I’ve been struggling with acne since my early teens. It started on my back, then years later also on my chest and face. And for a long time I felt ashamed and self conscious every time I left the house. Less so because it really bothered me, and more so because that’s how society depicts that we should feel.
When I was in my early teens, the back acne hit me with full force. Covering my skin without an ounce of mercy.
As a young girl, who was already struggling with self esteem and being social… It put even more breaks into my tenacity and motivation to overcome my barriers. What made it even more frustrating, is that I’ve always lived a fairly healthy life. Although maybe not fanatically, but I’ve worked out from a young age and never binged ate. Or consumed junk food on a daily basis, if at all.
From there on out it shaped how I chose my clothes when I went shopping. How I got dressed before I left the house – Always making sure to wear shirts and tank-tops that covered my whole back. I was very shy and quiet about it, making sure to never mention it to anyone who didn’t have to know. Going to the pool or the beach was a whole production, including panicked feelings and dramatic tears… Usually ending with never taking my shirt off, even when I went into the water. It was extremely annoying and irritating, and I hated it. But at least it was relatively easy to conceal and hide from the naked eye.
I’ve used every cream and soap possible, but they were persistent buggers, and wouldn’t leave me. Not until I started taking birth control pills, and they finally let me be.
Having smooth skin again, was like buying a new piece of clothing. It was accompanied by that same feeling of wanting to wear it, and use it all the time, to show it off to the world. A strange and wonderful feeling, to not constantly be conscious of whether or not my back and the ugly pimples that covered it were exposed. It took me a while to stop looking over my shoulder. Because for a moment I forgot that it was over, or to make sure they hadn’t come back.
When I turned 19, right before I was drafted into the Israeli army, I innocently stopped taking the pills. At first it was subtle. A few little pimples and zits on my chest and back, some on my face, but none too noticeable. Then I started my basic training, and from one day to the next it completely covered me. This time though, it wasn’t only on my back. It was on my chest as well, and worst of all – on my face. I’ve never had them so severely on my face before. Perhaps one or two small ones here and there, but never so big and red, never so extreme and disgusting.
And it was again very frustrating, because I was eating healthy and working out. I was drafted as a physical fitness instructor, in a base where the hygiene was pretty great compared to other bases, and the food was fairly healthy. I even bought special soaps and creams, but it made no difference. At one point I was even convinced that it was making it worse. So I stopped using it and tried out every other possible face wash and creams, but to no avail.
Suddenly, the back acne seemed like a walk in the park… Because I couldn’t cover and hide my face so easily with clothes.
I tried make-up, but it was even more of a nightmare. I’ve never liked it and never felt the need for it… And when I finally tried it out to conceal my face, it made me feel like a clown. It just seemed to look worse no matter how much make-up I put on. Not to mention how so uncomfortable and irritating it was to have on. It’s time and energy consuming and expensive, and just felt like such a waste of it all. What’s more, is that I was absolutely terrible at it.
The worst part was the picking and touching, because I couldn’t stop no matter how hard I tried. All the threats of scars and long term consequences, never helped or prevented me from scratching, popping and peeling. My fingers would absentmindedly, on their own accord, find their way to my cheeks and just pick. And then when I would stand in front of a mirror and see those white bumps, I couldn’t fight the urge to pop them… Get rid of them. Only to have them bleeding and oozing for a few good minutes after. Eventually I just stopped looking in the mirror all together.
I went to an army skin doctor who gave me prescriptions to Roaccutane. Which was like a godsend at the time… Especially since I got it for free through the army (and that shit is expensive).
I didn’t care that I was always dry and dehydrated. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t allowed to drink alcohol for half a year (which included my sister’s wedding). And I certainly couldn’t care less about not being able to be in the sun. Or any other side effect for that matter… As long as it got rid of those awful pimples.
Because of the constant touching and picking at my face, there were leftover scars that had faded a little. But not completely cleared from the Roaccutane. I felt better with myself, but it was frustrating to still have those marks. And on my face from all places! I believe that it wouldn’t have bothered me as much, if society hadn’t made it such a big deal. All the focus and constant pressure to be perfect and have perfect skin, it’s intimidating and self deprecating.
What made it worse, is that people had the audacity to actually voice their opinion on the matter, even if it was tactless and none of their business.
They would give me pity-eyes, and comment on how bad my skin is, both before and after the Roaccutane. Especially when I went into pharma shops, the beauty-care workers would always scan and judge my face like the plague, and tell me what terrible skin I have, and that it’s problematic, that I have to work hard to “fix it” and make it better.
And believe me, I’ve tried. Every cream, face wash and mask – I’ve tried them all. And some of them helped a little, mainly to maintain the status quo, so it didn’t get even worse. I even tried Dermarolling and deep chemical peel, both very painful (especially the latter, it was torture). Then when I stopped taking the birth control pill again, (As part of the process, I had to start taking them again. Because apparently it’s very dangerous if I by mistake got pregnant while taking Roaccutane). The pimples came back, not full force like before, but enough to be a pain.
Every woman I know that stopped taking the pill, had a hormone imbalance that caused acne, and with time it passed. So I thought that it would be the same for me. That I would have to suck it up for a few months, and then it would go away.
It didn’t. It’s been just over three years now, and I am still having trouble with acne on my back and face. It is not as severe as it used to be, you can see in the photos that it’s not that bad (at least in comparison to before). But it’s still very frustrating and a nuisance to deal with… Always having to be careful not to touch my face (which I always fail at), and constantly clean it.
The most annoying part of it all, is that I feel the need to be ashamed of it. But I don’t actually care myself. This is who I am, and that is what my face and back look like, it may never get better. And if you ask me what I truly think – I think that it’s okay, I don’t think that it makes me lesser than anyone else. So why should I allow other people to make me feel ashamed of it? Why should I second guess myself at the beach, constantly worry what tank top I’m wearing and if people are looking at my back?
We live in a generation where beauty is everything. We are always judged on how we look and dress. Which pictures we post on Instagram and how many likes we get. I feel so bad for the kids that were born into this… Because they have to grow up with that constant pressure. Of being perfect and having every tiny moment in their lives be documented forever. I really had to dig deep to find pictures of myself from when the severe acne started. And you know what? I think we should stop. Stop listening to all that poison. How do you feel about yourself? If there is something that you don’t like, because you truly feel that way, then go ahead and do whatever you can to change it… But never for anyone else.
We were born the way we were born. Some things cannot be changed. At least not without extreme, sometimes painful, measures.
Lately I’ve been really adamant on not letting anyone else dictate how I feel about myself and what I look like. Because this is how I was born and I can’t change it. And if I constantly think about it and let it upset me, I’m gonna live a miserable life. So what’s the point?
So to all of you people out there I say that no one is perfect. And even the most rich, famous and beautiful people have issues and things they would love to change, but can’t. But I think we should stop allowing everyone around us to tell us how to feel about ourselves. Just live our lives the way we want to.
I know I’m going to finally embrace my scars. They are part of me and they even make me who I am. I refuse to wear make-up and cover them up, and not only because I hate the whole process of it. And I am going to stop thinking twice before taking off my shirt at the beach. Or putting on an open-back or backless shirt.
I think you should do the same. Whether it be cellulite, weight, birthmarks, scars of any kind, stretch marks, your height, the shape of your nose, the colour of your eyes, acne or anything else.
Letting other people bring you down for what you look like, letting it affect the way you feel about yourself, is a waste of energy and time. Because we don’t have much control over it and it won’t make anything any better. So let’s embrace all of our imperfections. Love ourselves in spite of them. And shout out “fuck you world and fuck you anyone who tries to bring us down.”
Trust me, the world would be a much better place once we stop judging, and making others feel bad about things that are out of our control. Once we stop listening to those people and just be happy with who we are. Beauty fades with time anyway – one day we will all be old and wrinkly. I wholeheartedly believe that it’s what’s on the inside that really counts… It may be a cliche, but for good reason, because it is so, so true.
Just be yourself! Let people see the real, imperfect, flawed, quirky, weird, beautiful, magical person that you are.Mandy Hale
don’t let anyone bring you down, and just embrace yourself the way you are.
Michal B. L.
you can check out my Instagram – @mbl.writes for more pics and updates 🙂