Confession: I have acne.
I’ve had it since I was fourteen, and it hasn’t really gone away since. Acne is a fascinating topic because it is predominantly overlooked when discussing body image. This is probably because acne is seen as transient, something that happens when you’re a teenager and goes away as you get older. Even though having acne increases depression and suicidal attempts. But unlike some other beauty standard fallacies (like strict body type standards), lots of normal men and women have clear skin too. So with acne, comes the “Why me?” question.
Acne is predominantly genetic, but the myths surrounding acne, particularly the idea that diet links to acne, can make it difficult to transition into a healthier state of mind. This isn’t to say that you can’t control your acne to some extent; not picking your face, pulling your hair back, and regularly washing your pillow sheets can do wonders in meditating acne breakouts. But I’m also an advocate for not living in the future – meaning, don’t wait until you have something before you can let yourself be happy. There’s no reason to wait to have clear skin, before you can be healthy and whole.
But the skin care industry is a multibillion dollar operation, averaging at 43 billion dollars in the US, for a reason. The skin care industry offers hundreds of different methods and antidotes to the acne dilemma. And just by typing “acne” into a search, you’ll get millions of hits from teens and young adults looking for ways to clear their skin, or express acne harassment from peers.
Everywhere companies like ProActiv and Neutrogena who use young, white, women to show how happy they are washing their face, and having clean skin – it seems like a call to arms. Add the fact that unlike other body image problems, acne is something that still manages to skip some women and men. Again – the “why me?” presents itself.
Problems are compounded when real life starts to sink in. Such as yesterday, my grandmother told me how bad my skin looked, how many break-outs I had. I break-out every day, but she said that this time it was worse. I wanted to die; I’ve been using Biore scrub and cleanser for over two months now and my skin still wasn’t improving?
Today, I looked at my Biore and wondered if I should throw it out. When I go to the store, I hover in the skin care section, wondering what regiment I can use to finally get rid of my scars, my pimples, my painful cysts. But, it seems like money down the drain. Wouldn’t I be better off not worrying about it at all? If acne is based on genetics, I might never have clear skin. And is that really the worse thing to ever happen to me?
By and large, I definitely think acne acceptance needs more discussion. It’s a problem that goes unaddressed, and is easily dismissed by pretty much everyone. Which is, of course, insanely problematic.
Do you have acne? Were you or your friends/family ever teased about it?
How do you handle your acne now?