Mariia Bilenka, from Kiev in the Ukraine, struggled with acne as a teenager but attributed it to puberty. She was certain her skin would eventually improve.
“I started to get acne at the age of thirteen or fourteen years and everyone tried to convince me that it was just because of puberty,” Mariia says.
“I’m almost 23 now and still have acne. I don’t remember a time of having good skin but it wasn’t as bad as it is now, that’s for sure.”
Last year, while she was working as an au pair in Germany, Mariia’s acne flared up again to the worst it had ever been.
She doesn’t know what exactly could be the cause of her most recent acne outbreak but she thinks it could have been down to the stress of work and living away from home.
“When I was in Germany I was severely stressed which meant my skin got worse. It was in the worst condition it had ever been in my life.
“My family was far from me and I was feeling really lonely and absolutely broken, not only because of my skin but also because I really wanted to come back to Ukraine.
“I don’t know how but I found the power and motivation to go outside every single day, despite having issues with my skin,” she says.
One day Mariia discovered the acne community on Instagram and soon realised that she wasn’t alone in this struggle. She then mustered up the courage to share a bare-faced selfie of her own with the world.
Since doing this, she’s been inundated with messages of support from people who say they’ve been inspired by her.
“I started to write about acne positivity and loving yourself almost a year ago. I didn’t have so many breakouts at the time.
“I got so much support from people I don’t know but whom I’m very thankful for. It’s just incredible how they motivate me to stay strong,” Mariia says.
She added that these people would share their skin stories with her – how they’ve healed or their process of healing.
Mariia admits that she used to apply filters to her Instagram pictures to give the illusion of having perfect skin, but she knows that this isn’t a reflection of real life.
The outpouring of support she’s received for her natural pictures has given her a more optimistic outlook on life.
“The Instagram hashtag #acnecommunity shows that you’re not alone with your problems, and when you need to find love and support, the #acnecommunity helps you,” she says.
While she hasn’t received any negative comments online about her skin, Mariia has had to deal with being stared at when she’s out and about.
Stress and thinking negatively about herself are both massive triggers for Mariia’s skin but she hopes by sharing her story she can inspire other’s who are dealing with the same issue.
“Instead of covering our skin with makeup and filters all the time, let’s do something that’ll really make you feel better; a conversation with a good friend, writing what you’re thankful for, watching an inspiring movie or receiving support from the #acnecommunity.
“If you’re struggling with acne, remember that stressing and crying all the time never helps. Health trouble usually occurs because of it – acne does too,” is her inspiring message.
“There’s nothing more important than our health. If something or somebody doesn’t make you happy – leave it or them.”
Source: Magazine Features