances and assume that others are staring at our ‘flaws’ that we often don’t regard the appearance of others.
I would like to remind you that suffering with acne can have profound psychological effects on people such as poor self-esteem, social anxiety and depression. This can have a severe effect on people and has sadly resulted in suicide.
I am writing this post to encourage anybody who may be reading it to try and embrace the skin you are in because. Don’t let something that is experienced by everybody around you have such an impact in your life. Remember that you only have one life… so go and live it.
Stay tuned for an upcoming post about my experience with acne and my top tips on how to keep it at bay.
Thanks for reading everybody!
Until next time,
Note: I would encourage all of you to watch this incredible Youtube video by Em Ford (A.K.A MyPaleSkin) which has demonstrated the bullying experienced by acne sufferers to millions of people!!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWTRwj9t-vU