How Instagram filters helped me get over my acne and find my confidence

by: Ziyanda Mhlungu - 14 September 2016

ziyanda-1My sister and I were in front of a cosmetics aisle in a grocery shop recently, laughing at the fact that there wasn’t one product we hadn’t tried to cure our acne. Twelve years ago, when my acne started, this was no laughing matter.

That all changed in 2013 when I discovered that my phone had a feature called Beauty Face, which when I pressed made almost all my pimples vanish. I had been fighting acne since I was 13 and now, with just one button I could make it go away. I can snap a photo with my pimple-infested face and be able to have options of removing them like they never even existed. Many people, who take these filters for granted, will never understand the kind of confidence they have built in someone like me.

Having acne in high school was a nightmare

The social impact of having acne as a teen was huge. This was a crucial stage of developing my personality as a young adult, and peer acceptance was important. But acne made friends cruelIn grade 9 I started getting recommendations from school mates and strangers about what products I should use for my acne. They thought they were helping, not realising they were just reminding me of my flaws. Then there was that “P.I.M.P” song by 50Cent: I loved it but I would not make it my ringtone because I was afraid it would be an opening for people to tease me about my pimples.

The most hurtful time was during the hype of matric dance. Two days to the dance I still hadn’t found a partner, so I went to my maths teacher, who was responsible for the dance, to tell him I’d be dropping out. He was the one who finally found me a partner, and that boy later told me the only reason he was taking me was because my teacher had threatened to drop him from the cricket team. That’s how sad high school was for me.

Everything changed when I discovered social networks

I started using Instagram, and smart phones got smarter with apps that can make you look flawless. To see my skin smooth for the first time since I entered my teen years, to have people liking my photos and compliment me for being beautiful, even though in real life I still had my acne, got me out of my shell. In high school, I was afraid to speak and share my opinion. I could not even laugh at a joke because someone would throw the pimples in my face (excuse the pun) – to turn me into the joke. Today I’m a social butterfly, I carry my new self-esteem into the real world, into job interviews. I’ve realised that, actually, I am beautiful. I couldn’t care less that I have acne – I slay with my pimples.