I’m Isabella, I’m 22, and I’m from Kent. I’m a daughter, a friend, a sister, and I also have cystic acne. Acne has been a big part of my life for the past 13 years, first joining me when I was nine years old.
Getting acne when you’re still in primary school is not ideal. It comes with questions and endless amounts of unsolicited advice.
People are often surprised that my classmates never bullied me for my acne. I am very grateful for that, but it was adults who constantly convinced me my skin was something I should be ashamed of.
My skin would often be brought up in conversation and I received looks in the street. By the age of 13, I felt I had to cover up my skin like it was something to hide.
Luckily, my family was always there to support me and make me feel more confident about my appearance. But I remained conscious of my skin – and of who was looking at the bumps and cysts on my face.
I tried everything to get rid of it: all the diets, antibiotics, skincare. When I was 17, I was given a new prescription. I thought it was a miracle drug, I had clear skin, something I couldn’t imagine having before.
For four years I had pretty much acne-free skin. But I lived in constant fear that my acne would return, and I was hyper aware of what my skin looked like. I rarely went out without a thick layer of make-up on to hide my scarring.
Then, despite being on my prescription medication, my acne came back. But this time it was totally different.
My life didn’t drastically change overnight just because I had clear skin, and I realised that it wouldn’t change now just because my acne had returned.
As cliched as it sounds, I discovered that I am in control of my own destiny and life.
I decided to start an Instagram account about my skin and my experiences. I would no longer be ruled by my acne and I didn’t care who knew it!
Everything I do on my platform helps to normalise skin conditions and visible differences. I truly believe that the more we see and celebrate difference, the more it becomes accepted.
Then people won’t feel ashamed of their skin and there won’t be trolls targeting people who look different.
My account has become a safe haven and I love spreading as much positivity and kindness on there as I can.
I’m always replying to messages and comments whilst sharing resources that have helped me. I adore building a close relationship with my followers and that is what keeps me going on there too. We are all beautiful! The comments and stares we receive mean absolutely nothing. What a blessing it is for us to know there is much more to all of us than our appearance.
I have learnt and accepted that acne may be a part of my life forever, but I now know I can and will still do amazing things. I can find beauty in my skin, the way my scars frame my face, my acne decorates my skin like a picture.
While I still find unsolicited advice difficult to deal with, I am prepared for when it happens. If it’s in person, I try to move the conversation onto another topic. I view unsolicited advice online as a form of trolling, so any messages are deleted, and comments are not replied to. I am happy as I am and should I decide to seek treatment, that will be on my terms.
I never thought I’d be at this place with my skin, I want to show others they can get there too.
There is a lot of physical pain having acne on top of the mental trauma brought on by others. But I won’t let it take control, I know I am so much more than my skin.