“I Bully My Skin for Being Imperfect Even When It Does so Much to Keep Me Healthy”

Before I sit down at my desk each morning, I've already checked off a lengthy wellness checklist. I wake up early to meditate, write, exercise, and journal. But the thing I do even before all that—my pre-morning ritual, if you will—might be the least mentally healthy part of my day. Before my eyes are even open, I reach my hands up to my face to run my fingertips over any new acne that's bloomed overnight.

I'm not even fully awake, and yet I'm already sizing up how "pretty" I'll feel for the rest of the day. I'm creating expectations for what I'll see when I peer into the mirror. For far too long, I've considered my acne a total failure on the part of my body's largest organ. Like, "Hey, you had one job! To be clear." But recently, a dermatologist reminded me that even though so much of the narrative around skin is that it should be blemish-free, the organ serves functions apart from replicating every airbrushed magazine ad ever.

"It’s got metabolic function, it’s how you produce your Vitamin D, it’s got immune functions," says London-based dermatologist Anjali Mahto on a recent episode of the Deliciously Ella podcast. "Our skin is such an important organ." I know, all of this should come with a great big "duh" on the end of it. Of course my complexion has roles that go far beyond aesthetic. But when a huge crop of cystic acne is glaring at me in the mirror, it can be easy to forget just how much my skin hustles to keep me healthy.

I've made a pact with myself to course correct my inner-dialogue when a zit or two crops up on my T-zone.

After the dermatologist's reminder, I've made a pact with myself to course correct my inner-dialogue when a zit or two crops up on my T-zone. Because: Just like I need to remind myself that I'm doing my very best on days when the struggle is real real, my skin deserves that same treatment. I know it won't be an immediate change. In fact, I'm willing to bet that tomorrow morning when my alarm goes off, I'll automatically take stock of the whiteheads that have moved in overnight.

But just like meditating or journaling or anything else, cheerleading for my skin (rather than bullying it) is a practice.

Here's how one writer came to terms with her zits, and why she turned to a pill to treat it.  

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