There are a couple of things that I thought I left in my teenage years; glitter cosmetics, the idea of being friends after a break up and acne. Unfortunately that last one has been lingering with me like a bad breakup.
I can’t drink enough water, cut out enough meat and dairy, try enough skin care regimens, or take enough vitamins and minerals to get rid of it. The persistence of acne into my third decade of life is quite honestly frustrating at times, but I have been at a point of genuine acceptance for many years. That wasn’t always so.
Acne has been part of my life since I turned twelve and had my first period. Every month about a week or two before my period, I got a major breakout. As a young child, it felt like a horrific experience. The looks, the embarrassment and the unsolicited advice on how to treat my acne was very hurtful. It’s almost as if people thought I did not own a mirror.
My self-esteem and confidence took a hit in my teen years with the ebb and flow of my breakouts and hyperpigmentation. It was emotionally taxing, especially when I saw one of my cousins who had a diet of mostly snacks get almost not one breakout. The question was, “Why me?”
I had two major risk factors: a paternal family history of acne and hormones. The writing was on the wall and I was the unlucky person who got acne. As the years went by, as much as I was conscious of my acne, I began to come to the conclusion that acne did not diminish the light in me as a person and my desirability.
Acne helps remind me that who I am is more important than the sum of all my breakouts and hyperpigmentation. I am more than just a face. I am a good person with love, friends, family, goals, hopes and dreams. I want to be remembered as Renata, the girl who creates beautiful art and is good to everyone she encounters. That is the story I want to create.
It has also taught me to look beyond the exterior. Look beyond the physical. I developed a strong sense of empathy for humanity, because I am fully aware of my own hurdles. I understand that a person’s physical attributes is not his or her choice. It is most important to look into who someone is as opposed to what he or she looks like. There is more value in that.
In spite of acne, I had an amazing first boyfriend in my teens. He was handsome, and adorable and in spite of my struggle with acne, he saw me. There were times I felt insecure, thinking he would leave me for a more attractive girl. That never happened. We split due to distance, but not for my lack of clear skin. Having that kind of love and acceptance went a long way into letting me know that I am desirable and gave me added confidence within my future relationships. So I guess, thank you to my ex.
I had and continue to have a great circle of friends. There were four of us who were friends since high school. We all still talk to this day. I formed and continue to create great bonds with people in my life. What I lack in numbers, I possess in quality. Over twenty years later, we are still friends. Not a single person cared about my acne. Never treated me poorly, because of it, and here we are many moons later, still looking out for each other. Acne what?
True beauty comes from the inside out. Growing up, I heard this song, Pretty Face and Bad Character and as much as it was fun to dance to, it reminded me that external beauty does not translate to good human. I know no acne is equated with someone who has taken great care of their skin, but it could simply be genetics. It’s the same as our culture equating a heavier person as someone who lacks self control, when it is simply that every individual has a different body profile.
Having acne once made me feel that I hated occupying this body, but boy have times changed. Gone are are the days I wore a full face of make up to go to the corner store. I go outside bare faced and beautiful, and have been doing so for almost a decade, because I quite honestly just came to the conclusion that I love me and I love this face. No one and nothing in this world will change that. And if other people don’t like it, they’re free to look away.