One minute, I would be crying. The next, a voice in my head would scold me, “What the fuck are you crying for? Snap out of It!” Then I’d wipe the tears off my cheeks, and sit up straight as if nothing had just happened.
This would be after another encounter with yet another stranger giving me unsolicited advice on how to treat my acne. On this particular occasion, I was getting a haircut, minding my own business, when my barber said I needed a man to help me get rid of my frustrations so my acne could go away. I just looked at him, stunned, and then everyone started laughing. I felt hurt and embarrassed, but held it in until I got home and cried my eyes out.
I’ve had to get used to strangers hurting my feelings everyday
The incident at my barber, which happened earlier this year, wasn’t the first. People are constantly giving me advice because I have dark acne spots on my face, which I wear with confidence without trying to cover them in make-up, and I think this annoys people. It also doesn’t help that I have a bald head, so there is no hair or braids to hide behind.
I grew up with a pimply face and oily skin, but it was only when I started varsity that people felt confident enough to give me weird advice. Some said I should apply light-brown shoe polish or use clay. Just like my barber, some said it was just sexual frustration, and I just needed to get a man.
But the thing is I don’t mind the way my skin looks. I like it the way it is; spots and all. I don’t even feel the need to hide it. I look different, and that’s okay. Just like people who have light or dark skin or even freckles, I may not look like you, but this is the face I love, and I wish people could just let me be.
I don’t want to be your version of perfect
I would have gone to get professional help for my pimples had my family been able to afford it, but they couldn’t, and still can’t. My skin is healthy, and I cleanse, tone and moisturise it like everyone else. But I also wear my imperfections with confidence, and wish that people would accept that no one is perfect, and that’s okay, deal with it and stop hurting people’s feelings with your nasty comments.
Working at a place like Live Mag with other young people has also helped me realise that it’s okay to be different. Everyone here looks their own way, and goes about their business with confidence. I just wish more people would adopt that attitude, especially men, because they never comment on each other’s skin but feel the need to do that to women.
Photography by Athenkosi Guntu