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Hi All,

I am a 21 year old guy with moderate acne and now fairly widespread acne scars. Just have a few comments about acne that I want to get some opinions on, mainly because I think a common effect of acne is the sufferer's inability to judge how bad/good their skin is, or to make any sensible judgements about their skin themselves. Kind of like anorexia and weight in this respect - I'm at the stage where I don't trust photos or mirrors to accurately represent reality. Bit of a mindfuck. Anyway any thoughts much appreciated; a great relief to be able to anonymously share some of these things that I would never dare bring up with anyone, family included, in the 'real world ' .. ha. I guess most of these points relate more to guys than to girls because make-up changes everything.

First, sunlight ... I find that my acne has caused me to resent going out in bright sunlight and avoid meeting people unless it is dark. I am fair skinned to I go red in the sun anyway, but at times it seems a red, sunburnt face causes my acne to blend away so I sometimes see it as preferable to get burnt. Which confuses things. Generally I find my social skills and confidence completely fading away in a bright sunlight, where I cannot even make eye contact with people. Is this a common thing? Sometimes I think this is just because I'm fair skinned and not because of acne ... so if others had this problem too I'd be interested to know.

On this note, what are peoples experiences of going out to nightclubs etc. with acne, where the dark lights seem to level the playing field. This causes so many problems - meeting a girl on a night out but then unable to follow it up in the daytime. I have a lot of success with girls in nightclubs, some of whom tell me I am very attractive, but I am convinced this is an illusion caused by the lack of adequate lighting and maybe alcohol on their part. How can I figure this out? There seems to be no environment designed for meeting girls that is not dark (funnily enough). Also flash cameras - why is it they seem to remove or limit the appearance of acne?

This last one is directly for guys - how did you find your social status change when you starting getting bad acne? I personally found that other males genuinely lost a lot of respect for me in social situations. I sometimes think a guy's acne affects his status with guys more than it does with girls. Having been in a position where I would very rarely be made fun of, it was incredibly hard to deal with pretty much daily offhand insults or jokes at my expense. Did anyone else deal with this? Particularly for me, as someone who makes a lot of jokes and pokes fun at people playfully, it was difficult to react when someone responded (as they often did) with an equally playful but unintentionally soul-destroyed 'pockmarked face' comment. This led me to consider changing my personality to avoid this. I have noticed some other people with acne being extremely introverted and reserved so as to avoid provoking a comment. But now I've gone the other way: I want to provoke the comments to see what people really think. Which leads to a self-harming cycle of me trying to get people to insult my acne so I can 'discover' how they perceive me. And even then I can't be sure they actually perceive my acne as bad, or as a mild thing they can latch onto.

Then things get even more complicated. It's all very well for someone to call you 'pockmarred' or 'scarface' but if someone calls you 'ugly', is that your acne or just the shape of your face? I was never called ugly before acne, but the shape of my face may have changed as I aged. Then, if people act negatively towards my appearance, how do I know if this is acne or whether my facial shape is just an abomination and I would have been treated in such a way anyway? The one hope of the acne sufferer is getting rid of their skin problems and being 'attractive' again, but I feel like the reactions my acne has provoked has changed the way I perceive my own facial shape. For example, I swear acne makes your jawline slacker and less taut, and skin hang loose around the jowels. It also seems to change cheekbones, or at least their appearance. And I think it makes your teeth look yellower. Nose bigger, too. Is this the case? Is there any scientific precedent for any of these statements? Not suggesting acne medically changes these things, just their appearance: the way lighting falls on an uneven surface affects the contours etc.

A lot of questions in quite a confused and poorly ordered post but any thoughts would be appreciated. The thing that troubles me more than anything is the desire to just step inside someone else's eyes and see what my face looks like. Because I don't believe that mirrors/cameras/videos represent this properly, so even if I look in a mirror and am happy with my appearance, I can't believe it's truly me; if I see a photo of myself where I look good, I will convince myself it's a freakish light. Maybe because of the '3D' nature of acne in that it disrupts a surface. So I'm lost in not knowing how I am being perceived. I'm worried it's bordering on psychological problems; I have had severe depression as a result of acne in the past, and the whole 'questioning the fabric' of reality obsession doesn't bode well, and allows me to destroy any positive opinions of my appearance, as though my mind now wants my face to be unattractive.

Best

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Hi and welcome! :)

I can totally relate to a lot of that. I really freaked myself out about the whole perception thing last year, ended up being completely paranoid about it and spiraled into depression. Not all bad though because it made me see that I needed to address things. Bottom line is, it's best to learn not to care what others think because it doesn't really matter. Not that I know how, but that's the way forward.

The biggest issue is getting to grips with how you see yourself and learning to accept who you are because that brings about confidence. Once you have that and you can feel good about yourself, I reckon that is what people notice the most so they won't then notice acne so much. The problem with our own perceptions is that what we're looking at - acne - can be ever-changing and so our appearance could probably change from one day to the next, That's what makes it so difficult to come to terms with sometimes. I've always thought that way and these last couple of weeks have shown me I was right because I've been totally clear and everything looked the same each morning when I've looked in the mirror and the guy looking back at me is starting to become familiar and the image is a consistent one.

The problem with mirrors is that they all differ because of lighting. I look in the mirror in my room and see one thing, then look in the bathroom and see something different. It's certainly enough to mess up your sense of identity on a physical level. I ended up reaching the point where they only constant thing I could identify was acne so that's what I ended up defining myself by. Bad idea.

Personally, my social situation did change when my acne started. It wasn't bad but I was bullied about in school and that's when I started to feel bad about it and myself. My acne has never been severe but sometimes, even just a mild breakout was enough to make me withdraw because my confidence and self esteem were so low. So my social life has been pretty much constantly non-existent through thirteen years of acne. I need to work on that and make changes because it will only become more difficult as I get older. Plus, if my skin's now clearing up and giving me an ideal opportunity to try and put myself out there to try and pick up my social skills again, I owe to myself and my potential happiness to take that opportunity.

However you go about doing it, I wish you the best of luck in getting the better of your depression so that it's not influencing your thoughts and feelings in a negative way so much. Then maybe you will see the positive things more clearly and be able to put more focus on those good things about yourself.

:)

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On behalf of my gender, if you're going out and meeting girls that express an interest in you and then never call, that's not fair. Give us a little credit. We aren't all horrible, shallow bitches. You don't know if they'd feel any differently about you in daylight because you haven't given them a chance. And by not calling, you are inadvertently telling these girls that they aren't good enough for you.

If you want to know if it's just booze and poor lighting that makes them like you, leave the bar. Go to Starbucks.

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i was getting more girls before i took accutane then after lol... with girls its more your status rather than how you look... i mean if your walking around with boils on your face oozing with puss (lol) then you will have problems but some zits dont mean jack shit...

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Sunlight actually makes my scarring look better because the light disguises the red depressions. Cloudy days are tricky because there is no bright "yellow" light to smooth the appearance. You will look like shit under fluorescent lighting. Don't ever look at your skin under fluorescent lighting because you are setting yourself up for a major breakdown. Take comfort in the fact that everyone looks like shit under fluorescent lighting. This means avoiding Wal-Mart.

Flash cameras under yellow lighting make your acne look worse. Red marks and hyper-pigmentation are easily visible. Taking off the flash will give you an accurate photo of you appear under that lighting.

Meet girls outside of a nightclub if you want a true assessment of how you look. That is the only way to know for sure. My friends didn't make any jokes about my skin. I am sure they think it, but nobody has said anything directly to my face. On the ugly thing, how many people are going to call you ugly to your face? You could have been called ugly hundreds of times. I'm sure I have.

You want to step outside of your own body, and just stand from six feet away and make a judgment. That's never going to happen! Focus on becoming a quality person instead.

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Well, I can answer the flash camera question.

The flash on the camera tends to flatten things out, since it is a frontal light source. So basically, if the light is coming from the left, all the raised acne will leave shadows from where it blocks the light. Add a flash, and voila! It adds light to the shadows, and makes your face all one brightness, so your face looks like it's smooth.

But anyways, sometimes, you just have to accept that unless you take charge with your derm, there isn't much you can do about your skin. You can't prevent that new pimple from forming any more than you can control the girls at the club. I know it sounds cliche, but the only thing you can control is yourself, so you might as well make yourself the best you can be.

I dimmed the lights in my bathroom so my skin looks better when I look in the mirror. I don't think that there's anything wrong with purposefully altering your perception of youself in a positive way, since in the end, I'm doing everything I can for my skin, so why would I want to depress myself by shining a bright light on my initial breakout?

I honestly believe that acne makes your face shape look different. It's the texture thing again; it's the difference between a meatball and a marble.

Anyway, pertaining to your comment on girls, a friend of mine once gave me the best mantra: if she were right for you, she would be into you.

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Kid...I am not liking the way you are viewing people's appearances.

You are saying that you are judging the shape of your face based on your acne.

You are basically saying you are like a body dysmorphic anarexic.

Quite focusing so much on what you look like. You can find fault in anyone's appearance

if you just sit there and stare at them for an hour and tear them apart.

Your attitude in this respect is very unattractive to both males and females. Its actually going

to be percieved as a weakness.

Most highly attractive women are not with highly attractive men. I RARELY see a highly attractive

women with a man who is even mildly attractive.

Honestly...your obscession with appearances is making you much less desirable to females.

Why? Because it is a feminine trait...and weak.

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Upandown, you seem observant and intelligent as hell, I think it's making you over-analyze things quite a bit. Usually that's not a bad thing, but for folks like us with acne, it's goddamned torture, I can feel exactly where you're coming from for each thing you said, I'm pretty tired so I won't address it all right now but I'll take a stab biggrin.png. It's about the male status part. I think we both already know it really doesn't matter. Rock solid confidence makes you a damn boss and being a damn boss gives you status. Having acne makes you feel like shit, which makes you act like shit, and not a boss, therefor the status declines. That's my two-cents for now, work on your confidence in other ways, work out and out-muscle your peers seems like a popular option. Cut it however you'd like OP, be well and good luck.

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I think everybody can understand to an extent about being self-conscious; we all have at some point in our lives.

The important part is to take that fact and work on yourself and your perception of yourself. As for sunshine, actually, I find that sunshine tends to make people look better, more natural. Have you ever noticed how beautiful a person can look in it? Their hair, their eyes, their entire being becomes more vibrant. I would even say that sunlight is a more accurate representation of how you look to others than a mirror or any other surface. Of course, if you live someplace that is overcast most of the time, that isn't exactly true but, you understand my point I'm sure. =)

Regardless, I am not a male but I think your struggle isn't general specific. As for someone mentioning you come off as feminine, that is ridiculous. We are ALL human and all struggle with similar plights in life. Embrace yours and work towards regaining the confidence you once had. It may be cliched to say, but no one can take away anything of yours without your consent. A bit of wisdom from Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt. ^_^

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No, he is feminine, totally.

He doesn't understand why women don't like him. Its cause his characteristics are too female.

Totally obscessed with his appearance...

There are two types of people like that:

1. Females

2. Homosexuals

LOL

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@1Upanddown

I think you have allowed your acne to define you as a person; your face to the outside world. Everyone who gets acne gets self-conscious about their appearance. I know some are worse than others but they don't let their fears stop them. People will remember you more from your actions than your appearance. Trust me. Also, women are attracted to confident men. There are many resources out there to help you with that. Forget what zurichdublin188 said. Laugh off that you have the acne when you are around others. Say to yourself that you are attractive and that you will get rid of the acne. Believe its possible. Afterall, you are here for help right? So you are trying to fight it. If someone says something about your acne, say "I'm handsome and I'm in the process of...

...eliminating my acne". And genuinely believe it. You are selling yourself short and focusing on thoughts that are not in your best interest. Day by day, work on it. No matter how bad it is or how bad it gets, you're going to make it. Good luck!

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If someone says something about your acne, say "I'm handsome and I'm in the process of....eliminating my acne".

Horrible advice that does nothing to solve his torturous problem.

Most of you are way off base. The only way for you to be at peace is to accept and be okay with the fact that you are physically ugly.

As bad as that sounds, once you embrace this idea, all your stress will melt away and you can truly start the process of getting over your obsession to be "normal" (as if that word represented anything of worth)

Trust me. Acceptance of your reality = peace of mind.

Peace of mind =real confidence, which is more important to women than looks. (good women)

Edited by tritonxiv

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No, he is feminine, totally.

He doesn't understand why women don't like him. Its cause his characteristics are too female.

Totally obscessed with his appearance...

There are two types of people like that:

1. Females

2. Homosexuals

LOL

Please keep your offensive generalizations to yourself.

In a society like ours, it is completely normal to be concerned about your appearance, especially since the OP is in the age range where dating and meeting girls is so highly valued. Saying that having insecurity is feminine, and therefore, weak, is incredibly disrespectful, not only to women in general, but to everybody that has insecurity (read: everybody on earth). I'm not even going to touch on your comment about homosexuals.

And I honestly feel like I'm being trolled here, but why are you making fun of somebody for obsessing over his appearance on a board specifically meant to help people who obsess over their appearance?

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I can definitely relate to some of the ideas tossed around in here. First off, when my acne was at its worst I would never wanna be in direct sunlight or harsh lighting and often times used shadows and sometimes turned my head to hide away. I would sit on the side of class that would hide my acne best. Always being conscious of the "most presentable side of my face" and constantly adjusting how my head is turned, where I would walk, yep that was me. I also wouldn't look people in the eye and felt very uncomfortable meeting new people, being in front of an audience, just being social, etc. & I can definitely relate to acne morphing your perception of self. There were times when I would honestly feel like the most unattractive person alive. Acne definitely has that power. When your face is full of acne and you step into the sunlight accentuating every nook and cranny on your face, I think it's very reasonable to feel uncomfortable.

As far as my experiences in clubs/bars, etc. I think that everyone knows the dirty secrets about dim lights. Inside clubs, lights are low and people are just having fun letting loose. But as soon as the lights turn on @ 2am, you see everyone scatter like roaches because their true appearances are revealed. It's quite funny actually. I've also experienced meeting an attractive girl inside, only to find out she's not so hot afterall, outside in real world lighting. It's just the nature of lighting.. and the nightlife :P

Now as my face cleared up, I gained more confidence and can put myself in most social situations and feel relatively confident. As far as dealing with other guys' perceptions of me, when I had bad acne I would hide away from everyone so I didn't really put myself in any situation to be teased/called out. Now that I'm clear, I make acquaintances pretty well. I can say that I'm a pretty good-looking guy (sorry but I'm constantly told this, might as well believe it myself :P) and I don't think I'm a total douche, so I'm pretty comfortable talking to anyone casually. The only thing now is I'm sometimes told that I come across as cocky/arrogant, but that's really not the case at all. We all know people tend to judge others by appearance first so I guess I can give off a vibe that I'm full of myself. If only they knew...

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@tritonxiv

Well if my advice was “horrible”, then yours is worse. You are basically saying that “Hey. If you are poor, its ok. Accept it. It happens.” That’s a passive way of living, one that will not get want he want.

The difference between us is that you are saying “Accept it. Embrace that you are ugly.” I’m saying “Accept that you are in the process of making yourself look and feel better by working on eliminating the acne and you must believe that you are more than your acne”.

Acceptance of your reality = peace of mind…?

Sorry. I don’t believe in settling for less.

As for peace of mind = real confident…So which is it? Peace of mind =_____? Confidence comes from believing in yourself. It’s a deep seeded belief that you have what it takes to do what you want/need to do. And 1Upanddown, confidence is what will set you apart from other guys. You need to start focusing more on your personality rather than focusing on your looks. I understand how acne can affect you. I’ve been there. Limit your time with dealing with your acne and focus on making yourself a better person.

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I don't know if you didn't want females posting on this, but I never thought I'd come across someone else who also feared different lightings because of the way it sets off your skin. I feel so much more confident when I'm in dim light with people. Fluorescent is definitely *the* worst and sunshine/cloudy days are pretty bad too. I think my self confidence really slips the more unflattering the light is, and I tend not to look people in the eye.

Also, I suck at applying make up, so even if it does make a difference, I get the feeling it still looks terrible because I have no skill and absolutely hate the stuff.

I personally think that acne wouldn't "reshape" your facial features, even the deeply scarring kind. It could be that you're looking at yourself much more closely and being an over-analytical judge of your appearance that has made your nose appear bigger or your jaw slacker.

All I know is that in the pre-acne days (when I was about.. 12 and younger) I know I was never *this* obsessed with my appearance, and I think people who don't have huge insecurities probably don't criticise their looks as much as people with acne/weight or other issues.

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You are basically saying that "Hey. If you are poor, its ok. Accept it. It happens." That's a passive way of living, one that will not get want he want.

If he truly had the motivation to be acne free, he'd already be clear. Either through diet, regimen, or accutane. Right now he's just torturing himself by over analyzing the symptoms of acne. I'm not recommending people "do nothing" when they have a problem. But some people due to their individualized circumstances don't have the willpower to do what it takes. That's where acceptance comes into play.

Edited by tritonxiv

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Excellent thread :) Lots to say. Sorry this is long, but I’m interested to read more thoughts about this.

First, I completely empathize with the self consciousness and over analysis (which are oh so intimately connected) you described in your post, Upanddown. That you’re a male and feel that way was surprising and comforting. It sounds ridiculous but, as a woman with acne, I was under the allusion that we feel its psychological effects more acutely than males - which is clearly not true.

But I digress tongue.png There is something to be said for the different nature of beauty for male and females. These might sound archaic or sexist, but I think that it is generally true that women’s beauty (as an ideal) is grounded in femininity, grace, purity, and softness – even for the feminists among us. But acne is very much rough and ungraceful. In other words, while acne doesn’t make a beautiful woman ugly per se– it does present her potential mates with something that is uncharacteristic of female beauty - something they have to “get over”.

For males, on the other hand - the ugliness of acne isn’t in such direct opposition to the masculine ideals of beauty. That isn’t to say that acne adds to a man’s beauty, but rather that what women find beautiful in men isn’t destroyed by acne to the same degree feminine beauty is.

Stepping back from the gendered ramblings… The comments about the nightclub hotness/morning after ugliness, is pretty funny. We’ve all been there – either as the ugly one, or the one stunned by someone else’s “true” self.

If you’re really trying to meet someone, doing it at a place where you look significantly “better” than usual just isn’t smart. Don’t avoid the club - but if you meet someone you really like, I’d say just make sure she gets the chance to see you under a streetlight, or in a better lit hallway of the club, before you see her again.

The contrast between someone’s appearance in the club versus daylight is much more likely to be an issue when the contrast comes all of a sudden. If I see a hint of your acne the night we meet and then discover its much worse the next day, I’m mentally prepared for it. And if I’m not interested in you afterwards, you’ll know that it *most likely* wasn’t because of the acne. (On a side note – drunk girls at a club, faced with the loneliness of their bed and cat, tend to be a lot more friendly FYI.)

I speak from experience! Psychology matters. I did online dating for a while, using profile pictures that were taken in good lighting with a good bit of makeup on (makeup that didn’t look nearly as good in person). So going to meet a few of these people in person, they were under the assumption that I had flawless skin - but they abruptly found out otherwise.

The “shock” of the difference is more detrimental than the actual “ugliness” of my acne. Based on a few of these experiences, I started using pictures where you can see my skin isn’t perfect. That way – when I meet people in person, though my skin surely looks worse, it’s not as if I dropped the acne-bomb on them.

As for the comments others made about confidence…

Confidence is sexier than acne is unsexy. But to build it, you shouldn’t rely on the promise that your acne will go away. More importantly - you shouldn’t qualify your worth to others with the mantra that your “in the process of eliminating your acne”. That makes your confidence and their attraction to you a dependent clause.

True confidence can’t be grounded in anything physical, material, and temporal. You might get rid of your acne, sure. And by all means, we all should try to. But you and I won’t ever have perfect skin. The scars are forever. And soon enough we will be wrinkly, with age spots, and dentures… Oh my!

Side note #2: A friend of mine who has always had worse acne than me, met her fiancé recently. He tells her all the time that he loves her because of her acne marks, not in spite of them. I think that’s the right attitude, even if he might have had to convince himself of it.

More practically, start looking around at the people you interact with daily. Everyone has confidence issues, unless they’re cyborgs.

Half the battle is accepting that you’re not the only one with skin or self-confidence issues. When we are so absorbed in whatever makes us self conscious, we overlook and misjudge the world. We get to thinking we are the only ones with *real* issues. I’ve caught myself saying, “yeah you have issues too, but MY acne is different…” But my insecurities and perspective occur in the a larger context (which is easy to forget) - the people I think are constantly judging my acne, are actually obsessed with their own insecurities.

But if people are judgemental or perceptive (is there a difference?) enough to notice my insecurity about my skin, then they will only be humanized to my suffering (the passion of the Zit, Ha!).

Anyone who judges me for my skin, or finds me less attractive because of it, really isn’t worth it as a human being. If they can’t get over it or accept some icky skin, then they’ll be ill suited to handle all the real ugly parts of me. (insert witty metaphor about deep pimples/deep emotional issues here)

Edited by titoziot

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