As I write this it's 7am and I already know I'm going to have a bad day.
Aside from checking my phone for notifications, and slamming the snooze button, the first part of my morning routine is looking in the mirror - one that I keep right by the bed or even under my pillow. This one look will be influential enough to encourage or hinder my getting out of bed and facing the day.
This morning I'm greeted with large swollen lumps on my cheek, pustules dotted across my jawline, and a painful third eye bulging out from my uni-brow - after surveying today's canvas I slumped back into the pillow.
I'm nearing the end of my twenties, this was meant to end a decade ago!
The physical and mental scarring began when I was twelve, a horrendously insecure age for anyone, but also the year some little oik publicly used my spots as a reason not to go out with me on a first generation social media site. But however distressed I got, I was always comforted by the fact, or myth, that as soon I turned twenty, and my teen years were behind me, that my skin would be clear like the actresses in the glossy fashion magazines and my enviably zit-less friends.
Thanks in part to my body's intolerance to all foods I choose to consume, my face is always etched with some visual evidence of my allergies. On particularly angry days I want to stay inside - out of sight of all humans and their possible judgements. I make sure the curtains are drawn, as if I'm in the full glare of daylight (reality) I tend to repeatedly mentally ridicule my face in all reflective surfaces.
Unfortunately, a dodgy skin day is not a legitimate excuse to abandon work duties, despite its capability to drastically affect performance. I regularly curse the career path that's landed me as a video-blogger. As a female interviewer, particularly one that talks to a lot of male musicians, I suppose I'm exposed to more criticism than if I had a more 'normal' job. Every time I post a new interview I fear/expect a scathing or cruel response from the notoriously uninhibited YouTube comment makers. I feel for celebrities and the level of scrutiny their looks and skin are under. I've always thought 'The Circle of Truth' type articles highlighting their supposed flaws (Cameran Diaz' acne problem for example) were a grossly unfair part of their chosen career. On a positive note though, I found it hugely comforting that these renowned beauties weren't perfect - they too suffered with this unsexy problem.
As well as affecting my confidence when interviewing - less eye contact, bad posture, barely looking at the camera - acne has affected other areas of my life...
My hair has always been long - apart from a failed attempt at the Meg Ryan choppy bob (City of Angels era) which turned my barnet into some sort of mushroom. Yes, it's feminine and versatile, but the main reason behind my hairstyle is its usefulness as a natural veil. On really bad days it's draped lankly over my face like one of those crystal beaded curtains found in launderettes. Beanie hats are also a vital apparatus used to help disguise the outbreaks on my cheeks, helpfully clamping my hair over my the problem areas - wholly necessary for blustery days. If only Balaclavas were on trend this A/W!
But acne doesn't just affect those inflicted. Over the years my poor boyfriends have had the impossible task of minimising my anguish, when sunscreen has turned my face into something resembling lasagne for example. They've also had to put up with me ducking under the duvet to hide my blotchy, make-up free face every morning. Making excuses not to attend social events because I don't want to be photographed next to the beautiful people blessed with minute pores is also common place. The prospect of having to abandon my skincare regime and reveal my bare face to others at festivals or sleepovers has always caused extreme anxiety too. It really is endless..
Of course there are many parts of me that I'd like to change, but most can be enhanced/minimised with the use of clever dressing, working the right angles...or exercising (never going to happen). Make-up can cover up redness and scar discolouration pretty well, but it can't hide undulation or valleys, and you can't predict when those pesky white heads will show up!
Hopefully one day I'll won't feel the need to sharply change route if I see someone I know on the horizon, or keep moving my face frantically when conversing to give the illusion of pixelation or airbrushing.....In the meantime, just a few things. When you say how you prefer natural girls please remember that some of us would love to go bare faced, we just can't. When a professional explains that men naturally want to mate with women who have good skin...that really hurts. And If you tell us it doesn't look that bad, we won't believe you.
It's not JUST spots... to us it's a nightmare.