You Have More To Offer The World Than Your Acne

By: Brittany Priore         Illustration: Alja Horvat 

Acne is horrible. There is no other way to describe it. Unless you’re comparing it to war, famine, poverty, or disease it doesn’t seem so bad. But take all that (really horrible and serious) stuff away and acne is the worst thing ever. EVER. Trust me, I’ve been dealing with it on and off since I was 16-years-old. Some years, though, it decides to take a break from tormenting me, and my skin is as clear as Kim K’s 20-karat engagement ring. While other years, my skin is atrocious and resembles a pizza with sausage and extra pepperoni on it (pepperoni for the pimples and sausage for the cysts and uneven texture). What? You can’t look at pizza the same way anymore? Whoops!

My acne has seriously taken a toll on me mentally and physically. Mentally it has debilitated me. It has broken me down and brought me to some of my lowest points. It caused me to develop anxiety which lead to panic attacks which then lead to depression which was then accompanied by agoraphobia. I stopped taking care of myself. I didn’t do my hair or put on makeup. I stopped dressing up. Forget about dressing up. I didn’t get out of my pajamas. I didn’t feel a need to take care of myself anymore. What was the point? I was ugly no matter what I did.

I was treated like an outcast. I was treated like I carried the plague. I was treated like I was invisible. So, I felt invisible. It was as if people just looked right past me, like, I didn’t exist. And for those who did notice me, they stared. They stared right at my face without any kind of indiscretion. And let me tell you, it hurt. I was embarrassed. I felt ashamed of myself. I can’t tell you how many times strangers would come up to me with their unsolicited advice on how to take better care of my skin- as if I wasn’t already seeking the help of board certified and licensed professionals, as if I already hadn’t spent over $500 dollars in the course of 3 months going to different Dermatologists and Endocrinologists trying to get a medical explanation as to why this was suddenly happening to me. I get some people were just trying to help- but a little advice for anyone who doesn’t have acne, please don’t feel that it’s appropriate to go up to someone and mention their acne to them when they are probably hoping that no one notices the breakout they woke up with that morning.

It was a terrible time in my life. And I don’t say, “was” as in it’s over and my acne has cleared up. Because it hasn’t, I still have severe hyperpigmentation all over my skin and I still do get cystic acne- although, I have overcome my anxiety, depression, and agoraphobia! Which is honestly the best thing that has ever happened to me. I would rather deal with cystic acne my entire life if it meant I would never experience another panic attack again. And that’s saying a lot because I pray every night for it to go away or at least get better. My skin isn’t as bad as it was last year and that’s due to changes in my diet and the intake of vitamins and supplements (but that’s for another conversation altogether). It has been a long road to self-love but it has been a very informative one too.

Through the years, I never forced myself to go anywhere or to do anything I wasn’t comfortable doing. Even if that meant disappointing friends or family by not showing up for a birthday lunch. I didn’t wear makeup obsessively. In fact, I barely wore makeup at all! To me, wearing makeup was apologizing for what I looked like. To me, wearing makeup was only to make other people comfortable with my appearance or to stop people from staring when I went out in public. Eventually, I stopped being ashamed of my acne because it was a part of me. It wasn’t the Cindy Crawford beauty mark or anything glam like that, but it was a mark that made up my features just as a beauty mark made up Cindy’s features. My point: I had acne and I wasn’t going to apologize for it, I wasn’t going to apologize for being me.

Nothing insulted me more than someone complimenting me when I was wearing a face full of makeup. And that’s because I never heard those compliments from them when I wasn’t wearing makeup. So, to me the compliments were fake. They were complimenting my façade- the filtered version of me.

I braved a bare face wherever I went. The farmers market was scorching, so I went makeup free! Work? Makeup free! The pharmacy where people constantly stopped me to talk about my skin? Makeup free! Girls night? Makeup free! Date nights? Makeup free! I was tired of wearing makeup because I felt like I had to. Once I took control over that, I started to feel strong, I started to feel brave, I started to feel beautiful.

If you’re suffering from acne, eczema, rosacea, or any other kind of skin problem, please don’t feel ugly. Please don’t feel like you need to hide away from the rest of the world. Don’t isolate yourself. Don’t hate yourself. Don’t feel like you are any less of a person. You are so beautiful. And most importantly you are not invisible. I promise people notice you. And it’s not because of your skin, it’s because of the beauty that radiates through your mind, your heart, and your soul.

If someone can’t look past your skin problems, then forget them! Who cares if you meet one jerk who judges you based on your skin. You are smart, you are funny, you can dance, you can cook, you are an artist, you can run a 10-mile marathon, you get straight A’s, you are the first in your family to go to college, you have beautiful eyes, and thick luminous hair, you can play the piano, you write music, you volunteer at your local animal shelter on the weekends, you feed the homeless, you know 7 languages…. You offer the world so much more than you realize. And if you come across a person who decides to judge you because of the way you look, it’s their loss and they were never going to have anything to offer you anyway. You want to meet someone who shares your same values, opinions, and views. You want to meet someone who believes in the message you want to put out into the world. You want to meet someone who wants to change the world. And I promise you, someone who decides to judge you because of what you look like will never be able to offer you or anyone else any of those things.

You can’t change the face you were born with. There is only one you and you have to try and accept yourself as you are. Even if you were perfect, even if you didn’t have acne or whatever issue you are dealing with, people are always going to find something to judge about you. So, let them. Let them judge you. Let them live day to day with that kind of negativity. And you? You go be happy. You go live your life for you, not based on how others perceive you. Because remember, you have more to offer the world than your acne.

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