I should be sleeping. I know I should take my butt to sleep. I won’t wake up for my 9 AM class if I don’t sleep now.
But there I was, like every other night, googling ways to torture myself before I close my eyes.
I’m searching for the cure to acne and hyperpigmentation. This disease/disfigurement that’s plagued my existence since I was 9.
Searching for articles that can help me cope with my appearance.
“I feel ugly”, “feeling ugly”, “coping with ugly feelings”, “I hate myself”, “hating my appearance”, “body dysmorphia”, all in my search history.
My partner’s sleeping soundly next to me so I sneak to mentally hurt myself. I scroll through my camera roll and critique my pictures to shreds. My forehead, eyes, lips, nose, cheeks, breasts, stomach nothing is off limits. I private my Instagram page. If I can’t stand to look at myself, strangers don’t want to see me either.
Pretty girls deserve an audience, not you.
Growing up I wasn’t heavily teased for my acne. At least not in the way society televises bullying today. There were the occasional “You need ProActiv” comments here and there. Those hurt. But still, I pretended to be stronger than I actually was.
What actually hurt me more was silent rejection. The pity. What my school crushes didn’t want to admit, but what we both knew. They were ashamed to like me because of my looks. They rather dated me in secret. Maybe out of pity. Maybe my personality won ’em over. I know I was charming. I could charm the skin off of a snake. But by society’s standards, by my standards, I looked hideous. It wasn’t cool to like the girl with blemishes in middle school. And it still wasn’t cool in high school. We’d date for a month tops before my crush moved on to a girl without acne. A girl prettier than me.
Why are you crying? You deserve this. You knew this would happen. You’re ugly. She’s pretty. You can’t blame him for liking her more than you.
I held onto those feelings for most of my life.
Now in my 20s, I’m in a loving relationship with a man who calls me beautiful and sexy with or without makeup.
But still, it’s hard for me to wrap my head around his or anyone’s compliments. Especially when I’m not wearing makeup. “Pretty”, “beautiful”, “gorgeous” describe everyone else, BUT myself.
He’s blinded by love. Of course he’s going to call you pretty.
It’s like “having a face only a mother could love”. Of course, your loved ones think you’re beautiful.
It was a year into our relationship before I finally let my boyfriend see me without makeup. I always wore concealer to bed. I’d wash off my full beat at night, just to spot treat my dark spots with concealer and climb back into bed. Those nights I’d pray that the concealer could somehow absorb into my face overnight and become my actual skin.
He never knew.
The moment I decided to let my boyfriend see me without makeup was a big deal for me. I stepped into a counselor’s office for the first time and cried to a foreign white man that I was worried my boyfriend wouldn’t like me after he saw the real me without makeup. That it’d be like experiencing elementary school all over again. And I mean, ugly cried.
I’m a monster underneath this makeup.
The counselor did the best he could. I did the homework he assigned, but ultimately, I still felt “broken”. Talking to a professional didn’t immediately “fix” me. It was up to me to fix myself.
That day, I burned all the skin off my face with an at-home chemical peel. My attempt to literally shed the skin I was in. I was desperate. I stocked up on all the groceries I would need, applied the chemical with a cotton swab, and kept the acid on for a little longer than I should. The more burnt, the better. After one minute, my face was on fire. I ran around my room for about 5 more minutes to mask my pain.
After that, I stayed inside for a week, not wanting to shock strangers with my appearance. I truly looked like a burn victim. But by the time my boyfriend saw me again, that second week, my skin had drastically improved. You would have never known I was a burn victim the week prior.
It’s only recently I told my boyfriend the story I’m sharing with you now. The crazy part? I’m thinking about doing it again.
Nowadays, my skin is in a far more terrible state than that first year into our relationship. I can’t shake this feeling that I’ve catfished my boyfriend into loving me. I feel terrible that he wakes up to see someone who looks like me in the morning and not one of those girls who wake up flawless. How could he love me and I can’t?
I’ve catfished my audience. “Pretty girls deserve an audience, not you”.
If they were to see the real you, you’d have nobody.
Most days I don’t want to see people. I don’t want to get out of bed.
I cancel plans not because I don’t want to go, but because I’m having an “ugly” day.
Sports, beaches, spas, any activity that requires a naked face is hard to attend.
And sometimes…I think my acne is a punishment.
Maybe if I build a stronger relationship with God, He’ll clear my acne.
As much as I want to avoid mirrors, how else will I get ready for class in the mornings?
You have responsibilities. You can’t stay locked up in your room forever.
So I wake up in the morning after a night of self hate, do my usual morning routine, and finally confront my bare face in the mirror.
Nothing’s changed. “Still ugly today”. I’m lucky if I haven’t grown a second forehead, a third nostril, a third cheek, or a double chin overnight.
It’s hard enough to be a black woman. We don’t get the same opportunities as others; Our skin color alone makes people uncomfortable. And in such a vain society, blemished skin just makes it worse. I’m battling the skin that I’m in. And I want to start sharing that part of myself with anyone who wants to read or listen.
Share this post with your friends or followers. Leave your story below. Do whatever moves you.Battling The Skin I'm In - Acne Journey Click To Tweet
Until next time…