Can body positivity save me from hating my skin?
I can think of lots of reasons to love my body. It gets me where I want to go; it craves, eats and turns food into energy for me; it is constantly working to keep me alive and well. I don’t always feel loving toward my body when I look in the mirror but the thoughts are there, behind my insecurities. I preach body love and acceptance to others, and most of the time, I believe it myself.
Then I break out in acne. Without fail, every time I think my skin is calming down, it acts like an unruly child I never agreed to babysit and does the opposite. I tip-toe around my acne, trying not to touch it but constantly checking on it to see if it’s still there. I spoil it with expensive masks and washes and lotions. I try to fix it with prescriptions. But my skin always finds a way to throw a tantrum at the worst time.
The pressure to have perfect skin is real. At 23-years-old, I already feel too old to have pimples. I was convinced that the moment I graduated high school my skin would clear up and was sorely disappointed when I continued to struggle with acne through undergrad and now graduate school. I have gotten better at dealing with my breakouts, but acne continues to negatively affect my self-esteem and body image.
In these moments of frustration, I find myself searching for the body positivity I apply to my cellulite and tummy rolls. I am so accustomed to conversations about how to fix my acne that I’d almost forgotten that not all flaws can be fixed. It’s possible that this is just my skin. Just like some are born to have freckles, or sunburn easily, I was born to break out.
Loving my skin does not mean I have to love my acne. Instead, I vow to accept it as a part of me: a frustrating, hormonal, painful part of me that has ultimately made me stronger, more diligent and has allowed me to see past the blemishes of others. (Seriously though, the only people who comment on other’s acne are the ones who don’t struggle with it). I used to cry when my skin was brought up in conversation, now I speak openly about my acne with friends, family and doctors. I have become a more accepting person through struggling with imperfections, and it has allowed me to understand the unattainability of our beauty ideals. I can empathize with anyone who feels the need to put on makeup to feel beautiful because some days it’s the only way I do. I am fighting to see past my own pimples in the mirror and slowly but surely, I win more fights than I lose. I have an incredibly thorough skin care regime that also acts as daily self-care. I didn’t ask for the face of a pre-teen, but I’m a pretty good babysitter.