School corridors - breeding grounds for torment, humiliation and devastation. Unlike a playground or yard, where it’s somewhat easier to make a quick U-turn, the necessary journey from A to B becomes a nervous scuttle. Head down. Shoulders likewise. Zero eye contact.
For the best part of my secondary education this is how each day would pan out. The trials and tribulations of adolescence, particularly in school, greet us in varying forms, whether it’s testing the patience of those who claim to know best, not to be questioned because they’re “older and therefore wiser”, relationship break ups and make ups, or the universal desire for acceptance. This acceptance is often accredited on a superficial basis that is unforgiving to those with less fortunate skin. Judgement cast at face value.
One of the biggest misconceptions about acne is that it is caused purely by poor hygiene. While it is true that not washing your face can produce spots, in the case of many, the issue is more deep rooted and requires a course of topical creams, antibiotics or prescription drugs to clear. Those who suffer with problem skin are also unfairly labelled as struggling with a condition that is purely superficial, cosmetic, a waste of doctors’ time, and something that you should just accept. This couldn’t be further from the truth.Of course, I can only speak from personal experience.
Having been born with baby acne, it seems my fate was already sealed. By around eight/nine years old I was developing the typical skin of a child five years my senior, and this only became worse as time went on. Cleansing wipes, washes, creams, pore strips, skin peels, masks, antibiotics, diets, herbal supplements - you name it I tried it. It goes without saying that being bullied about your skin, about your face, the part of your body that can’t be covered and hidden as easily as you might like, would seriously affect anyone’s confidence.
In this case, the happy ending to my story arrived in the form of Isotretinoin (Roaccutane). Yes, there are side effects - the majority fairly standard, but others more severe, making the drug less appealing to many, myself included. Without wanting to draw this into a Roaccutane sales pitch, I cannot recommend this more to anyone with problematic skin. Seriously. Have a little read, speak to a dermatologist, and don’t be frightened by any horror stories. It is very frustrating to see someone battling with problematic skin, without knowing that there is such a brilliant potential cure for it. To approach a stranger and interrogate them on their skin is not something I’d have appreciated that’s for sure, however I would hope that in sharing my experience, I have reached out to those of you feeling utterly helpless.
There’s nothing cowardly or vain about seeking treatment for skin conditions - whatever they may be, no matter how big or small they may seem. Loving the skin you’re in doesn’t mean bearing the pain of unruly cysts. To love, accept and be confident in yourself, comes from knowing you’re trying to be the healthiest, best and most twinkly version of yourself - regardless of what form that takes.
Check out beauty blogger Em Ford's (@mypaleskinblog) video on the abuse she received for her acne.