One of the things I read and hear about over and over again in the acne and skin positivity community online is how people don’t feel confident or even comfortable being around other people and out in public without makeup on. People feel shackled to their makeup, like they NEED it, like they are so hideous and ugly without it, they couldn’t possibly stop wearing it even if they tried. But at the same time I hear them talk about how they WANT to stop wearing it all the time and be spontaneous again.
How they want to be able to just get up and go when a friend asks them to grab froyo without worrying about if they have time to put on makeup.
How they hate getting up an hour early JUST to make sure every inch of their face and imperfections on it is covered.
And this got me thinking. Reading these stories made me remember how I felt when I first got acne. It made me think back to all those times when I would look at myself in the mirror with my full face of makeup on and hold back the tears because I could still see my imperfections, the bumps and the texture even though I tried my hardest to cover it all up. It made me remember how defeated and hopeless and utterly alone I felt. It made me remember that I constantly told myself how gross and ugly I was and how not even makeup could fix it.
I remember how dependent I felt on my makeup when I first got acne. I remember putting on a full face makeup JUST to go to the gym, the pool, the beach or even my parents’ house. That’s how insecure I was. I didn’t even want my family to see me without makeup on. My acne embarrassed me, it made me feel ashamed and like I wanted to hide everyday.
Of course I still had to be a functioning human in society and so makeup, and especially foundation to cover my imperfect skin, became my security blanket. It became my shield I could hide behind. It didn’t particularly make me feel better about myself or my acne but it least gave me the ability to face people and be out in public.
I think this might be one of the biggest misconceptions people have about makeup: that it will make them feel different or better. That was never the case for me. Sure I felt fine enough to be around people but it never quite gave me the comfort I was hoping for. On the surface level it seemed like I was more confident and I felt better when wearing it but at the end of the day, I still felt like shit and ugly when I took it off and looked in the mirror. And that’s not what confidence is. My skin and how big of an issue it was for me was still always in the back of my mind. It never left me. Because I just tried to cover it up with makeup instead of dealing with it.
What’s crazy is that once I finally took that leap of faith and decided to stop hiding behind my makeup, stop carrying around this security blanket, once I went out in public without makeup on and my acne, texture and hyperpigmentation out and on display, that’s when I found peace.
That’s when I could start forgetting about my skin. Because I wasn’t hiding anymore and that did something to me. It changed something deep inside me. It started to change this core belief of mine that I wasn’t good enough that I had been carrying around for years. It was like me giving the middle finger to all my nasty stories and ugly lies about how I wasn’t worthy or pretty or lovable.
At the time I didn’t realize what a huge step it was but me deciding to not wear makeup just to cover my skin anymore was the beginning of everything. It was the beginning of me making peace with my skin, the beginning of me getting my life back, the beginning of my acne healing.
The beginning of it all. It brought me where I am today and it’s weird to even say that but ditching makeup that very first time changed everything.
But I’m not going to sit here and lie and say that this very first time I left my house without makeup on in years felt good. Because it definitely didn’t. It felt like everyone and their mother was staring at me, like everyone was judging me and wondering why I didn’t wear makeup or if I even washed my face. I was scared and I wanted to run back home and hide the entire time but I didn’t. I knew that if I ever wanted to feel confident or even comfortable without makeup on, if I ever wanted to ditch that shackle to makeup I just had to go and do the scary thing.
Someone once asked me how long it took me to feel confident enough to leave my house without makeup on and what I told them was this: I didn’t wait to feel confident. It sucked and I didn’t want to do it but I did it anyway.
Because that’s how you get past your fears, when you walk straight towards them. What people don’t realize is that if you keep running away from your fear and you keep avoiding stepping outside of your comfort zone, it will always chase you down and push you into a corner. So to get over something, to be confident doing something, you just have to do it.
So do it. Decide to be done hiding. Decide to be done letting makeup be your security blanket. Decide to look fear straight in the eye and tell it to F off. And eventually it won’t be so scary anymore. And then eventually you will wonder what you were scared off and worried about this whole time in the first place.
But it all starts with you taking that first step. So take yours. That’s how things change.