What it feels like to have acne

Everyone gets a pimple once in a while, I know that, and everyone has their own issues and insecurities, I know that

But I feel so alone when I look around the room and everyone has skin like porcelain and I'm stuck here with a pizza face that's oily and pink and looks like a million bullets has been shot through it

And the people are so cruel sometimes I just want to hide in a corner, and never come out, and I don't know how they don't know how they are cruel when they say things like my skin looks angry, MY SKIN LOOKS ANGRY, if I wash my face, why did this happen, it's bad for girls especially to have acne

But it's even worse when they don't say a thing at all, they just look at me and they frown and their eyes are so full of pity and disgust that I don't know how to respond, should I smile and start talking to try to distract them, should I say nothing and remind myself that they have flaws too, like that tummy roll or those wrinkles, or should I just walk away and quit school and volunteering and life

When people know that you are vulnerable, when they can see exactly what breaks you inside every day when you look in the mirror, something remarkable happens. People gain power over you, they control you they can kill who you are inside or who you once thought you were. They turn from friendly to condescending and superior and suddenly they ignore what you say and don't laugh at the same jokes you've always made

So I cover it up but it seems to only deepen my fear, not to mention make my acne even worse because now my skin is clogged every day, even if it is noncomodegenic, everyone knows that makeup is like a drug, it makes things worse but covers it up for a bit, for 12 hours, until you wipe it off and you see just who you really are

Not the fake person who is happy and beautiful and social and wonderful, but the real you, the you with the pimples and red marks and blackheads and whiteheads and bleeding pimples and inflamed pimples and sore pimples and huge clusters of pimples that you don't know where in the world came from

And then you go down this road where you avoid anything to do with water because if that water balloon hits your face then you're doomed and all your friends know the dark secret you've been hiding and if they shoot a water gun in your face then you'll watch their expressions turn from joking to terrified

And you avoid anything that involves bright lights because it brings out the bumps on your face that you can't hide with makeup even if you tried and you avoid close spaces with others because when they see you up close not only do they see how your face doesn't match your neck but they see the open pores and places where it flakes and that big bump between your eyes like a third eye

And you try everything, everything, you go through a phase where you think that you can become a dermatologist because you know so much, but then you realize you know nothing at all, because your face is still a mess and why would you let acne rule your life and choose what job you're gonna do

And you've tried Proactiv and Neutrogena and things from Korea and China and France but you know that nothing in the world could fix this, you've tried oatmeal and yogurt and cucumbers and lemon that burns and goes into your eye and ice and banana peels

And you're drinking water 12 gallons a day and you're worrying you might have kidney failure in the future and all your friends know that you use the bathroom every chance you can because if you don't drink enough water, your face gets even worse

And they don't know why I eat so healthy and say no to all those Oreos and cookies with icing and red velvet birthday cake and they see that I'm not fat and they think that I am just being snotty because they are bigger than me and for some reason people don't like it when you say no when they offer you something

But the sugar means that your right cheek will break out the next day and the butter and milk means that the space between your eyes will be swollen with pink craters and if you eat something spicy or fried your nose will look like a clown's

And you analyze everything, everything, and then you realize that it's 2am and you've spent the whole night on your bed staring at the ceiling, thinking about acne, and you should be sleeping because if you don't get enough sleep, your face gets even worse

People think they know pain some people complain about waxing their legs or sore throats or falling down from their skateboard but you don't know pain unless you've ever had a Chinese facial where the lady takes two special tools: both made of glimmering, sharp metal and uses the one with the circle to isolate the pimple/blackhead and uses the other one to dig, dig, dig it out

And the blood squirts and you want to scream, you want to scream forever and you vow to never let your acne get this bad that you have to endure this, that you'll give up homework and school because of the stress it gives you, that you'll stop wearing makeup, and sometimes the blackheads come out like a porcupine's back

But sometimes all it does it makes your face more swollen and red, and you're standing there at the salon and other people look at you with that same look of pity that seems to spell: "I'm so glad I'm not you, and I'm so sorry for you, and I think that you're hideous but I can't tear my eyes away"

And at the end of the day you're working on that essay or assignment and you go to sleep still stressed and you wake up looking at yourself, feeling stressed, and you spend the whole day being stressed that people will judge you or ignore you or not laugh at your jokes

Pictures are awkward, conversations are awkward when your friend who has one pimple complains about it and you don't know what to say back because you could go on forever but you don't want to

You don't want to admit that it hurts you so much, that acne has defined who you are in your heart, that you feel like the ugliest creature on earth. You want to keep the illusion that you are confident and pretty and laid-back because that way people will think of you that way

There is no room for going to the pool with your friends or taking pictures up close or going to the gym and working up so much sweat that your makeup drips off

There is no room for inviting your friends last minute or staying out at night because your face is shining with oil or you don't have makeup on and don't want to wash your face a third time that day

And there is no room for waking up late and getting to school in a minute, you're late because you've got to dab that makeup on gently, and every time you hear someone knock on your door who is not your mom you freak out

You don't want to face the UPS guy, you almost want to cry after seeing your best friend and her little brother like that, when you do the laundry downstairs with your mom you cringe when neighbors enter that bright, white laundry room

And work up a chat and look at you and you turn away awkwardly and say nothing and you know that in their head they think it but don't say it aloud

The only thing you want to do, it seems, is scream out loud in frustration at the world for making you so ugly and ashamed, and cry for being so fragile, and cry for people who don’t understand and never will

But acne gave you something else, something you overlooked the first time, something that takes a bit of time to appear. Acne gave you this heart

This compassion for people who don’t look perfect that wasn’t there before, you can look for their flaws in an effort to not feel so alone but in the end you appreciate them for being who they are, flaws and all, and you don’t judge because you know very well what it’s like to have people judge you

You are humble to the point of losing self-confidence, but humble nonetheless. You aren’t quite sure of yourself, but that’s what you have the rest of your life to figure out, just how truly special you are

You cherish the people close to you because you know that they love you despite your acne, they love you for you and not for a perfect image on the outside

Because even when your face is covered in bumps and there’s a huge one right on your forehead,

People may look but they won’t stop talking to you

Your friend who saw you like that didn’t stop being your friend

Your neighbors in the laundry room didn’t turn a cold shoulder

That lady in volunteering says that she misses you anyway

And you in the mirror

You say

“Is it worth it

To give something else up in my life

To have clear skin?”


And you realize: No.




I empathize with everything in your poem. I had cystic acne all over my face and back/shoulders. The best skin care company I have found is Skin Ceuticals, their products are amazing. Furthermore, I went on Accutane twice to cure the majority of my acne. Chin up, you're beautiful regardless of whether or not you have pimples. I've been through the exact same thing and I wish I hadn't spent so much time worrying about my acne and not living life to it's fullest. 

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