The amount of beauty tips I am bombarded with through Facebook and other social media is staggering. And as someone whose acne never went away after puberty, this continuous stream never ceases to give me false hope of finding a miracle cure to make it all just maybe, one day, finally disappear.
However, it suddenly occurred to be that there is something missing in this discussion of acne. I could go on for days and describe to you the various products I have used, what worked, what didn’t work. I could go over with you my daily skin care routine. I could go on FOREVER about how much I wish my acne would just finally go away. That is all incredibly easy to discuss. What’s not easy to discuss is what my acne has taught me. Don’t get me wrong, I do not enjoy my acne, but nevertheless it has taught me things I would have otherwise maybe never learned.
(1) Acne redirects what I value in myself.
If I’ve learned anything from my acne is that there are definitely some days that I look in the mirror and wish I could just take my entire skin off. Anything to just get rid of the bumps, scars and other undesirables. But guess what? I can’t take off my skin, and I have to face the world as is. On days like this I focus on the other aspects of myself that acne can’t touch. Acne doesn’t cause bumps on my intelligence. Acne doesn’t create scars on my personality. Acne, if anything, makes me a sassier, funnier person. Acne has enabled me to focus my energy and attention on other, arguably more important, aspects of myself.
(2) Acne has made me recognize my faults and embrace them.
When you have acne, it is very easy to think that everyone else will stare at the newest BIG, RED bump right smack in the middle of your forehead. The truth is that, yes, people will notice. Let’s be honest, it’s sometimes hard not to notice. Will people ultimately really care? Not especially. They will notice, and they will then move on. However, in order to fight the anxiety demons induced by acne, I have found that pointing out the existence of my acne is liberating. Now I don’t want to suggest that acne is a fault, because it isn’t. Nonetheless, society indoctrinates us to believe that acne blemishes our physical beauty, and is therefore a fault. But we can use this opportunity to WEAR our faults. We are already forced to wear one: acne. Might as well learn to wear the other ones. By learning to wear them, instead of hoping no one will notice, you give yourself agency. You give yourself the agency to gain the confidence that comes with recognizing and embracing your faults.
(3) Fuck #BareFace.
Now I wear my face bare. I have given up on trying to hide my facial imperfections. I do not have the time, nor the volition to do so. I pass no judgments on those who opt for using makeup. It is your face! Do with it what you will. The only time I pass judgment is when I see #BareFace and am then subjected to these amazingly perfect images of beautiful, CLEAR skin. I’m sorry, that is not what #BareFace should be. Go outside, into the real world, and look at actual people. A bare face, regardless of whether you currently have acne or not, will not be perfectly clear. There will be scars. There will be bumps. There will be moles. There will be hair. There will be pores. There will be dark circles under the eyes. Let us not forget that the skin is the largest organ of the human body. Presenting it as a perfectly clear surface does not do it justice.
This leads me to my shout out. Shout out to all those people who go bare face and have scars, have acne, have marks on their facial skin. Any sign that they have lived and are living. That’s what your skin is supposed to look like. Those are the people I respect, and those are the people who give me confidence to continue wearing my face bare. Not this #BareFace movement pushed by the beauty industry that still calls for a perfection that only exists behind the lens of photoshop.
Wear your acne. Wear it proud. Do what works for you. Be the real #BareFace or be #Makeup. Always remember there is a positive side to everything.