A subject that sits really personally with me is skin. I never struggled more than anyone else my age with my skin, until I hit eighteen. That in itself was really difficult to deal with because I was becoming a woman and as everyone else’s teenage skin was clearing up, mine was getting worse.
I had never really understood the American phrase ‘pizza face’ until I realised I had one: so many spots that you couldn’t see where one stopped and another one started. I was absolutely covered and as my skin was becoming less and less visible, so was my self-esteem.
I would never leave the house without make up on, not even to take the bin out. Problem was, the more make up you wear, the worse the acne gets. The worse it gets, the more you want to put on: its a vicious circle. You can see from this photo below how much make up I would wear and it still wouldn’t hide it.
I remember I was studying for my A Levels so I was in the house a lot and took it as an opportunity to not wear make-up in an attempt to let my skin breath. This was when I realised how my life had changed: I wouldn’t answer the door to anyone (not even the postman); if someone came round I would sprint upstairs and avoid seeing them; every time I walked past a mirror, my stomach would drop with despair.
When I was searching for pictures of my skin without make up on, I noticed I had managed to delete pretty much all of them. But I did find this picture below which shows some of the extent of the acne. I feel like this picture says a lot about the way I was feeling back then: I see a deep sadness in my face and generally a very unhappy, unhealthy person.
It didn’t help with bullies at school calling me names and seeking me out on Facebook to send me abusive messages: as if my self-esteem wasn’t being torn at enough, some girls just had to pick up some scissors and help.
I’d been on numerous medication which hadn’t worked so I went to see a specialist. After trying laser treatment and failing, it was time for the last resort: Roaccutane. The reason I say last resort is that it is only used in extremely severe cases as it has some awful side effects.
One that I really struggled with was dry skin. Now, I’m not talking a little flaky patch that’s a bit irritating: I’m talking my whole entire body covered in skin that was falling off. I would have to moisturise 3 times a day and that wasn’t even enough. I would scratch my skin till it was red raw and bleeding. However, the only plus side to this was that my hair would NEVER get greasy (this is the only part I miss – saved so much money on dry shampoo!)
Another con that turned into a pro was the fact that it makes your cholesterol shoot up. This is what kick started a healthy eating lifestyle: I had to reinvent my diet as my health was at risk during this time and its kind of just stuck since.
And the best side effect of all? MY ACNE WAS GONE! Whilst this was a dream come true, I then faced another battle: scars. At the time, it seemed minor because my pizza face was no more. But was I now Crater Face?
Above is my face now with my acne scars. It’s funny because for a while, they didn’t bother me; I was just so happy for the acne to be gone that scars seemed a small price to pay. But as I’ve left the spotty teenage years and am now a woman, they bother me more. I suppose it’s a reminder of those dark times and I just feel like a different person now – like they don’t belong to me.
But I then just have to take a step back and reflect on this. Okay, I have scars. But the tough times you go through shape you into the person you are today. If I hadn’t experienced these times, I wouldn’t feel the accomplishment I feel today of how much my confidence has grown. Some marks on my face doesn’t define me as a person; they are just marks from a journey I’ve been on. The deepest scars are the ones you can’t see: those girls that bullied me did more damage than the acne did. I might have scars on my face but the ones those girls have left are much more painful.
I guess my point is, before you put someone down in an attempt to make yourself feel better, please think twice. You don’t know the long term effect it will have on that person: once you’ve said it, you can’t take it back. And if someone ever says something negative about you to you, it’s usually because they are insecure in themselves – remember this. I would much rather live with scars on my face than with the guilt of making someone feel the way those girls made me feel.
What you say about other people is more of a reflection on yourself.