So I am sitting here in Washington Square Park, barefaced and sweaty since I biked here from Bushwick. It’s 80 something degrees with humidity beyond anything I’ve ever known. Slopping SPF on my face like I’m Zuckerburg.

But in this moment, I feel completely free and present in my skin for the first time, in a very long time.

I’ve had acne my entire life so embarking on an Accutane journey during a global pandemic has really proven that I am the only person who can have an opinion my skin. It’s literally the thing I live in 100% of the time and anyone who comments on it is overreaching.

Chronic acne is not an empowering experience. It does not elicit respect. People assume you’re doing something wrong.

Once I was in an elevator and a woman held the door open for so long it began to beep so she could give me unsolicited skincare advice. I don’t fucking care about her intentions, she embarrassed me and reminded me that people see my skin as a problem that needs to be fixed.

The funny thing is, ask anyone with acne to explain the differences between AHA’s and BHA’s or between Vitamin C and Retinol. People with acne study skincare like our life depends on it, because our self-worth really does.

I neglected treating myself because the beauty industry told me that I just wasn’t buying the right products or I had to go gluten-free or stop eating eggs.

The thing is, Accutane treats acne that can’t be treated topically because my biology was just prone to persistent acne. The only thing I could do to improve my skin was to receive medical treatment.

Since I’m over the purge and my skin and my mind are noticeably clearer, I now have the privilege of saying my skin doesn’t define me.

While Accutane helped tremendously, it did not solve all my problems and I still wish I had more confidence. Truth is, Acne and body image are not the be-all end-all of personal development, they really are just physical manifestations of deeper issues.

I still mourn the old me who apologized for a sickness she couldn’t control. I am sorry for stifling her confidence and attacking her for not being enough. She deserved to be taken care of first.

So I wonder, why am I more in love with myself and my life than ever before?

Is it because I finally decided to throw money at my skin issues? Prioritizing my vanity over getting out of student loan debt? Maybe it was being away from my friends for several months and having to deepen our connection virtually? Maybe it was the new Dua Lipa album? Maybe it’s the working from home with my furbaby Lenny?

The beautiful thing is that the “why” does not matter at all. It’s all about the “what now?”

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