It was a classic enemies-to-lovers romantic trope. You were merely an annoyance I desperately wanted to get rid of.
I used various face masks, creams, serums, cleansers, spot treatments, medication and at-home remedies. But you were like the popcorn ceiling that everyone tries to scrape off in a fixer-upper home.
I hated the face I looked back at in the mirror after you came into my life. I would hide underneath acne patches and filters on Snapchat, or I would airbrush you out of existence using editing apps.
At first, you made me feel like I was a heinous monster who should be cast away for subjecting anyone to my appearance. Meeting new people or seeing old friends was my worst nightmare. I would constantly apologize for your presence even though you didn’t ask to be there.
Society has created a stigma of uncleanliness that is associated with you. I was terrified of the idea that people thought I didn’t know basic hygiene or that I didn’t realize the correlation that nutrition had with clear skin. I was ashamed.
But then I asked myself why.
Why did I care what other people would think? Why did marks on my face make me less of a person? Why was I enforcing the very stigma that I despised the most?
A lot of it had to do with the fact that all of my media consumption on social media apps favored people with clear skin.
Everyone was trying to minimize pores, or get skin as smooth as they possibly could, trying out different products that were always trying to get rid of you.
After scrolling through videos and seeing people living a carefree life without you, I became resentful. I spiraled and fell down another rabbit hole of self-deprecation, longing to live my life without having to worry about the spots you left behind on my face — but this time I knew things couldn’t be the same.
That’s when I realized you weren’t that different from the freckles that pepper people’s faces when they stay out too long in the sun — besides the itchy and irritated skin, of course. But you couldn’t help that.
After accepting that I wasn’t going to get rid of you anytime soon, I knew my journey with you was going to be long, painful and would require a lot of discipline. You taught me patience and offered a new perspective — something I consider to be found in a great love.
I look back at the lowest points of my life with you now, not as a regret, but as the time-old lesson I will remember for years to come:
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”
I stopped calling myself “pepperoni face” and using heavy filters on pictures that camouflaged my biggest insecurity. If there was nothing I could do to get rid of you overnight — and trust me, I tried — I might as well embrace you and find the things I loved about you.
To the person you find next, I offer a few words of advice.
Don’t hide away. It will only make you feel worse.
Surround yourself with people who love you for you, insecurities and all.
On the bad days, remember that better ones are around the corner if you put the work in and trust those who are trying to help.
Don’t stop doing the things you love because you are afraid of the comments people will make.
Just because you have marks on your face doesn't make you any less beautiful or handsome.
I look back at the scars you left behind on my face with kind eyes and hazy memories behind them. Wishing I would have known the immense amount of love you have introduced me to sooner.
Brie Haro is the Community Engagement Editor for The Beacon. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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