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Why I've Decided to Embrace my Acne

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By Jacklyn Gilmor

In virtually every coming-of-age movie, along with the Queen Bee and the Hot Jock, there is a stereotypical ‘Loser’ with a blotchy, pimple-spotted face. This character is usually viewed as gross and untouchable, unattractive and unimportant. They may even be nerdy, which makes them even more of a target for the casual insults tossed around by the glowing, clear-faced popular characters.

I always felt a little like that character.

I’ve had inflammatory acne for almost ten years–since grade four–and I’m now nineteen. It’s not showing any signs of clearing.

I used to hate my face

I used to look at my face in the mirror and cringe. I would pick at it and pull at the skin because I just wanted to get rid of it, and I hated how my face was a sea of red bumps. Was I ugly? Was I that loser in the movies that everyone thought was gross and untouchable?

It was awful. I had (and still have) every kind of pimple under the sun: blackheads scattered across my cheeks and nose, whiteheads rising under my cheekbones, painful red bumps on my jawline, scars littering my forehead and chin… I thought there was no way I could be considered pretty with all that tainting my features.

I’ve tried virtually everything: creams and exfoliants and face washes galore. I’ve used coconut oil. I wash my face twice a day. But it seems to be a hormonal problem, so I don’t think there’s anything I can do about it. In my high school years I discovered makeup, and although it didn’t completely hide the fact that I had acne, it did a decent job of making it look less red and–as I saw it–made me appear more attractive.

I thought if I just wore the foundation and concealer, I’d be halfway normal, and no one would ever have to see the hideous marks in their full, painful glory. I couldn’t leave the house without a full face of makeup.

Plot Twist

I am beautiful.

At some point, I realized that my acne was here to stay, and I decided to change my perspective. It wasn’t really an exact point in time, but more of a process wherein I decided that I wasn’t going to be ashamed of something that was a part of me, that I couldn’t change. I began to look in the mirror and focus on the features that I liked instead of allowing myself to see only what I hated. Exhibit A: my eyes. I’ve always thought I had nice eyes, big and framed with long lashes. So I put on some mascara and strutted my stuff. Exhibit B: my smile. Sometimes I smile too much, but it’s okay; I decided I had a nice set of teeth and a happy grin, so maybe I should smile more often. I was more than the series of pimples that dots my face, and I needed to realize that. After a while, I noticed that others saw that too. I’d catch a cute guy looking at me when I wasn’t wearing any makeup sometimes, or I’d get someone I just met telling me I looked pretty.

A Newfound Confidence

So some days, I don’t even wear makeup. None. No mascara, and especially no concealer on my pimples and scars. Surprisingly, I find that I feel more confident without it, because if I can bare my true face, acne scars and all, to the world, then I can do anything.

I went down to my university’s cafeteria the other day, having been in my room all afternoon working on an assignment. I had my hair in a messy bun, my glasses on instead of contacts, and definitely no makeup. As I stood in front of the glass partition to the kitchen, deciding between empanadas and stir fry ("be healthy," I was telling myself, but the empanadas looked SO good), the older lady serving me smiled. She had the sweetest eyes. “I wish I still looked like you,” she said. “You have a beautiful young face.” Her words almost brought me to tears. Even though I had decided that I could go bare-faced in public, I still have moments of self-consciousness. I still go through periods where I get an especially nasty breakout and doubt my own attractiveness. But that one little compliment changed my day. I was reminded again that I am more than my skin condition, that I have so many parts of myself to be proud of.

It’s a Part of You

Acne isn’t something to be ashamed of. It doesn’t make people cringe away from you, and certainly doesn’t make you ugly. It’s a battle you go through sometimes, and it makes you tough. So when you’re scrubbing away in frustration with that hundredth bottle of face wash that’s supposed to do wonders, remember this: you are gorgeous. Your acne does not define you, it is simply a part of you, and you notice it more than anyone else. 

To sum it up: you are tough, you are unique, and you are beautiful. And maybe you have acne. Accept it, and embrace it, because your life will be so much better for it. Believe me, I know.


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