Most days, I don't wear make up. I battled many many years with severe cystic acne and, ugh, I can't even tell you how physically and emotionally painful it was to have to deal with severe and scaring acne for all of junior high, all of high school, all of college, up until recently. I felt absolutely hideous for years. It wasn't just that the acne looked gross to me but it seriously hurt and throbbed constantly. If my hand even lightly brushed a cyst on my face it would sting and throb so bad that my eyes would water. When you have cystic acne, you feel your skin in such a more intense way than when you don't have it. It's impossible to not be constantly aware of the physical and emotional pain of the cysts and pock marks on your face.
It took me a long time to believe I was beautiful despite my acne. My acne started slowly when I was 12 and reached it's peak when I was 19 & 20. I had tried every acne medication available from the ages of 12-19 and nothing worked so I finally, and cautiously, decided to take Acutane. Thankfully, I received none of the scary side effects other than super chapped lips and dry skin. And for the 6 months I took it at age 20, my skin purged itself of all of its acne drama and I was completely cyst free for a year after. It was amazing and SO freeing to just not feel pain in my face for the first time in years, to look in the mirror and not see ruddy hills and valleys but a clear soft landscape. It was SO freeing to finally not feel my face that way so intensely, to not feel pain when I touched my face. I was finally able to just forget about my face and focus on the me that isn't the outside. It was a year of obvious outward healing but more importantly deeper and more meaningful inward healing. The acne did come back though after a year, just not as painfully and dramatically as before. And thankfully, having that years break of face pain, when the acne did come back I didn't let it effect me as intensely emotionally before, even when I did get a lot of scaring after the acne came back. And about a year and a half ago (when I was 24) it did finally calm down. Now it only blesses me with the occasional one or two zits at a time that keep a girl humble :)
I sometimes don't wear make-up because I'm just feeling lazy, but others times I don't wear make-up because I want to remind myself that I am thankful for my years battling with really severe cystic acne. It taught me so much. I still have scars along my jawline and cheeks, though you can't really tell in the photo below. I have a freckly face so a lot of the little pock marks blend in with the freckles. But I still can see them.
When I looked at them when I was younger, it was in disgust and shame. I thought I looked like a monster and my lack of self pride was obvious in how I carried myself. But as I look at my face now with occasional zits, acne scars and no make-up, I am thankful I can say to myself, "Dude, it took a tumultuous 10 years to learn to love yourself with and without acne and scars. But I am proud of you. You learned to love yourself and find beauty in you whether your skin is completely clear, whether there are zits all over your face or scars scattered across your jaw. Whether your skin was constantly throbbing in pain or whether you didn't even notice the feel of your skin at all, you found self love. The scars that are left and the occasional zit visitors now are just reminders that true beauty isn't found in a perfectly smooth flawless face. Beauty is found in how a person wears their self love and confidence."
Most days I wear no make-up or just a little on my eyes. Most often, I let my hair air dry because I'm lazy about hair fancy-ness and blow drying it feels like a time waster. Plus, I am lucky to have pretty straight smooth hair that rarely needs to be brushed. I wear glasses every single day, all day because contacts are really irritating on my eyes when I am doing work at my desk all day, and I don't want to pay for them, and putting them in and taking them out freaks me out every time. Haha. I do feel a little prettier when I wear contacts, but feeling just a tiny bit prettier doesn't change my level of self love. And since I work work work all day everyday, being practical and feeling everyday pretty totally wins over feeling that extra dash of no-glasses pretty/irritated eyes.
Now, just because I often don't wear very much make-up, or none at all...just because I wear glasses and don't really do my hair often... doesn't mean "Oh, I am so humble, I don't need all this fancy stuff to feel beautiful." False. It's a challenge for me! Part of me is lazy when it comes to dolling myself up and I just don't want to put in the effort most days. Sometimes I need to challenge myself by dressing up, wearing make-up, and gussying up my hair because it is a visual remind that I need to invest in all of me, love all of me, artistically celebrate me. It can be a confidence boost to get all glammed up for sure, and for some girls that means glamming it up everyday. Go you for making the effort! But for me, a balance of relaxed days with fancy days mixed in is what keeps me feeling good about myself. It's a challenge of self love to accept yourself on your most simple of days. It can be difficult! And it is a challenge of self love to invest the time in creating a visual expression of your love of self in how you style yourself too!
There's no one perfect way to find your self love and comfort in who you are. But exploring loving yourself as your most visually simple you AND loving yourself as your most glamorous you is a great exercise in recognizing you are beautiful & worthy of being loved at your most simple and comfortable moments AND at your most visually expressive moments. If you have battled with acne as a child or an adult, I soooo feel you. And if you don't love yourself yet, I promise you, creating your own way to find your self love is a challenge but so worth it. What you may not like about yourself, like acne, may come and go for your whole life. So make the choice to seek your own compassionate understanding of beauty so that you can find the beauty in you whether it is your unwashed, messy you in the morning or your fancy dress-up you in the evening. At every moment, I believe you are beautiful. Let your self confidence be the glowing reflection of your beauty, rooted in self love.
Vintage 70's Vest // was my Mom's
Vintage 70's Plaid shirt // was my Grandma's
Jeans // Forever 21
Bag // Thrifted
Shoes // c/o Blowfish Shoes
Earrings // handmade by a friend
Glasses // Sears Optical
What in your life has challenged you to teach yourself self-love?