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SAVING FACE: What not to say to a person struggling with acne

Tuesday August 15 2017

Acne is right in front of your face. It walks into the room with you. It’s hard because your face is the first thing people notice about you. Acne can turn focus inward and you end up thinking your skin is all they see. PHOTO | FILE

I’ve struggled with acne and an uneven skin tone ever since I was a 14-year-old Form One student. PHOTO | FILE 

MOUREEN MUTHONI
By MOUREEN MUTHONI
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I’ve struggled with acne and an uneven skin tone ever since I was a 14-year-old Form One student. On and off rashes, whiteheads and blackheads. You know, the usual. But the most glaring of them all has had to be the uneven skin tone. I’ve tried all kinds of products to even it out to no avail. I’m currently at a place where I’ve made peace with the fact that my face will never be evenly toned and moved on. I mean. There are much more important things to worry about…like world peace...yes? Anyway, throughout that struggle I’ve encountered all kinds of people. Ranging from the terrible  “I pity you” to the disgusted “I can’t believe you’d neglect your face to that extent ”. Here are a few that I’ve encountered.

NO THANKS, I DON’T NEED TO BE SAVED

These are the people who assume that simply because you have acne, you automatically fall in the victim category and need to be saved. Some will offer all kinds of advice; indirectly, of course, lest they offend you. A plus for them; they make an attempt, albeit failed sometimes, to not hurt your feelings. These are the type who in an attempt to offer comfort for your ‘suffering’ will furnish you with tales of people they know who used a certain product that worked wonders and offer to link you up.

DON’T STARE SO INTENTLY AT MY FACE, IT’S NOT A MUSEUM

You know that picture of an old lady in a young lady and vice versa that you have to look at closely to see both? Well that’s the same kind of intensity that these ones behold you with. I once had a lady I was introduced to shake my hand for nearly a minute while staring intently. At first, I thought she knew me from somewhere and was trying to recall where until I realized that she was staring at my oily acned face!

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These are the proverbial know-it-alls and fixers. They are a graduated version of the ‘poor yous’ The former might furnish you with advice but these ones will bombard you with it. I’ve heard it all. From clay masks to acne soaps and creams. These ones take it a notch higher by sending you articles from Google(as if you don’t have access to it yourself) on how to deal with acne and even proceed to follow up on whether you’ve gone ahead to ‘invest’ in the said products!

THE DIGUSTED EXPRESSION ON YOUR FACE HELPS NOBODY

I have to warn you…these ones are savage. They do not hide their disgust at what they deem to be negligence and poor hygiene/eating habits. To them, acne is a self-inflicted condition that can be kept at bay by taking certain corrective actions. Need I say these are the majority? I once had an acquaintance casually imply that if she were in my shoes, she’d never appear in public and even wondered how I manage to have normal self-esteem. Another one, who was my classmate at the time, couldn’t contain her surprise as I reached out for a third mandazi and went ahead to suggest and conclude I keep off wheat as this was the reason for my acne. She then proceeded to lecture everyone around on gluten intolerance. Finally, there was this guy…yes a guy (I’m not in any way implying that guys aren’t allowed to have opinions on acne or anything but you catch the drift) who took it upon himself to lecture me and another friend who’d just a few minutes earlier complained of a SINGLE pimple (*rolls eyes*story for another day) about how our diets were the reason for our flawed faces. He went on to proclaim how the fact that we, the ladies of today, (sexist much?) shun ‘traditional healthy foods’ and instead prefer ‘modern unhealthy foods’ and hence our predicament. Needless to say, that conversation did not end well.

Are skin or hair issues driving you up the wall? Or have you found a way around them? Interested in sharing your story? Email [email protected]

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