Let’s Get Personal

How many of you guys are familiar with a website called Tumblr? Back in the day, that was my holy place. From the ages of maybe 15-19 years old, I lived on Tumblr. It was a place where I could post whatever I wanted, whether it was fashion related, a poem I just wrote, or long letters to myself. It was the best place to vent because not very many of my “real life friends” used the site or followed me on it. It was pretty much all strangers interacting with me. Other depressed kids, or kids with cool style who lived in New York. I loved having these people follow me, reply to me, and give me advice. It was like an escape from reality. It opened up a door to different cultures, art, music, ways of thinking…stuff I couldn’t get from my mostly white suburb in Texas. Most of the time, it didn’t feel like the people around me locally could relate to anything I was struggling with. I was embarrassed to talk them anyway. It was much easier to type out my feelings and get feedback from thousands of miles away. Spoiler alert: Tumblr isn’t the same anymore and I haven’t used the site in years. But because of that, I also feel like I haven’t gotten the opportunity to “type out my feelings” much lately.

Twitter is the closest I’ve gotten, but that 140 character limit is a bitch. I’m a wordy person, and I need space to really vent properly. Of course I have a youtube channel, and I’ve done some really personal vlogs on there, but it always feels like I’m stumbling over my words and thoughts. It’s hard to sit in front of a camera and speak your mind freely while also trying to be concise. I’m way more comfortable with writing. I like being able to go back and edit, add more, etc. The problem with writing is that it’s 2017 and people don’t like to read anymore. They want everything thrown at them in a 10 minute video, or they’re not here for it. So I know a lot of people are not going to take the time to read this, which is actually ideal for me, because the idea of everyone reading this does give me some anxiety. But my desire to be heard and understood, and also hopefully inspire someone or help them to know they’re not alone, pushes me to post it anyway. I will warn you right now though, that this post in particular isn’t going to be very inspiring. It’s going to be negative and quite whiney. There. You’ve been warned.

So here’s my first crack at getting personal with my writing online again. I have this blog, I own it, I might as well use it for more than just the occasional outfit post. These personal posts aren’t going to attract more followers, they’re definitely not going to bring in any extra dollars, but I miss the days when none of that mattered anyway. Being a full time social media influencer is so weird sometimes. It’s like there’s a business plan behind every little thing that I do in my life and it’s hard to just live and be human. Right now, I’m struggling. I am human, obviously. And I have flaws…a lot of them. It’s difficult to cope with personal flaws when it feels like everyone is staring at you, and some are actually waiting for you to fail or fall apart. Having said that, I still cant hide the fact that I am very insecure right now. I’m dealing with a list of issues all at once that have taken a huge hit on my confidence. I’m second-guessing the way I look, the way I talk, walk, dress, parent my daughter, you name it. Nothing feels secure, nothing feels comfortable.

Allow me to beat this dead horse one more time: I’ve had acne for the past 10 years. When I was 19-20 it went from pretty bad to really bad. It erupted into very severe cystic acne which left my whole face red, bumpy, swollen, and scarred. During those college years it definitely bothered me. I was trying to make new friends, date, get into modeling, and just have confidence at school in general. But all of that was made very difficult with my acne. At times it really did feel like it was ruining my whole life. But the good news was, at the time, I had other things going for me that allowed me to still feel somewhat confident with myself. I remember loving my figure. I never had any issues with my weight or my shape, and I had even come to really like my above average height. I had a lot of fun with different hairstyles, when at the time, not many girls around me were switching up their hair like I was…so that was something I was known for and often complimented on. I also loved fashion, I would get all dressed up for class everyday. Wore heels, flashy outfits, and even made clothing for myself. Then I ended up getting my teeth done. I now have 10 veneers which transformed my smile into the big, bright white look I always dreamed of. So all of these things helped me to still feel like myself even with a face full of severe acne. And I told myself my acne would heal soon, and then I’d have nothing to worry about.

Alas, I’m now 24 years old, and my skin is still severely broken out. The difference is, I’ve now given birth to my daughter. After her birth, I suddenly dropped 20 pounds, my hair thinned out, and my dark circles got worse. I’m a stay at home mom with no reason or motivation to be fashionable anymore…and I hate the way I look in most clothing now anyway. Everything is too loose and literally hanging off of me. I have no curves to fill out the clothing, and I feel like a child playing dress up. On a bad day, I literally see a teenage boy in the mirror. Boney, spotty, flat chested, shoulders wider than my hips. After breastfeeding, my already small boobs deflated into really sad misshapen things on my chest. So still having such bad acne on top of all of this is a much more depressing feeling than when I dealt with it in college. My overall appearance makes me angry. I avoid looking in the mirror in the morning because sometimes it causes me to breakdown. Other times, I cant stop looking in the mirror, just trying to fix things. Picking at my face, looking at my chest, applying creams and lotions, and just trying to imagine myself as a different person. I’ve never been this obsessive over my appearance before. I’ve never completely hated my body or my face. I’ve always had some level of self-confidence, some small voice in my head saying “It’s okay girl, you’re beautiful!” but that voice is dead. So much has changed.

Nobody really knows the truth. I haven’t shown many people how my bare skin really looks in normal light, on a normal day. Even in my videos where it seems like I’m being transparent, I’m using lighting and effects to still hide a little bit. I haven’t shown anyone how my breasts look now. I wear certain bras and tops to camouflage it. In photos and videos, I’m very careful about what I’m wearing, how the camera is angled and how I’m posing. It’s all an illusion compared to how I look when I’m just walking around my house. Something more obvious is that I photoshop my pictures. I edit my skin and my figure sometimes too. That’s why I don’t post very often anymore, it takes a lot of work to get something I’m comfortable posting. But when I do post, it comes across as “perfect” because it’s not real. So to people online, it seems like I’m crazy. They don’t understand what I could possibly be complaining about. Lately, I’ve been trying to post some unedited raw images and video because I feel guilty. I’m worried that people will be disappointed or shocked when they meet me in person. Especially when it comes to my acne.

From my understanding, my acne is genetic (my father really struggled with his skin too), but it’s also hormonal, and it’s also allergy related. It’s like everything is working against me. Nothing works. It always comes back. Stress causes acne, and I don’t even know how to become un-stressed. And I’m tired. I don’t have the energy to fight this anymore. I have a daughter to raise, a brand to run, friends and family to worry about. I cant spend every moment of my life worrying about what’s touching my skin, what ingredients I cant eat, taking 10 pills every morning, a 12 step skincare routine, multiple doctors appointments, etc. I’m sick of it. It should not be this hard to just feel healthy, or feel like myself again. And the funny thing is, after doing all of this, where are the results?? I’ve wasted my time obsessing over it, for years, for nothing. And even when I have decided to say “F it!” in the past, and just let life take it’s course…that makes things even worse. My skin gets worse, I lose more weight. I have to obsess over it just to maintain. And that’s still not enough. I feel absolutely disgusting. I have low energy, I’m weak, I’m nauseous, constant headaches, my face hurts, burns, itches, my body breaks out in hives, I’m pale, and thin and lifeless. And I’m tired of having to pile on pounds of makeup and “power through”. It’s not just how I look. It really is my health too.

It’s already been a year and a half since giving birth. If that was the only problem, I think it would’ve worked itself out by now. I know it’s multiple things. Depression alone is a huge factor. It causes a loss of appetite, and lack of motivation to stick to routines. It’s a vicious cycle. I’m depressed about my appearance/health, but my depression worsens my appearance/health. And it feels so wrong to be so upset about this. So wrong. It’s so vain and so shallow. It should be insignificant. I should love myself anyway. And maybe I would if I had a different career, a different history with relationships, a different passion. But I’m a single mom, trying to start dating again. I work in social media. It’s my job to be on camera, in the public eye, looking presentable. It’s my job and my passion to dress up, do my hair and makeup, and “serve looks”. But right now I hate makeup. I hate fashion. It isn’t fun anymore. I used to dream of being a fashion designer who modeled my own designs. And it hurts that people still ask me about that all the time. “Why don’t you model?!” I don’t want to be a model anymore, I gave up on that years ago when my skin first got really bad. Are you kidding me? I can’t book anything with skin like this. That’s more makeup and photoshop than any agency would be willing to deal with. The modeling industry is heartless. I got a taste of it in college. I don’t even want to be a fashion designer anymore because the whole subject irritates me now. Everything I once loved, everything I was looking forward to, things that used to make me so happy, are all sore subjects for me now. Especially that part about dating. But that’s another blog post.

It’s just crazy how your physical appearance can have such a huge effect on all aspects of your life. Like if an overweight person rejects an invitation to the beach because they don’t want to be seen in a bathing suit. It’s not just about the bathing suit, they’re also missing out on the beauty of the beach, fun with friends, a new experience. I feel that way now. The event I attended and hosted this past weekend is an example. Of course I forced myself to go because it’s work, but I was so anxious and uncomfortable in my own body the whole time, I barely remember it and definitely didn’t enjoy myself. My ears were ringing and I just wanted to leave. What was worse, was seeing all the photos that were taken of me afterwards. My heart sank. I was rushing to get ready, didn’t pack the right makeup or have time to do my hair so I felt even uglier than usual. But so many people wanted to take photos, and I wasn’t going to say no! And I also needed photos so I could have content to post. I’m so embarrassed of how I look in those photos and now they’re posted online because that’s my job as an influencer. I managed to get a couple decent photos where the lighting and posing was better, and I photoshopped them to a point where I could deal with posting them on my page, but I have no control over what everyone else posted.

The thing is, I cant wake up in a brand new shell. This shell I have is the only one I’m ever gonna get. The only thing I can do is work on it, make adjustments, and wait. I still have a few last resort tricks up my sleeve that I’m hoping will bring some relief and some results. There are no quick fixes though, it’s all going to take time. Some of it truthfully may never be fixed. I cant change my DNA. Right now, it hurts. I’m broken, I’m weak, I don’t want to face the world. Doing videos and events has become so difficult, but I cant just stop. I have to keep going and just figure it out as I go. I just don’t want my 20’s to be completely ruined by this. This is my time to feel young and beautiful. I need something to change soon.

Again, I feel ridiculous. I feel guilty and stupid for being so engulfed in this. I understand that it’s vain and shallow. But none of that makes the feeling go away. I thought maybe venting would help put things into perspective. Truthfully, after writing all of this, I’m concerned about the possibility of something like body dysmorphia. Because what I see in the mirror is so extreme, disgusting and noticeable. Yet thinking back, I still receive some compliments in person. Do people seriously not see what I see? Are they just being nice? Or am I crazy? I don’t know…

To be continued…

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  1. Raven, you are fearfully and wonderfully made. God created you the way you are for a reason. You possess qualities that are not even attainable for some. You’re a special possession to God. I really hope you can understand that. Depression is such a terrible disease. Please, I’m begging you…whatever it takes, look into seeking professional help not just for you, but for Ziya. I’m an advocate for mental health therapy and counseling, I’ve seen it change and save lives. I am proud of who you are… through your quest of life, your vulnerability and openness goes unmatched in this day and age of superficiality. Allow God to work with you, if you can, please pray to God. Things will get a little clearer after that, I guarantee. When you have a chance, look up some of these scriptures and just recite them to yourself to give you an emotional or spiritual push. Psalm 34:17-18, Psalm 139 or even try reading the book of John to learn about the power of Jesus. If you choose to read them, try reading them in an understandable version like NIV or NLT. Either way, Raven you’re in my thoughts and prayers, and you WILL fight and WIN this battle!!

  2. Hey Raven! Thank you for being so open. I can’t imagine how hard it is being a social media influencer. But just know that cystic acne don’t define you. Your weight/height don’t define you. Your character to me is what define you. I am a 23 year old mother to a three month old son and I know how hard it can be. I too suffer from acne and I also have hyperpigmentation literally all over my face. It’s so bad that I try not to wear makeup and because of that I don’t have much pictures with my son because I feel like I look ugly. He turns four months in a week and I barely have pictures with him. And the pictures I do have, I crop myself out because I can’t stand to look at the pictures. I know how annoying it is when people think they are helping you so they throw out suggestion of things to try on your face as if you haven’t already tried majority of the herbal/natural remedies and the prescription remedies for your skin.
    like do they really think we wouldn’t put an egg on our skin if that meant we would have clear skin? Like do they know proactive and acne.org ain’t that expensive for us not to try it? Sigh. All I can say is continue to do you and be a voice for people like me. You give me hope.

  3. First, I want to tell you it will get better. I too suffered (still do, I just am able to manage it now) with acne. I had perfect skin until my mid-20’s and then it hit me like a ton of bricks. I went thru many of the same emotions you described and isolated myself during the worst days. There was about a year when I was 27-28, where I avoided everyone. I made up excuses as to why I couldn’t hang out, ordered groceries online and spent a fortune on both professional care and self-care, trying to heal my acne. It was hard on me emotionally, and painful physically. You know the feeling. But it got better. It wasn’t easy, until it was. You just have to find the right rhythm. I know you’ve tried a lot already and it seems hopeless, but it’s not, and eventually you’re going to figure out that secret sauce that’ll turn your world around. I know we don’t know each other, but I’ve experienced a lot with dealing with acne (mainly hormonal adult acne) and if you ever want to chat, I’d be more than happy too. I’ll link to my acne story that I wrote about over a year ago in case you want to read it, maybe it’ll help you feel so not alone. There’s some pretty gnarly before pictures that might make you feel better about yourself 😊 And seriously, if you want to chat, let me know. Because I know your pain, and while I didn’t care much for advice from people with clear skin, or the occasional spot, I always was interested in hearing other peoples stories who experienced a hell similar to mine. It was how I eventually figured out what worked best for me. PS. That’s how I found you years ago, thru your acne videos.

  4. I love you Raven !!!!!!!! you are amazing and don’t ever think different ! I am so proud of you, I have been watching you since the beginning. You literally crack me up on snapchat and on your vlogs. You have never switched up, you have always been the same. You are such a bomb ass mother to sweet Ziya.

  5. I’m so sorry you’re feeling this way, Raven. Don’t let those feelings overcome you. I don’t want to act like I’m your parent but maybe speak with a therapist. You’re obviously a great mom seeing that Ziya is so happy and smart! You’re also so creative and artistically talented. Take the steps to get back to that fabulous Raven, try that accutane, consider therapy and nourish your body! I know you aren’t religious but I’ll be praying for ya!

  6. You shouldn’t feel guilty about how you truly feel. Whether you feel that society would deem it to be vain or unimportant these are your personal and valid life experiences that you are allowed to go through. I do hope you surpass these challenging times and once again find joy in your life

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