Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. At least I used to think that was true.
Whether it’s unsolicited advice from our hairdresser, relentless product recommendations from friends, or even playful mocking by family members, it seems like everyone wants to weigh in on our acne. Beyond the typical taunts of “pizza face”, people with acne really do deal with a lot of crappy and insensitive comments.
Here is just a sampling of some of the meanest comments people have made about my acne, in no order.
Like, it’s just acne, get over yourself.
Thanks! That’s not condescending at all. Don’t you think I realize that there are worse hardships in the world? It may not be one of the meanest comments in the world, but invalidating someone’s pain is a pretty nasty thing to do. Other bad things in the world don’t take away the anguish we endure at the hands of chronic acne – the psychological and physical scarring is self-evident, so while it is “just acne”, it’s also “just painful” and “just devastating”.
2- “Your face looks really bad! Don’t you have a cream or something?”
During one particularly gnarly breakout, someone close to me caught me off-guard with this “just being honest” remark. They then backpedaled by suggesting they were just really concerned for my health. What a confidence booster that was.
3- “Omg! What’s wrong with your face?”
A little like the last one, but this comment is just seething with disgust. The furrowed brow, the wrinkled nose, and the open-mouthed look of a baby who just tasted lemon juice, these people physically recoiled in horror at the sight of my pimply face.
To ask what’s wrong with my face is to first suggest there is something “wrong” with me as a whole. But when you add in the implied meaning and the obvious body language, it’s almost as if people are asking us if we’re contagious. No, it’s not chickenpox, it’s called adult acne.
4- “You’re pretty, even though you have acne.”
Wait, is this supposed to be a compliment? I’m pretty … even though I have acne? Sorry, my physical appearance does not require your seal of approval.
5- “It’s not so bad, some people think acne is sexy.”
Great, thank you for fetishizing my acne and implying that only people with an acne fetish could ever find me attractive. I feel much better now.
6- “Can I play connect the dots with your acne?”
How do you even respond to something like that? Sure, grab a Sharpie and use my face as your own personal coloring book, that’s not a totally weird or inappropriate thing to say at all.
Having acne is hard. Being in the public eye with acne is harder. Everyone has an opinion, and everyone thinks theirs is correct. The internet gives people a platform through which to share their opinions easily and widely, while ignorant of the aftermath effect. I, like many others with acne, received a fair share of these uneducated, low-brow comments over the internet, but none to my face. These tend to be the meanest comments about acne, because they’re wholly malicious, intended only to hurt and belittle us.
8- Literally anything said in front of other people.
Talk about centering me out! Yes, my acne is on my face for everyone to see, I’m reminded of that every day when I look in the mirror. But discussing my acne in a public setting is, in my opinion, completely inappropriate, even though there may be good intentions. We may be “among friends” or family, but that really doesn’t matter. Acne is a disease with diverse and complicated origins. It is a completely private matter, despite its unfortunate public visibility. If I wanted to talk about it at the dinner table on Christmas, believe me Aunt Sally, I would. I don’t bring up your Irritable Bowel Syndrome, don’t bring up my acne.
These types of comments can make us want to stay hidden and away from people; we know we shouldn’t care, but it hurts when people make comments about our acne.
What’s important to remember is that you have the right to stand up for yourself, and the only comments that matter when it comes to your acne are your own. Treating acne can be a mountain of a task, but it’s easier when you accept yourself as you are and do away with the negative self-talk. You’re above it. You’re above what people think about you, and what people say about you. Your value is determined by you, not others.
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