Acne: Deeper Than a Blemish

Photographer Peter DeVito wanted to do a body positivity photoshoot that focused on untouched photos. These in particular were inspired by his own struggles with acne. By leaving these photos untouched he wanted to send a message that “Acne is normal.”

Discoloration, bumpy texture, dry, oily, uneven…there’s not one aspect of acne that makes it easy to cover up. Yet, all we want to do when we see an imperfection is try to make it unnoticeable. It’s hard to feel confident in yourself when you can both see and feel where your skin isn’t at its best. If you can’t cover the “flaw,” then your only option is to hide it, right? So you isolate yourself. You decline invitations to go out, cancel plans last minute, lock yourself in the safety of your room…

I get it. I’ve been there. I didn’t go anywhere without a full face of makeup on and even then I felt like all eyes were on me. Not “me” exactly, but the bumps on my face that the loads of foundation and concealer could never fully camouflage. I felt like they were calling people to look at them. It was embarrassing and uncomfortable. I spent a lot of my time at home watching my friends through social media posts enjoy the plans I never made it to. I feared anyone seeing what I thought was my biggest flaw and what they would think. They’d think I was dirty or gross. They’d think I didn’t take care of myself when in reality I was spending every cent I got from my minimum wage job on different face washes, creams, etc. just trying to find something that would work.

I’ll never forget one of the rare times I ever went out without any cover up on. It didn’t happen often and if I did, it was only when I thought my skin looked good (or at least good for what it was). I couldn’t exclude myself from every sleepover. I still liked seeing my friends and staying up all night with them. I deserved a little reprieve every now and then even if it came with some anxiety. However, the comments and questions I feared would come upon them seeing my skin for the way it was never came. That is, until I heard from a mutual friend what had been said without my knowledge.

“I didn’t think it’d be that bad…”

“How does it get like that?”

“Thank god I don’t get acne.”

“Does she even wash her face?”

I felt horrible. I felt beyond frustrated because while they barely got a bump on their nose, I was going through google page after google page of ways to get rid of my blemishes. Toothpaste, turmeric, honey, benzoyl peroxide…You name it, I had it. When each one failed to do what they “promised” to do, I just sunk lower and lower into myself until I shut off.

Dealing with imperfections is hard. We’re told how we’re supposed to be. Not too big, not too skinny, not too tall, not too short, clear skin, perfect teeth…Is there anything that doesn’t have some sort of blueprint? It’s hard enough just trying to be human, but trying to be a perfect one at that is impossible.

We can’t control what we’ve already been given. We can try our best to find a solution, but at the end of the day, our bodies work the way they do because that’s how they’ve been designed. Acne, while seemingly useless, is a way of detoxing our system. It’s similar to how sweat works. Your body is pushing out what is causing an imbalance. Unfortunate, yes, that it has to be in such an inconvenient and painful way, but it is natural. So while this blog will give tips and tricks to help ease some of these symptoms, it’s important to understand and accept that sometimes it won’t be perfect. Sometimes it will be hard and frustrating. It’s going to make you feel down and embarrassed. It will mess with your confidence, your self-esteem, and take away the most important thing you have: your self-love.

It’s important to remind yourself in those times though that whatever imperfection you may find on yourself doesn’t define who you are. Yes, we should love who we are on the outside, but in my opinion it’s far more important to love yourself for who you are on the inside. When we begin to take care of ourselves from the inside out we can often times tell from the outside the changes we have made. This time around I don’t mean what we are putting in our bodies, but what we are telling ourselves. If we look in the mirror and constantly point out what’s not good enough then we’re already setting ourselves up for failure. What you see is what you get. Own it, and if you feel like you can’t?

Fake it till you make it.

I’m sure you’ve heard those words countless times before, but let me tell you, it works. You’ll have intrusive thoughts for the rest of your life. You’ll constantly be battling with insecurities whether your skin clears up or you still get a bump here and there. I still have moments where I see a pimple pop up and I immediately feel like I’m back at that sleepover afraid of what my “friends” will think. It’s part of having the wonderful ability to think and observe. We are our hardest critics, and if for some reason there’s someone out there that that thinks they can judge you better, then that’s their prerogative. Was my acne really that bad? Was it really bothering those girls that much? Was it harming them more than it was harming me? I highly doubt it. At the end of the day, you can’t control what people think or say. If they have something to say about something that has nothing to do with them, let me tell you, I promise it comes from a place of their own insecurity. People can’t seem to fathom how other people can seem so unaffected and confident when they don’t look the way society deems they should.

When those intrusive thoughts come up, acknowledge them. Maybe you don’t like how your skin looks today. So? That’s your skin. That’s natural. Your body is working how it needs to in order to keep you going. Its a bump in the road (pun intended) and it will pass. For the time being, though, do what you can to appreciate and take care of yourself. It’s hard being human, ask anyone. There’s no reason why you should make it harder on yourself. That is the one job you certainly don’t have to do. Love yourself and accept who you are and people will begin to follow you. No one who matters really cares what you look like on the outside. They care about who you are and how you make those around you feel. Your acne is not going to be the thing making other people uncomfortable. So while you take yourself on this journey of healing your skin, just remember that you deserve to be loved and to feel beautiful the entire way through.


  • Kaycee Diel

    I appriciated reading this since I’ve been struggling with Acne since I’ve came to college. I hate that people assume that you don’t wash your face just because you have acne. Just recently in the past 6 months I’ve finally found a face wash routine that has worked on my face. I also agree with the “fake it till you make it” comment you made as well. People who don’t stuggle with acne don’t understand how insecure it makes you feel! I enjoyed reading this.

  • Xiola Schneiderman

    This post was so raw and real and I’m glad that you felt comfortable enough to share your personal experience with acne. So many people would benefit from reading this since it does mess with the self-confidence of most individuals that suffer with acne. It’s funny how judgemental some people can be about acne since it is a skin condition that affects so many people. I do agree with you, people with perfect skin underestimate how it feels to have acne and feel like everyone is always looking at you.

  • Melina Weil

    I really enjoyed how you wrote this blog post. It was very real and honest which is a unique perspective in a blog setting. I think sharing your experience is very beneficial for readers and I appreciate you sharing your journey with acne. I liked reading this and appreciate your blog!

  • Jenna Weinfurt

    Wow, i love the raw honesty and emotion in this post. The picture, first off, is extremely real and provokes thoughts and feelings that im sure so many young adults can relate to. Your tone and voice throughout the entirity of the post was really conversational and motivational for those struggling with acne. You are really helping other young people who struggle with acne here on the more mental health side effects of going through appearance struggles. great stuff here!

  • Prestyn Kloskey

    I love everything about this post. Growing up I had pretty normal skin with random breakouts every once in a while. Over the last year and a half, I have had oily, congested, and breakout-prone skin. I was very self-conscious about it and felt like people were going to judge my appearance. I felt like people were thinking that I didn’t take care of myself anymore. I as I get older I have realized that acne is a normal thing that makes us human. I appreciate this post for making me feel like I am not alone. Great job!

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