I hate my acne.
Acne is medically treatable, but peoples’ perceptions of it aren’t, and neither is the pain it causes me—at least not easily.
I was feeling a bit crappy about my acne, as we all do, and people constantly bugging me about it wasn’t helping. As a writer, I love to curate new studies so I went hunting for some about why they’re wrong to badger me about my pimples, in the hopes it might shut them up. Instead, I found some to make myself and hopefully, you, feel better about having acne in the first place.
Let’s Get This Out Of The Way, Why Do We Think Acne Is Bad?
Is Acne Attractive?
Simple answer: no, study-confirmed. Acne is unattractive, which sucks for people like us given that surveys show most people judge based on appearance.
Clearly, society hates our acne—and so do we. We feel unattractive because acne is societally unattractive, and 85 percent of us feel appearance and identity are interlinked.
Is Acne Dirty?
it’s a common myth that acne-sufferers have poor hygiene, although studies prove acne isn’t dirty. Excess oil buildup and clogged pores cause acne. It happens on the inside—bacteria can make it worse, yes, but we all have skin bacteria under the surface.
Hygiene and acne are oftentimes unrelated. Which is great! That means we don’t have to use this as an excuse to hate our acne.
Does Acne Cause Social Anxiety?
Based on society’s views, it’s not surprising that studies reveal most acne patients have social anxiety. Low self-esteem is a massive part of social anxiety, and acne-sufferers know anxiety creeps in during flare-ups.
We break out, we feel bad. Social anxiety is proven to make us feel worse about ourselves, which can worsen acne. It’s an endless cycle that impacts self-image, worsening it, and acne is a part of that. However, social anxiety is overcomeable—as is acne.
So, What Can You Do To Overcome Your Confidence Issues With Acne?
I was chatting with Conor from SkinTheory about some studies I found for this article. He was pretty excited about them—saying “these are all about you pulling yourself up by your bootstraps and making yourself happy and I’m all about it.”
That’s exactly what each study encompasses. According to this study:
Higher Self Esteem = Happier Life
“Self-esteem is thus perception rather than reality. It refers to a person’s belief about whether he or she is intelligent and attractive, for example, and it does not necessarily say anything about whether the person actually is intelligent and attractive.”
Think about it. Self-esteem is something only we can control. We change our way of thinking, we improve our lives.
Working psychologist Diane Mahoney shared this observed psychology secret with the masses: Your brain believes everything you say. So let’s just tell our brains that we’re confident with a great self-image. Impossible, right? Maybe not.
Relearning Self Image
Self-image is a product of learning. It’s not a product of appearance or the “fact” that acne is “unattractive.” If nobody told us acne was ugly, would we know? Of course not, behaviour and thinking are learned.
That’s how you trick your brain. Relearn what you thought you knew. Reading and viewing positive material about acne can boost self-image, as we observe others with acne thriving. We can thrive, too—we just need to learn how and become more authentic to boost confidence.
Scientists believe social anxiety occurs when you’re trying to present yourself a certain way, but it’s not coming across. Since appearance and how we view ourselves are interlinked, it’s not surprising we assume that acne is harming how we come across.
Acne isn’t stopping us from presenting ourselves the way we want to. We are, and anxiety is. We’re in another paradox—acne creates anxiety, anxiety stops us from presenting ourselves authentically. It’s not easy, but if we ignore the acne and hang out in the right places, we can eventually beat the cycle.
Overcoming Social Anxiety
Finally, one study experimented with controlled, online cognitive behavioural therapy. Socially anxious people surrounded themselves with positivity, via online forums and discussions. Some people had expert help, others didn’t.
The results? People with and without expert help had relieved symptoms. A year later, they were still improving, or at least not getting worse. This proves we don’t need to be experts to overcome acne-induced anxiety. If we surround yourselves with positivity, relief will follow.
Becoming Acne Positive
While there’s still a long way to go, people are learning that acne isn’t so bad—and with the observations above in mind, so can you and I.
Society is becoming more accepting, or at least open, and positivity is on the rise. The acne positivity movement is one example of how things are changing for the better. Acne is normal, and almost everyone experiences it once in their lifetime. It crops up regardless of sex, age or background.
I Hate My Acne: What to Do Now
Yes. I hate my acne still, but I’m getting there—and since I hate my acne less these days, the people I wished would shut up have become distant background noise. My insecurities were making their words hurt more.
Acne still sucks, but we can overcome many of the issues it causes by changing how we think. If we stick to those positive spaces, people will notice our confidence and not what’s on our faces.
– Written by MR System, whom you can contact here