Saturday, July 14, 2012

My Take On: Acne, Skin Problems and Bullying



This is the second post in my made up My Take On series and I knew right away that I wanted to dedicate a whole post to how my skin has changed over the years since I started getting acne along with the bullying I went through because of it. Was that a run on sentence? All of the photos in this post have not been retouched at all. Please click the photos to enlarge them if you feel the need to. I try to be as candid as possible for these types of posts because they are pretty meaningless if I'm not being honest. The point is to encourage others to come out of their shell to tell their story. So here goes nothing!


My skin was smooth and clear as a child but around 7th grade my hormones kicked into overdrive and pimples appeared all over my forehead. My acne pretty much stayed on my forehead and the rest of my face was pretty clear. It was incredibly difficult to find photos of myself during my early to mid teenage years because I disliked taking photos. I hated how my skin looked because I was bullied constantly. Almost everyday someone would make a remark like "Have you tried Proactiv?" or "Do you know you have a pimple there?". It was frustrating to be faced with endless criticism yet not know what to do for my skin.

I was not interested in skincare or makeup at all for most of my teenage years (but that's another story for another post!). My Mom bought me some face wash and some salicylic acid cream but I rarely used the cream due to laziness. My situation and skin just seemed hopeless.


For more than half of high school I had the same notion that my skin was just bad and there was no hope for me. Some people told me the acne would naturally go away and I hoped they would be right (they were wrong). During high school my acne started migrating downward and I pretty much had breakouts on any given section of my face. 


Certain people still made fun of me but the bullying lessened. If you read my other post on weight and body image, then you'll know that I started defending myself from bullies. I think defending myself played a big part in getting people to stop making fun of me and being outright rude. People would literally ask other people to come over and look at my skin to tell me how bad it was. That was not helpful at all and incredibly humiliating. I was constantly embarrassed about my skin. It was during my high school years when I finally had enough and I would not tolerate the mean remarks any longer. When someone made fun of me, I would say something along the lines of "Why do you have to say that?" or "I know I have bad skin. Can you stop pointing it out?". It was actually really easy to defend myself like that because the person would usually get the hint and realize they were being rude. I felt liberated when I could speak up for myself. 

Photo on the right is from 2011. I made a mistake and failed to save the .psd and was lazy to start over. You get the idea.
During my last few months of high school I started using a skincare regimen (of sorts). Unfortunately I thought the Clinique 3-Step would be good and it wasn't. It took me awhile to realize how ineffective and downright harmful that skincare line was. Nonetheless I finished up the set and moved on. Now you all know I love trying new skincare and I treat it like a hobby. 

I still struggle with acne, discoloration, and the like. It still bothers me when I have a huge pimple on the eve of a big day. I wear makeup to conceal my acne scars. BUT I realize my skin is not as bad as I used to perceive it. Looking back at my old photos, my acne really wasn't that horrible. I can't believe that I let people's words cause myself to suffer from very low self esteem for years. 

The funny thing is that I have a few friends who still tell me when I have a pimple or some acne. They are some of my closest friends but their remarks are still mean and I still take offense. It is still bullying. Partially I am offended by the fact that they ask me if I notice that I have a pimple. It's like I don't have eyes to see for myself. I blog several times a week about beauty related topics. I think I would know if I had a pimple on my face thank you very much. I try to restrain my initial anger and calmly tell them that I am aware I have a spot on my face. I always ask them to stop telling me when I have a pimple or a bad skin day. The remarks have decreased over the past few months so I'm glad.

So while I still have acne and will probably continue to have "bad" skin for the rest of my life, I've come to terms with this fact. I realized that the words hurt more than the actual fact of having acne. Therefore, I train myself to not judge people's skin and I don't believe I have ever told someone they had a spot. It just comes across as being incredibly rude whether you are truly trying to help or not. It's only a horrible thing if you believe it is. Having acne is not life threatening at all. It's not the end of the world and you should not feel miserable due to a spot or two or ten. 

Check out the video below to hear my chat a bit more about my skin experiences and to see my skin up close! I had to do a close up to really show you guys how my skin looks, pores and all (skip to 14:00 to see the close up portion if you don't want to watch me talking for 16 minutes)!


I want to read all of YOUR skin experiences and how you came to terms with them (if you have). Were you ever bullied because of your skin imperfections and did you ever find the voice to stand up for yourself?

13 comments :

  1. This post is so informative and so inspirational :) Personally, I don't think you had bad skin at all... it was just a combination of growing up (hormones) and not finding the right product (I had the same reaction w/Clinique). Growing up my skin was so much like yours but I would specially break out on my forehead and chin (I still do!), and I was also too lazy to put on any creams. It seemed to irritate them more :/ But as I got older, my skin improved because I think I was taking vitamins and eating better. I hate to say this but growing up in a Chinese family, my mom was not the healthiest cook and since I moved out at 18, I have been a lot better in terms of what I put in my body.
    You were also probably stressed out in HS from the rude comments from people. I know the bullying sucks!

    And I read your other post about body image and stuff - that was incredible how you can document the fluctuation of your weight. Even though 118-120 is not a lot, for the sizes of a lot of Asian girls, gaining just a little bit shows because our body frames are smaller.

    I found your "take on" series really inspirational :)

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    1. Thankyou so much for leaving a nice comment! I think a lot of people went through the same things as us and darn Clinique for marketing their 3-Step line so well! I realized today after going through a lot of pictures and while I was filming the video that my skin isn't as bad as I always thought. My Mom cooks pretty well already but I hope that when I move out I can eat even more "clean" and healthier.

      Also, I just got weighed at the doctor's today and I'm 115 and I feel great :D My scale at home says I'm 110 and the one at the gym says I'm 120 haha. Really weird but I'll go with the doctor's measurements. :P

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  2. Your skin didn't look too bad! But when we're little every little thing seemed like a disaster :P
    My acne situation seems similar to yours but it started in 4th/5th grade for me...I "matured" early =.= I found that most of the bullying I had was really just in elementary school when everything was funny to everyone. Then as middle school game around others also were at that stage and it wasn't a big problem amongst peers. The big bully-ers were family! They liked to comment nonstop about it and tell me to not do this, not eat that, do it this way and that way...As rude as this may sound I just gave them a stink eye and ignored them haha :X Now I still ignore them sometimes or say "You think I wanted acne? :O" But their comments got less as I started finding products that worked well for me.

    I can't wait for more My Take On posts! :D

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    1. A lot of other people in middle school also had acne but I felt like I got picked on the a lot more than everyone else.... But family is really the main culprit. My skin looks better than it used to and my makeup skills definitely help a bit too :) I'm very happy you like these posts!

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  3. lol you look so cute and dorky in the 2005 photo with the little dog! Hehe I kind of wish I had easy access to my younger days photos, but they are all in the 'paper' format and probably in some box/album at my parents' house in long island. I remember a few times in middles school getting one big pimple right on the middle of my nose. That was horrible. =P

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    1. Ah, I love photographs on paper. It makes me a bit sad how most of my photos are now only in digital format. The pimples right in the middle of the nose are the worst! They're super painful and extremely noticeable haha!

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  4. awesome post! :) i had really bad skin growing up but now when i look back, it wasn't that bad in reality but sure felt like it at the time. my family has flawless skin so no one ever has to deal with it so when growing up, i experimented a lot and i like you, used clinique 3 step which didn't really do great things for my skin. i'm using proactiv now with a mix of some sensitive skin products and though its not perfect i'm happy with it ! Anyways, again, great post, really informative and i love it when people share personal experiences xx
    Have a nice weekend love!

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    1. Apparently my Mom had acne prone skin as a teenager as well so that's probably where I got it from. I've never tried Proactiv probably due to the fact that people jokingly told me to try it all the time. It just reminds me of a less than happy time in my life haha. Have a lovely rest of the weekend too!

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  5. So sorry to hear of what you went through. It is rather sad that your friends would also make mean comments. Perhaps it's a lack of maturity or ignorance, IDK.
    I have two teenagers who also face acne. They've never mentioned to me but I wonder if they also get bullied. I encourage them to take care of their skin and willing to spend the money on whatever product they want to try. My son's acne was pretty bad when he was around 13. He is currently using Murad skin care and it worked really well for him. It did take some time to see result but it worked. My daughter has a lot on her nose and forehead. I suggested that she tries the stuff my son use but I'm not sure if she even bothers she is kinda lazy.

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    1. Your kids are very fortunate to have a mom that is so knowledgeable about skincare! My mom is not interested in beauty products and I own a lot more skincare and makeup than her. It's just not her thing so she didn't really know how to help me with my skin back in the day. It's quite ironic that your son uses skincare more effectively than your daughter since most boys tend not to care XD Glad Murad helped his skin!

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  6. I am so happy I stumbled upon your post.. I thought I was the only one who felt like that. Like another commenter, I "matured" early and started getting acne when I was about 9. No one knew what it was and thought it was the funniest thing. When I was 10 I moved to a new city and the first thing that was ever said to me (by a boy, nonetheless) was "what are those red things on your face?" and that was the beginning of a long hard journey for me. Every day I was called zit face, pizza face, oxy pad and the worst of all, zitzilla. That was terrible. People used to address me like that.. I'd walk up and they'd say "hey oxy pad" and I'd laugh because I didn't know what to do and didn't want to seem insecure.
    I remember specifically one day, the guy who made fun of me the first day came to my house with his friends, knocked on the door, said "hey guys, this is the zitzilla" and they all laughed and ran away. To think they came all the way to my house just to say that... I thought I must be REALLY ugly for someone to go through all that effort. This behaviour continued into middle school and finally subsided around high school when everyone else was finally started to feel how I felt for the last several years. However my fears and insecurities didn't and I constantly felt that people were staring at my face and even if they weren't making rude comments, they were thinking them. The summer before my first year of college, I discovered makeup. I couldn't believe I never thought of it before.. It might have saved me a lot of grief. I could finally walk outside and feel like I was pretty (I do feel I have a pretty face beneath the acne). However, I became so obsessed that I could never leave the house without makeup, and eventually didn't even want my own parents seeing me without it even though they know what I look like. It was as if now that I'm pretty, I couldn't go back to the ugliness I had before. I don't even like to look at my face in the mirror.. I will put on a bit of makeup even if I just plan on staying inside all day because I hate looking at myself. I also wonder if the people I've met since I've started wearing make up (I got my first job after that) would ever associate with me if they knew what I truly looked like. Interestingly enough, I did not make the association between hating my face and the bullying until about a year ago and I am going into my third year of college. My mom commented on how I don't apply makeup very well and I said id rather be stared at for a bad makeup job than acne, because makeup wasn't what I was insulted for and it's not what brings back feelings of pain and isolation. It's great that I'm a step further into figuring out my insecurities but my greatest hope is to legitimately like my face and be able to feel comfortable without makeup. The same as you, I did not have terrible acne, it didn't cover my face at all. It was the bullying, not the acne, and although it seems so small (I mean everyone gets made fun of once in a while right?), it hurts to know that comments that were made when I was 9 and 10 have caused serious self esteem issues for me as an adult. Anyways, it was just nice to find someone in a similar situation and be able to share a story I haven't shared with many people at all. Sorry for the long post!

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    1. Don't be sorry for the long post! It's unfortunate that you had to go through a terrible experience like that but know that you are not alone. I hope that you can soon resolve the issues that the bullying caused you. I'm sure you look great with or without makeup! It's just up to you to find that confidence :)

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  7. Keep that great attitude going! :D Although you have a better skin condition now, it would be better to always keep a positive outlook about life. It wouldn’t only make you feel good, it could also help in preventing acne breakout. If you’d pay attention to those bullies and all that you’ve been through under their scrutiny too much, you might just get depressed. And an unstable mood might disturb your hormone secretions that could lead to cause you more zits. ;] Stay pretty by being happy!

    Francis Powers

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