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“Once I falsely hoped to meet the beings who, pardoning my outward form, would love me for the excellent qualities which I was capable of unfolding.”

-Frankenstein

I am a woman who has struggled with beauty for the majority of my life.

I started having problems with frequent infectious pustules from the time I was 11 years old when my dermatologist first started handing me dose after dose of antibiotics. I was diagnosed with a severe skin condition called cystic acne, the most severe form of acne vulgaris. If you are not familiar with what cystic acne is, I have provided a couple of photographs to illustrate the condition below.

cystic-acne6 111You can imagine how a teenage girl going through middle and high school must have been treated by her peers. My cysts were mostly on the right side of my face and my nose (that would swell out three times the normal size). I would have occasional breakouts on my lips and on my forehead, as well as the peculiar location of the temples on either side of my head that would cause me severe headaches when infected with the pus-filled nodules. I had less severe cystic acne on my back than on my face, but at least I could cover my back up from staring eyes. I tried my best to cover my cysts with thick coats of foundation with little success considering how swollen my facial features were at times. Every time I looked at my face in the mirror, I did not see myself but rather a monster.

One time I suffered from a quarter sized, antibiotic-resistant cyst on the side of my cheek that stubbornly persisted for seven months until I took a knife to my face to puncture the cyst out of desperation. I remember during a particularly bad breakout I could not even sleep at night due to the severe amount of pain I was in, and I would frequently get up during the night to place ice packs on my face to try to numb the pain. I became a germaphobe, changed my diet, and applied facial creams containing salicylic acid every night (one particularly strong cream causing chemical burns) to no avail. Antibiotics were the mainstay of my daily regimen for eight years. The cysts would subside for about two to three weeks while on antibiotics only to reemerge again. I had to upgrade to more powerful medications as my stubborn acne became resistant to the smaller dosages. After many years of vigorous antibiotic treatment and trying everything available on the market, my doctor gave me a grim prognosis that I would suffer a lifelong struggle with cystic acne. At that point, I didn’t want to live anymore.

antibiotics460In April of 2012, my face was severely disfigured from a particularly bad breakout. I cleared up that last breakout and have not suffered another one since (thank Dea!). Perhaps it is coincidental, but I attribute my cure to beginning hormonal treatment via birth control pills at this time and highly recommend this treatment to any of my readers who suffer or know someone who suffers from cystic acne. I don’t claim that this would work for everyone, but I have researched into it and many cases of cystic acne are caused by hormonal imbalances.

With all that said on struggling with external beauty, I would like to end today’s post with the thought that although we should celebrate our external beauty, scars and all, as a reflection of the Absolute Beauty of Dea, we should focus more on cultivating our inner beauty. I don’t think this idea gives us the green light to celebrate ugliness (or rather, socially acceptable ugliness) as is common practice in the Tamasic, post-modern world, but rather gives us a firm spiritual background upon which to build material beauty. Inner beauty is eternal while external beauty comes and goes as we enter old age and pass on into the next life.
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