You avoid the mirror like it is Laura Oyier approaching you at some fancy restaurant, especially the ones (mirrors) at local fast food joints because for some reason, they seem to reflect a zoomed in version of you and then magnify every single blemish X100. You depend on your hands and memory to hold your hair in place most of the time because you are afraid to get your esteem lower than it already is. If you are walking in town or wherever and your eyes drift and fall on your reflection on some building window, door or wall you try to focus on other things, like how terribly creased the back of your blouse is. Or those VPLs you could easily have avoided if only you had looked at yourself in the mirror before you left the house.
You avoid making eye contact with people during conversations and when you do it is very minimal and you make sure to show the side of your face that is least affected. Most will think of you as shy, especially the sick bastards that you have looked in the eye and told off so many times before. They think that you are finally giving in, seeing as you can’t really face them and tell them for the gazillionth time why they are not your type or you bluntly are not into them. Then they will begin to build and stroke their ego and begin to torment you all over again. There should be a school that teaches men (and ratchet-ass wayward women) the difference between playing hard to get and being plainly disinterested.
As you walk along the streets you gawk and admire every smooth flawless face that passes by, whether made-up or natural. You wish and make endless prayers to the Almighty to make yours as smooth as that, or that. Or even that. Or that. You find yourself involuntarily staring for longer than is necessary and 99 out of 100 times the owner of the face raises their eyebrows at you in the “WTF Woman?!! You gay?” way. The remaining 1 will clutch their handbag or purse closer to their body in fear that you are a female mkora.
You try every product from creams to oils to soaps that promise to give 543% positive results. Three months down the line you finally gather enough courage to look at yourself in the mirror with hope. You are 543% the same face you had three months ago. You shed a tear. Then, one Tuesday, a few weeks later you are minding your business in town one time hopeless about your facial situation when a petite light-skinned saleswoman called Caro calls out to you and says she has the answer to your troubles. You smile. You always thought Jesus was male but if he comes with nice soft hair, a musical voice and a warm smile then so be it. You don’t quite fancy the fake American accent though but oh well… Caro convinces you to come into their tiny beauty stall and try out their new pimple/dark spot clearing cream from Ghana. She vividly explains to you how it will dry your oily face hence preventing breakouts. She even proves it to you by testing it on her forearm. Hope becomes a feeling you begin to have again. When she finally has you in, hook line and sinker, she names some extravagant price and you have to decide between two large pizzas and making a step, a Shrek-size step into the smooth face you have always dreamed about.
Three months after purchasing and using the ‘wonder-working’ cream, you take another hopeful look at the mirror for evaluation and you notice that your face almost has the same complexion as a toned-down Eve D’souza, while your neck and the rest of your body has that of Orie Rogo Manduli. The acne is still there, thriving and defiant. You curse Caro and wish that her soul, heart and honesty were half as beautiful as her hair. You pray that a bucketful of lice will rain on her and that all the seven plagues of Egypt plus three more specially customized for her, will befall her and her descendants to the tenth generation.
You forego selfies and avoid the camera or any picture-taking situations. The last thing you want is a permanent reminder of how bad you looked, a month or year after you are better. You spend hours on YouTube learning how to hide acne and other blemishes. Suddenly make-up will seem like the greatest invention of all time, right after Oreo/Borneo. And Scandal. You spend lots of money on beauty products, most of which you do not know how to effectively use, and the ones that you actually have a clue about will only do about half of what they ought to.
You finally save up enough money to consult a qualified doctor who prescribes the required medication. Day one two and three are okay. On day four, your skin starts to itch. Terribly. The pimples begin to open up and become tiny open wounds. Then the skin starts to peel and fall off, literally. You spend hours in front of the mirror you so much dread, rubbing the dead skin off your face. It stings and hurts like crazy. It is almost like someone is jabbing thousands of tiny sharp needles into you at the same time. You cry, involuntarily, every time you wince, smile, laugh, or even open your mouth to eat. The moisturizing effect in the cream makes you look like you’ve been swimming in cooking oil. You stay indoors, like a vampire, afraid to go out for whatever reason, because your esteem is way past the negative bar and is still on free fall. And also because you look like the back of an old alligator. You don’t want to risk going out like this because in this world and era, any sick psycho can take a picture of you and upload it on social media with some fake story of how you were found with someone’s husband and that is how God is punishing you. This is where your very caring and supportive friends come in. They will run your errands for you, bring you food and hot gossip. They make you feel like it is all okay and assure you that you will get better. In fact, the results are already showing.
You live in constant fear that your husband, boyfriend, or that guy that was just starting to like you will get grossed out and hit the road. That he will think of you as weird or terminally ill. It is worse if he has to wake up every morning next to you. I mean stinky morning breathe and unruly hair is bad already. Throw in a peeling face and you have the perfect recipe for being dumped. If he is a good one though, he will stick around and even if he will think of it as fucked up, he will not say it out loud or make you feel any worse than you are already feeling. He will send you cute texts and make you laugh your ass off every time he is around and that makes the entire thing way bearable.
Friends, acne is a serious disease. Well, not as serious as stupidity but serious all the same. So, the next time you look at that smooth unblemished face of yours in the mirror say a prayer, thanking God for it, and then say another one for me, and ask Him to help me heal faster and get better. Won’t you?