Are you hiding behind a mask?

May 20, 2020
Written by
Elizabeth Claire Nguyen
Photographed by
Elizabeth Claire Nguyen

ver feel like an imposter? Do you feel like hiding under layers of makeup or cancelling plans altogether? I know I have countless of times.

It’s definitely a struggle when it feels like the whole world is being unfair so you’re forced to wear a mask. As days...weeks...months pass you start to forget who you are. You start to lose yourself. It’s hard when society tells you that your acne scars and acne are “flaws” but it’s time we start to change the dialogue around “imperfections”. You are gorgeous the way you are. Our skin tells us stories and we’re going to look back and see how strong we have grown.

My story started when I was a teenager. All throughout high school I would get little bumps on my face but it never really became cystic until after I reached 12th grade (I was 17 years old). During this year in school I went through a traumatic experience that set me up for years of chronic acne well into adulthood. 

I was struggling with high school both socially and academically. My need to be the prettiest and smartest made me this horrible, nasty drama queen and as a result of my strive to be better than everybody else while trampling on others, I was in turn bullied and isolated for the majority of my last year of High School. It felt like the entire world hated me and that was something that actually broke my soul from a very young age, I had believed that my worth was measured by people’s validation of me. So I started to wear a mask, a face layered with makeup, a layer of false confidence and yes, it helped me hide behind my insecurities. 

I embodied that mask for so long that people started to believe that I was happy but in truth I was a girl suffocating from her own lies and warped perception of reality. I hated every inch of my skin ridden with acne.  My stress further worsened my inflammation and that’s when I could no longer hide behind makeup because all the bumps looked horrible. I couldn’t rely on my makeup anymore. So I skipped many days of uni, made lame excuses not to go to work and fabricated lies about being sick to my friends because I was ashamed of how ugly I looked and felt. 

Every morning, I struggled to get up because it meant I had to stare back at the mirror only to see a monster… Washing my face meant I would feel all the large sore bumps on my cheeks and forehead. I was no longer myself… I became this quiet and depressed girl who wasn’t fun anymore. I lost my bubbly, fun, loving self. Every day involved crying but one day, I just felt so sick of it all. 

Sick of hiding and sick of crying myself to sleep. So in came my crazy idea- starting a instagram blog!

I started uploading photos of my bare skin and taking people on my journey to healing both physically and mentally. I had to teach myself that I was so much more than my skin. To be honest, I began my blog to overcome my fears, and didn’t even know that people would be inspired by it. So when people started commenting and privately messaging me that I’ve helped them love themselves a little bit more, knowing that they’re not alone I knew what my new mission in life was. 

In a world that is so focused on external beauty and these unattainable standards, I aimed to put it all publicly out there to shatter society's perception of beauty. Not just for myself, but for all the other people in the world as well because our skin does not define us or tarnish our inner beauty. Acne is normal and it should not corner us into depression because we are greater than any social standard imbued on us! 

There’s no need to wear a mask to hide when you are perfect the way you are. Let makeup be an art, a form of expression but not a necessity. Don’t feel forced to cover up. It’s time to feel liberated and embrace your natural beauty. 

Your gal, Liz 

[ @prettyprogress23 ]

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