By Rebecca Drew
THIS WOMAN is trolled daily because of her acne that got so bad she’d cry every time she washed it – but she isn’t letting it stop her sharing pictures online to support other sufferers.
Speaker, influencer, and entrepreneur, Mikayla Zazon (24), from Columbus, Ohio, USA, developed acne as a teenager which left her feeling self-conscious.
Her parents took her to the dermatologist and she was prescribed various topical creams and oral medication in an attempt to soothe her skin – which worked.
At 17, Mikayla developed disordered eating and exercise habits and over the course of six years struggled with binge eating disorder, orthorexia and bulimia. When she finished recovery in April last year, she noticed that her skin started breaking out in painful acne cysts which left her in agony.
Mikayla’s acne affected her face, chest, back, and shoulders – and started to impact her daily life.
She’d divert eye contact to stop people looking at her face. She’d wake up in the morning praying that her skin wouldn’t look as painful as it felt. She’d be paranoid when queuing in shops about what those around her would think and she’d wash her face so much in the hopes that if she scrubbed hard enough, she would be gifted with a new face and skin.
Fed up with hiding her skin and living in fear of what others might think, Mikayla decided to share acne positive pictures on her social media to break the stigma surrounding skin conditions.
Since doing so, she’s been overwhelmed by positive messages from people telling her she’s inspired them to embrace the natural skin they’re in, but despite the positive reaction, Mikayla has also been subjected to nasty messages from bullies online who have told her, ‘You are an acne infested f**k.’ Thankfully for Mikayla, this just inspires her to keep spreading her skin positive message.
Mikayla started Accutane, a medication used to treat acne, earlier this month which has helped ease her skin which she often had to soothe with ice multiple times a day before. Despite this, she’s still passionate about normalising acne.
“Having painful skin stopped me from getting out of the house. I cried as I was washing my face so many times and tried so hard to make it go away. I felt so disappointed in myself and my body,” said Mikayla.
“Before Accutane, my face hurt to touch because of how inflamed it was. I had to ice my face multiple times a day. I can’t remember a life without acne on my face.
“In my experience, not trying Accutane and instead living with painful cysts on my back, shoulders, chest, and face is far, far worse.
“I’d be constantly diverting eye contact to take people’s gaze away from my face; waking up hoping that when I look to the mirror it wouldn’t look as painful as it felt; wondering what the person behind me may be thinking whilst standing in line; shying away from significant others when they start scratching my back; screaming at myself in the mirror saying, ‘why me?’ and washing my face hoping that when I’m done, I’ll have a new face and new skin.
“I’ve worked through a lot of mental struggles that come with having acne through therapy. I learned that if someone is bothered by my skin, it’s a reflection of them and not me. My confidence didn’t come from clear skin – it came from doing the inner work.
“About a year ago I remember saying to myself, ‘I know other people are struggling with this alone, too. I have to talk about it to break the stigma.’ So, I started talking about the stigma that acne has and how it’s affected my life in very big ways.
“I remember fighting with myself about whether or not to post it [the first bare-faced selfie]. It was so difficult. I wanted to hide, but I know that shame hides in secrecy so I closed my eyes and just hit post.
“Every single day I receive hateful messages. I think the worst DM I’ve ever received is, ‘You are an acne infested f**k’.
“Thankfully I was in a good mental state and I used it as fuel to keep posting more about acne.
“Every day I also receive hundreds of messages from people saying that I’ve helped them. It keeps me going.”
Mikayla shares her skin positivity journey on Instagram under, @mikzazon.
She shared her words of advice to other acne sufferers.
“Unfollow anyone on social media that makes you feel like a lesser version of yourself,” she said.
“Hang around people that truly love you. Over time, you will see that acne is just one part of you.
“Your people love your skin and how you show up just the way you are.”