By Freya Coombes

THIS WOMAN has shared how relieved she was to be told her acne was down to high testosterone only for online trolls to brand her “a man” and demand her picture is published with a trigger warning.

Agriculture student and farm helper Shauna Murdie (22) from the Jedburgh, Scottish Borders has suffered from acne since age 15, the skin condition affecting her daily life for years.

Shauna received a lot of online abuse due to her appearance, many online trolls often misgendered her and negatively commented on her gender, sexuality and skin. Shauna was called “disgusting”, “dirty” and that she shouldn’t be allowed to post her face online without a warning.

Trolls often pushed Shauna towards Accutane to clear her skin, however, due to her previous bad reactions to medication, she refused, causing responses such as “fine, it’s your choice if you want to stay ugly”.

Despite the awful comments, Shauna has been able to embrace every part of herself, learning how to care for her skin and accepting her acneas a part of her.

Acne is a skin condition that causes spots, oily skin and can often be painful.

At first, her acne started mildly and only on her chest and back, causing minimal issues. However, after six months of developing acne, Shauna started to get breakouts on her chin, under her eyes, above her lip and on her nose. These breakouts became painful so in 2016 Shauna visited the doctor, where she was prescribed duac cream and lymecycline antibiotics.

Despite the cream helping her breakouts, it caused Shauna’s skin to become dry and itchy, leading to her decision to stop using the cream and antibiotics after just under a year.

The breakouts continued, slowly getting more severe, particularly in relation to her periods, causing massive insecurities for Shauna throughout her school and college years. Out of stress, Shauna began to pick her skin.

In December 2020, Shauna began to suffer her most severe breakout, yet which covered her whole face, back, neck, shoulders and chest, as well as causing immense pain and irritation.

This breakout also had a severe impact on Shauna’s self-esteem, causing major social anxiety. She tried many different skincare products and routines to get rid of her acne, but nothing worked.

Coming off hormone pills had also induced a bad breakout, causing the doctors to recommend she return to the hormone pill to lessen the breakouts. Following some blood tests, Shauna was revealed to have raised testosterone levels and higher than normal AMH levels.

Shauna following a bad breakout.

AMH stands for Anti-Mullerian Hormone and is a test used to check hormone levels, correlating them against the normal range for your age and gender. For women, if AMH is too high, it can prevent the development of female reproductive organs and promote the formation of male reproductive organs instead.

The doctors suspected the raised testosterone to potentially be the main cause of her skin issues.

In May of 2020, Shauna started sharing her story on social media, posting about her skin and documenting her feelings in a more positive light. This helped Shauna boost her confidence, receiving support from followers and sharing her experience. Shauna has now amassed over 9,000 followers and received over one million views on her reels.

“I first started getting acne between the ages of 15 and 16, but only on my chest and back, to begin with and it was very mild, so it never bothered me,” said Shauna.

“Around six to eight months after developing acne I started to get small breakouts around my chin and occasionally got breakouts under my eyes and whiteheads above my lips and nose.

“These breakouts were sometimes painful, so I went to the doctors where I was prescribed a cream called duac and an antibiotic called lymecycline which I think I was on for just under a year.

“I found my skin was getting very dry and itchy due to the cream and so I decided to stop the cream and antibiotics.

“I continued to get mild breakouts, with slightly more severe ones around my period and my skin was a constant insecurity for me throughout my school and college years which led me to pick my skin out of stress.

“Around December 2020 I began to suffer my most severe breakouts which covered my entire face, back, neck, shoulders and chest which was causing me great deals of pain and irritation but most of all very negatively impacted my self-esteem.

“I found myself crying regularly, hating the way my face looked, I tried multiple different skincare products and routines to try and be rid of myacne but due to a lack of knowledge, I really struggled to recognise which products were right for my skin.

“My skin had broken out as badly as I had recently come off of one of the hormone pills I tried.

“I had been suffering really bad symptoms and had been recommended to go on the pill but the pill had reacted badly with me, after multiple tries on many different pills I had decided to stop them and take a break before we moved onto the next step.

“I had recently had a blood test done which had shown for me to have raised testosterone levels and a higher AMH level than what should be considered “normal” for a woman of my age.

“The raised testosterone is potentially the main cause to my skin issues.”

Secondary school provided many concerns and knocks to Shauna’s confidence.

“Acne was never a concern for me up until I was in my teens,” she said.

“I was bullied on and off in high school but not just because of my acne, often people mocked me because of my height as I am very short, or men often bullied me due to my small chest and my upper lip hair.

“I would often be bullied for being “manly” but my acne wasn’t something that people often commented on at that time.”

Responses to her social media pages have often been harsh, causing online trolls to leave negative comments.

“I have received a lot of online abuse and negativity since my page started to grow which at times I found incredibly challenging to deal with but I always tried my best not to let it drag me down,” said Shauna.

“I had many online trolls bully me based on gender, sexuality, and my skin. I was misgendered on a regular basis which often resulted in much negativity as people thought I had too much of a “masculine” appearance to be a woman, which became something I struggled with often.

Shauna’s skin foll

“I had someone comment on my posts saying that I shouldn’t be allowed to post my face online and it should have a warning on the post to warn people before they had to see it because no one should have to look at something like that and that if I want to post my face, I should be putting my page private.

“Someone told me that my face was disgusting and that I should be ashamed of myself and that I deserve to have my skin the way it is.

“They told me that it was my own fault that my skin is the way it is and that if I simply washed my face and stopped being dirty that my acnewould go away.

“I’ve lost count of the number of times people have tried to pressure me into taking Accutane to clear my skin, and due to having bad side effects with other medications often and being made aware of the side effects of Accutane from other people taking it I just didn’t feel comfortable.

“I had someone accuse me of intentionally making my skin worse in order to get attention on my page, they continued to bother me on my page for a number of days before I had to block them.

“It was distressing as my skin was so sore and uncomfortable and I was doing everything in my power to try to clear my skin from skincare, diet changes and speaking to my doctor.

“At the time, nothing was working for me, my hormones were out of control and having someone accuse me of wanting this for attention was incredibly hurtful.”

Shauna has an excellent support network in place, her friends and family loving her no matter what her skin looks like.

“I have been very fortunate to have the unconditional love and support of my family and friends throughout my struggles with my skin and even made some wonderful new friends online along the way,” she said.

“My sisters have also struggled with skin-related issues so we always had each other to talk to about our worries and insecurities as well as helping and advising each other on things we could try to help cure acne which often resulted in some interesting DIY skincare hacks.

“It has never affected my romantic relationships; I have been in a long-term relationship with my current partner for almost five years now.

“He’s been there through all my ups and downs in life, including my struggles with hormones and my skin.

“My skin never bothered him, if I cried, he would comfort me, he made it his mission to make sure I always knew just how beautiful he thought I was.

“He would show me off any chance he got and he was always proud to say I was his partner. He always told me my skin would never matter to him and it would never change how beautiful I was and when I started posting my skin online, he was my number one supporter, commenting on every post and messaging me later on just to tell me how beautiful the post was and asking for more selfies of me that day.

“He has always been my biggest supporter through thick and thin, I have been so lucky to have such a loving and supportive partner.”

Through the support she has received, Shauna has learned to love herself again.

“The most difficult obstacle for me to overcome was my own insecurities about my skin,” said Shauna.

“When my skin was at its worst my self-esteem was so incredibly low, I felt so unattractive, my skin was inflamed and I was in so much pain, I could hardly look at myself in the mirror.

“Throughout it all I kept posting online in hopes that eventually I would be able to look at myself and see someone beautiful and over time I gained confidence in myself, no matter how many breakouts I had or how many scars I ended up with, I finally found myself feeling at peace with how I looked.

“It is still an ongoing obstacle as I do still struggle from time to time, there are still days where I struggle with how I look and I feel discouraged when I see the scars on my face or I get a new breakout but I keep reminding myself that my skin and my appearance do not define me and that I have so many wonderful people in my life who love and appreciate me just the way you are.”

Shauna shares her story on social media, receiving a lot of support online.

“I first started posting about my skin in May 2020 as, although at that time my skin concerns were very mild, I was very insecure and I needed a healthy way to be able to document my feelings and try to share my skin in a more positive light in order to help myself overcome the insecurities and as my skin worsened, I kept posting and grew stronger,” said Shauna.

Shauna’s skin in a better state. Scottish

“I became more confident in myself and ended up posting positivity content regularly not just to help myself anymore but in hopes of helping others.

“Brands reached out in support of me, allowing me to try their products and share my experiences with them on my page which helped me learn more about skincare and build a routine that could help my skin to heal as my skin had become incredibly sensitive since the breakouts had gotten bad.

“My page started to blow up around the beginning of 2021, I began to reach many more people and my following was increasing far beyond my expectations.

“I now have 9,000 followers, which might not seem like a lot but it was more than I ever expected.

“My reels were accumulating over one million views at times and I was getting in the tens of thousands of likes in my posts, I had people reaching out to me asking for support with their skin and thanking me for my posts as they found my content helpful which was so reassuring to me.

“It showed me and helped others see that we aren’t alone in this, we all deal with the same insecurities and we can all support one another.

“I would like to think my page can be a safe space for people struggling with their image, and that people feel they can talk to me about any of their concerns.

“I am now mostly dealing with acne scars covering most of my face, with still the occasional breakout…and while at times, I find myself still struggling with it, I know I am beautiful just the way I am.

“I know I have people in my life who love me unconditionally and I’m living a life that makes me happy, and that’s all that matters.”

Shauna shares some advice for those also suffering from acne.

“I want to remind each and every one of you reading this that you are beautiful exactly the way you are.

“You don’t need to change a single thing about yourself, you don’t have to look like the models in magazines to be beautiful and your beauty doesn’t have to be defined by the opinions of others around you.

“As long as you are happy and you love the way you look that’s all that matters.”

Follow Shauna’s journey at @shauna_murdie


owing a breakout.