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The Lies We Are Told

My journey of having acne

By John EvaPublished 2 years ago Updated 2 years ago 5 min read
Top Story - February 2022
One of the few pictures of me from before I had acne. Circa 9th grade.

"It'll go away"

"It's not that bad"

"You'll have great skin when you're older"

These are just a handful of the lies that I was told about my acne growing up. It didn't go away. It was that bad. I'm older now, and guess what, I don't have great skin.

I'm sure the intentions were good by the people who said it, but it made it hurt worse when they turned out to be untrue.

My journey with acne has been probably like most that suffer from the condition.

How it started

Even in black and white my acne is apparent.

I started getting pimples when I was in 10th grade. And I never stopped. Sometimes cystic, sometimes not, but always painful. I hated my mirror. I wished on more than one occasion that I could tear my face completely off.

A lot of people say they tried everything. With people who suffer from acne they usually mean it. ProActiv, Clearasil, Murad - Any mixture of Benzoyl Peroxide, and Salacylic acid. Accutane, hormone pills, name it.

But John what about your diet, you know acne is caused from your diet right? Yeah, I have google too. I cut out dairy, I cut out many grains, I was on a strict diet of water, grilled chicken and vegetables. You know what it didn't solve? My acne.

I tried to cover my forehead at the time with hair. Bad idea I know

I'm over it now, but it used to make me furious to see the likes of Justin Bieber and Jessica Simpson doing commercials for Proactiv like they weren't chosen by Hollywood for their looks and clear skin. It would frustrate me so much to see people on these acne commercials who would go from having 1 zit to having 0 zits.

Oh, but people would still come by with "have you tried?" The answer is 'most likely' from Sangre de Drago, to amazon clay masks, from Witch Hazel to rubbing potato slices on my face. From rubbing ice cubes, to expensive pills, the cost of acne treatment by the time I was out of high school exceeded 10,000.00$

Senior year. The photographer said she couldn't edit the acne anymore or we'd lose definition on my face

Where it went

I had to act like it didn't hurt when she asked "why does your face look like that"

My confidence was shot. I seemed to get a break when I hit my mid 20s. I would still get acne mind you, but it didn't completely ravage every part of my face like it used to.

What was terribly frustrating was getting rid of the acne only to have the bleak reminder stay on my face. For anyone that's ever had cystic acne you know that even once the acne disappears the scars remain. Deep pits reminding you that you can never be whole.

John aren't you being dramatic? No. You try it. Try living your whole life wondering what it would look like if you could see your face, your real face? Every time someone laughs you think it might be at you. Every time someone talks about eating pizza you have to think about what it might do to your skin. Every time you have a crush on someone the pain in your face reminds you that they see this mess of red and white all over your face.

Your friends will tell you that they don't even see the scars anymore. Anymore. Right, but at first they did. They did at first which means that everyone that is going to see you for the first time will see them. And they'll look at you, and you know exactly where they're looking. The new zit. The new black head. Blessed are the moments where we would forget what we look like for a bit.

I hate looking at this picture in particular

When I got scars I went back through the routine of trying everything. Masks, Potato peels, exfoliation, a skincare regimen of varying moisturizers and sunscreen (really though acne or not, you should probably wear sunscreen) micro needling and microdermabrasion. Everything short of skin grafting and laser removal.

I started exercising and built my body so that I could be proud of some parts in the mirror. I wore nice clothes to distract from the thing I called a face. Hours spent wishing I could use makeup to cover it up but knowing that it would only make things inevitably worse. I still work out, but it hurts when someone says "you look better with your shirt off" because they mean it as a compliment, but all I can think of is "you look better when I can look at something besides your face"

I've since lost these muscles, lol."What muscles?"

Where it is

I'm 29 now, if I could grow facial hair I would, but my body denies me that too. My acne has gotten better over the years. I won't act like it hasn't, but I have wrinkles now too. I didn't get those years where I was able to smile in the mirror, and I don't get to now either. I still have scarring, and the icing on the cake is this: I still get acne!

This new acne is neat because it's on my neck instead of my face. Big hurting pimples and when they disappear they leave new scars, because apparently my body has decided that it's not satisfied with leaving a path of low self confidence on just my face.

John, you look fine! Yeah, I'm sure. You saying it and me believing it are two different things. And I suppose I would believe you, if I ever saw ONE TIME, a movie starring someone with acne. It's why I love Ryan Reynold's deadpool, because even though it's not acne he's got messed up skin and scarring, but you know what? Even the world wants to see him wear a mask.

Name one time where the girl falls for a guy that has acne though. Now I've seen the girl that falls in love with the geek, with the overweight guy, with the loser, with the fraud, with the criminal. But a guy who's got acne? Unloveable.

I'm learning to live with it. I'm learning to have confidence. It's a slow process. I don't look in the mirror as much anymore. My goal is to love my face for all of its flaws.

Taken this morning, with generous lighting.

I'm not there yet, but I have hope.

Not that I'll ever be rid of my acne of course.

But that I'll look in the mirror one of these days and smile.


About the Creator

John Eva

I just like writing.

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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  1. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

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Comments (2)

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  • Caitlin Nightingaleabout a year ago

    enjoyed this one

  • Holly Moeller2 years ago

    Really love this article. It's very moving and you take the reader along on your journey in such a wonderful way. You also make it easy for people to relate to the wider issue of body image while staying true to your own story. Thank you for sharing!

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