‘I just don’t understand…. I feel absolutely defeated…. How the hell am I gonna fix this? I’m f*cking over this. I can’t even look myself in the mirror.’

I shit you not, these are actual texts I have sent to friends in the past year, complaining about the horrible skin breakouts that were plaguing my skin and ruining my life. If you’ve ever suffered from acne, you’ll deeply understand my pain and recognize the same struggles, or if not you might think I’m just a little vain and I need to get a grip.

Either way, I’d like to share a story with you today.

Not just a story about battling the acne monster, but also a story about overcoming the challenges of life using the power of self-love and a healthy dose of self compassion (plus a handful of makeup less selfies). Let me explain.

I used to have amazing skin!

That’s right- I used to be the kind of girl that makes everyone green with envy- smooth, youthful blemish-free skin that really glowed with health. Makeup artists would comment on how incredible my skin was, and yah, it fed into my ego. I barely needed to use foundation- just a dusting of powder and I was done. I was soo very lucky and I didn’t even realize it at the time.

Then everything changed.

After experiencing terrible difficulties with the contraceptive pill (that’s a WHOLE other story) and then trying and failing to use countless other kinds, I threw them all in the trash and came off of them completely. However, I truly didn’t know what lay in store.

A couple of weeks after quitting birth control, I noticed one or two pimples appearing. ‘No worries,’ I thought, ‘It’s just my body adjusting to the change of hormones. I can deal with this- it won’t last long.’

But then a month passed. Then two months. Then six. And now, four years later, here I am STILL battling my skin breakouts and praying that they will finally disappear one day.

Acne affected my whole life

Having bad skin was so painfully difficult. And it’s wasn’t because I’m a former model, or that I’m vain or I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to my appearance. It was more than that. Pimples had a profoundly negative effect on my life.

Those text messages I mentioned earlier have happened so many times over these past four years that I’ve lost count. My breakouts have stopped me going out and having fun with my friends, from having sleepovers with my boyfriend and from making the most of my life. And worst of all, they’ve left me feeling insecure, helpless and downright annoyed.

And do you know what my ego hates the most? I’m Sophie Gray, the creator of the health and wellness brand Way of Gray! I’m a nutritionist, aren’t I supposed to have clear skin? I eat all of the right things, drink the right amount of water and swear the “what to eat for clear skin” articles were written based on my daily routine.

But, I STILL HAVE A FACE FULL OF PIMPLES?! What the f*** is all that about?

But then something finally shifted

Whilst all of this was going on, and my battles with my skin were getting worse, I keep receiving comments about how flawless my skin looked, and it made me feel pretty guilty. Guilty because pictures of me were causing girls who also struggled with their skin to feel even worse.

Even though I never ever photoshop my images, I do have a pretty awesome make up artist who can cover even the angriest of blemishes. Something had to change.

So, one day before piling on the makeup to hide my shame, I took a picture. I wore a bare face for all to see. And to my surprise, it felt strangely empowering. The feedback was brilliant- my breakouts were helping other girls just like me to face their insecurities, and becoming their happiest and healthiest selves. This completely aligned with my Way of Gray philosophy and values. I’d managed to turn my personal challenges into an empowering tool for others.

With this new mission in mind, I started sharing more makeup less selfies. Then I started a dialogue with my followers about my issues with my skin. I started owning my breakouts instead of brushing them under the carpet called makeup. And after a few months of makeup less selfies and being more open about my own challenges, I spent less time inspecting my skin and cursing life for sentencing me to skin like this, and more time getting on with my awesome life.

Was my skin getting clearer?! Did I finally “fix” my imperfection?

No. My skin is still equally as bad.

So what changed? Well, I took back my freedom. By starting the conversation through my social media channels about my skin, by sharing makeup less selfies and doing Facebook Lives without makeup, I freed myself from the shackles my “skin” had imprisoned me in.

Because the real problem was, all that time I’d been blaming my skin. ‘My face hates me’ were the exact words I would use. It felt like it was causing my pain on purpose, like it wanted me to suffer. I’d made it into some kind of monster, when all it really wanted was my love.

The real issue was the self-sabotaging negative voice inside my head- the one that claimed my skin made me less valuable as a person, less beautiful. It claimed that my acne was belittling my credibility with Way of Gray, and for a while I believed it.

But by openly talking about the issue, I was standing up and fighting back. I was drowning out the voice by unashamedly sharing those makeup less selfies. I was draining its power and showing it that it no longer had any control. I was no longer ashamed.

How about you?

Take a moment to look at your own life now. Do you believe you need to be ‘fixed’? Are you embarrassed by a body part because its less than perfect? Are you ashamed of yourself in any way?

Sadly, the answer to those questions is most likely yes. I hear you sister, and you are not alone.

The cold hard truth is that no one is perfect – but, that in itself is why life is so wonderful.

The media has led us to believe we must fit into a certain mold to feel good about ourselves. We must have clear skin to feel worthy. We must fit in size 2 pants to feel beautiful. We must be something other than ourselves to be accepted.

Well, my beautiful, kind and loving friend, that just isn’t the truth. We CAN and SHOULD celebrate ourselves each and every day. We ARE worthy of all of the love in the world and we are drop dead f*cking gorgeous. We all are… Yah, you’re included too.

Moral of this very long and swear ridden story?

Own your insecurities. Expose them to yourself. Start a conversation with them. Take back their power and regain your freedom. No one fits into the perfect mold we believe we must achieve. So, f*ck the mold and love yourself.

Sophie x