Why I Embraced My Acne and Stopped Wearing Makeup

When I was 12, I got acne. I remember sitting in the Doctor's office with my Mom, desperate to find a fast cure. My Doctor told me what every tween doesn't want to hear, "You're going through puberty. We can help keep it under control but it won't clear up until you're an adult."

Only, we never got it under control. My acne was milder but always present. Painful blotches, cysts, and wounds on my face that made me feel ugly and exposed. Just like those cliche acne commercials, I felt like all anyone would see when they looked at me was my acne. I was insecure and I caked on makeup and foundation in an attempt to hide it while I tried every antibiotic, birth control, and prescription on the market. 

Then, I became an adult and my acne didn't clear up. 

Kelly Roberts Why I Dont Wear Makeup Anymore

I've spent thousands of dollars (that could have gone to my student loans), on peels and prescriptions, all because I used to be insecure about something I have absolutely no control over.

It was frustrating. It was annoying. It was painful. It made me insecure. And I used to lose sleep over it.

Because as a runner, I can't hide from it. I'll wear tinted sunscreen and mascara, but other than that, I no longer feel the need to hide the fact that I have polycystic ovary syndrome which causes me to have adult cystic acne and subsequent acne scars.

Last year, I launched a daily vlog and one of the greatest gifts my vlog gave me was the chance to embrace my skin. Because even though my acne has its better and worse moments, I realized that I was feeling insecure about something really, really silly. It's almost identical to the struggle I faced with my body image. No one cares. People don't see my cystic acne when they see me, they see my smile or whatever emotion I'm conveying in my eyes and face. 

In college, my therapist asked me to start looking in the mirror and tell myself I'm beautiful. I thought it was stupid, refused to listen to her, and four weeks later, she asked me how it was helping me feel. I told her that I hadn't been doing it and she got real with me. She said, "Look, you can either try it or you can make the decision to hate what you see when you look in the mirror. It's your call. Just try it. If in four weeks you don't think it's changing the way you feel about yourself, you stop doing it. And then you can tell me I was wrong." 

I listened to her. It took years to fight through my body dysmorphia, but it changed my life. BUT, I only focused on weight and my size. Because my acne was something I thought I could and should "fix". So I chose to let my skin continue to make me feel insecure and imperfect. That was until I was forced to look at my face, close up, every single day while I edited my vlog. And I came the realization that I've spent so much time hating myself for something that really isn't that bad. 

Photo by Jess Barnard x Oiselle

Would I get rid of my acne if I could? Absolutely. Do I use products to keep it under control? YES. (SHOUTOUT to the amazing Dr. Zoe Perfect Face for helping me understand that perfection is in the eye of the beholder.) But do I think that my acne or acne scars make me ugly and undesirable? Hell no. And the only reason I feel that way is because I've put in the work to build that mental muscle. 

I used to put makeup on because it made me feel like I could hide. And without my acne, I thought I was a more attractive version of myself. I used to worry what other people would think of me if they saw me with my makeup off. Today, I rarely wear makeup. Every once in a while, sure. Because it's fun. I have friends who are incredible makeup artists and when they do my makeup, I look like a work of art. It's transformative. 

But I no longer feel like I need to hide what I used to see as imperfections anymore. I don't spend time ruminating over how my acne makes me less beautiful or desirable. The only person I'm concerned about is me. And if I love myself, then it's easier to allow someone else do the same.

Your acne doesn't make you ugly. It doesn't make you any less beautiful than you would be without it. The sooner you can learn to love yourself as you are, the happier you will be. But it takes hard work.  

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Kelly Roberts

It all started when a silly joke made headlines back in 2014 when I took selfies with hot guys “hottie hunting” my way through the New York City Half Marathon. But ironically enough, I haven't always been a runner. As the self-proclaimed former President of the "I f*cking hate running club", I spent most of my life finding ways to avoid physical activity. Growing up, I missed over 70 days of PE my senior year. Working out was something I thought I had to suffer through in order to lose weight. 

Then, in 2009, my younger brother passed away unexpectedly and struggling to manage my grief, I gained more than 75 pounds. With the weight gain came a new fight to regain my sense of self and learn to love the body I saw when I looked in the mirror. Then one Thanksgiving morning, drowning in grief and self doubt, I decided to go for a run. I didn't make it half way down my street before I had to stop to walk but for some reason, struggling forward made more sense than getting back into bed. It turns out that running is a lot like grief, neither ever really get easier, you just get stronger. 

Over time, I realized that while some people are in fact born runners, others are made. I created this blog Run, Selfie, Repeat and my new podcast by the same name with the hopes to inspire others to say yes to themselves while making them laugh hysterically because laughing, in my opinion, is the solution to everything. 

Named by Women's Running as one of twenty women who are changing the sport of running and by Competitor Magazine as one of 12 Influential and inspiring runners under 30, my mission is to inspire others to get embrace a healthy lifestyle and pursue the strongest version of themselves possible.