This week I wanted to focus on scars and the stories that they tell. From my perspective I have a lot of scars, most notably on my face. My scars tell of the battle of 10 years or so of cystic hormonal acne. I have just recently turned 22 and over the last few months I have been trying to be more accepting ofmy scars. My acne has really calmed down from what it used to be with small outbreaks now and again, which compared to how my face use to be is a lot easier to deal with. The scars are a lasting effect. I know some of the will fade over time but I also know that I will never have that ‘clear’ and ‘flawless’ skin that I have dreamed of having. I have accepted that and also realised that if I only ever find my happiness in a socially constructed ideal of beauty then I am never going to be happy.
My scars remind me of how far I have come. Acne did not only affect my face. It affected my body physically and mentally. Due to my acne not being something that I could control, I learnt to have control over other aspects of my life most significantly my weight. It also affected my mentality on how I saw myself and how I interacted with other people. I spoke incredibly negatively about myself because I felt like I wasn’t allowed to accept myself because I did not fit to a certain standard. Being the older sister I did not really set a good example of loving yourself because I could not love myself. My mindset has got a lot better over the past year, with low moments from time to time. It is all a process and it is all about growing in acceptance too.
It seems crazy that my life has been so controlled due to having acne . Growing up people were not always so accepting and some people were so damn cruel with what they said. One of the cruellest ways that people treat people is with their words. If you look online at some of the videos people have made who have dealt with criticism due to having acne it is so disheartening. To call someone disgusting or ugly because they do not have flawless skin is just unbelievable but some people believe it is their right. If people would actually take time to think about how that person feels who is dealing with it. First and foremost cystic acne is incredibly painful even to touch the skin to treat it can be agony. Secondly, that person knows that people can see it. It does not need to be pointed out to them. Also the staring, what it with that? People with acne are not dirty, most of the time a lot of money and time is spent in trying to treat it.
It can be a dark path that acne suffers can go down to treat their acne. I mean a lot of the tablets that are given can treat to an extent but also can cause lasting effects internally. I was on tablets for seven years without any real change, some of them did make me ill. I missed quite few school days, not that I would complain too much. The major issue is that when I was taking all these tablets, half the time I had no idea what was in them. I stopped taking them, I didn’t want to keep pumping my body with goodness knows what, to just have perfect skin. I learnt that dairy was not beneficial for my skin so I found alternatives. I also found that water based products and a good face mask was more beneficial for my skin, as it is too sensitive to a lot of the acne products out there. My skin has healed slowly but it is so much better than what it has ever been.
Sometimes we need a reality check on why we do things. Is it actually for our benefit or it is more for the benefit of others to be accepted? I am not against getting treatment whether that be pharmaceutical or herbal. However, if you are just using products/treatments to be accepted, then you are not being fair on yourself. For example when I was going off to university I did not want to be known/defined as the girl with hormonal acne. I decided to use this high end brand to get rid of it, only for it to inflame my acne and burn my skin. Instead of going to uni with flawless skin I went with really red, bumpy and painful acne. It was a massive fail but it was also a really important lesson, to be careful with not only what I used on my face, but, also what I allowing myself to be defined by. Some of the friends I made uni were some of the most encouraging and loving people I have ever met. Who would allow me to be who I was and my acne was not even in that equation. To them it did not matter because their friendship was based more on beauty.
In this society it is crazy what people do to fit in. I mean you only have to look at YouTube. In reality we forget how important it is to be an individual. I am currently reading Megan Jayne Crabbe’s ‘Body Positive Power’. She looked statistically at how many women fit the ideal body type and it only came to 5%of women. I think we can waste a lot of time worrying about looking and being a certain way instead of pursuing what we truly love. I know this is a truth about my life and something that I endeavour to change on a daily basis.
In some cases, having acne does not allow that person to accept themselves. They see themselves as ugly, disgusting and any other word they can use to disfigure themselves. If you have a friend or family member who is really struggling with acne or another insecurity, keep speaking love and life into them. Like all things, there needs to come a time of acceptance. If that person knows they are loved for who they are and are known for what they do, focus comes off of that insecurity and begins to be put into a greater purpose.
I just wanted to finish with some of things I wished I knew/understood when I was younger…
- Insecurities do not define you. They are a part of you whether that be short term or long term. Do not belittle yourself. You are a strong and talented individual, find purpose in that.
- Just because society says you have to look a certain way. Does not mean you have to. There are so many young men/women who are taking a stand and being confident with their individuality. Choose to find inspiration through them. Not through the artificial, airbrushed type of role model that we have been told to fit in with for so long. It is not real, beauty is found in everyone through their own individuality. I really wish more women/men had been role models when I was in my teenage years but it is with the spread of social media that this has become more. One woman who has been an inspiration from by early teenage years has been Bubzbeauty, she is so inspirational and beautiful inside and out.
- Do be careful with what you use to cover up/remove your insecurities. Make sure you are comfortable with it. For example, just because it is an acne product does not necessarily mean it will work for your skin. All our skins are different. Take your time to discover what works best for you and do not rush the process.
- Wear make-up or do not wear make-up it does not matter. Do what makes you happy and confident. People will have their opinions but as long as you are happy find your contentment in that.
- Smile more. Stop speaking harsh words to yourself. Which I know is not easy to get out of the frame of mind of doing. You are so beautiful regardless of if you meet beauty standards or not. You have this one life. Do not wish it away, wanting to be someone else. Be your own unique self, it will take time but self-love is a process with a beautiful outcome.
Be encouraged that you are never alone. Life can be a struggle and people can be cruel. However, there is so much beauty in the world and there are so many incredibly awesome people in this world too. Don’t allow society to dictate who you are meant to be because society speaks for a small few. You are awesome and beautiful. So own it.