College Essay: Triumph in the war on my skin

Kate XiongWhen I was 12, I declared war on my skin.

I spent years squeezing, pinching, poking and feeling pain. I felt beautiful on the inside, but self-conscious about the parts of me people could only see. I compared myself to others. I thought other kids were flawless and unconcerned about their skin. I felt different.

I know now that I have learned to embrace my differences, and I want to empower others to understand and accept their flaws, too.

I struggled with the icky stage of adolescence. Typically, I would crack jokes with my group of friends at school. But one day, one of them went too far. He was making fun of the bumps on my face. I heard whispers, and soon my friends were spitting with uncontrollable laughter.

I ran home, and I looked at the monster in the mirror. My forehead was bumpy, like the Himalaya mountains. The painful skin of nesting pus and bacteria reflected back at me. I started to jab my skin with the sharp knives of my nails. It became worse. He was right and I was embarrassed. I was stuck inside this skin under a terrible spell. I knew a dermatologist could help me, but my family didn’t know how to find one, and couldn’t afford one anyway.

I stopped hoping for a miracle. And then I mapped out a plan. I would become my own skin expert.

Every free minute I had in my busy teenage life, I roamed the Internet. It was both helpful and harmful. I discovered expensive creams, healing rocks and DIY home remedies. I was hungry to get my hands on the latest promising skin care. One after another, those products failed. And I lost hundreds of dollars.

After five years of mistakes, I was ready to discover a more natural treatment. Food.

I learned that what I ate affected my skin. I could make better choices about meats, dairy, vegetables and vitamins. Growing up, I loved food, and I didn’t think about it as I ate mostly fried meat and white rice. I learned I had to change my diet with better cooking methods such as chopping fresh crunchy vegetables and steaming them instead of panfrying. I portioned my food and even converted to brown rice. My meals were not only healthy, they were delicious.

Finally, with a more balanced diet along with basic skin care, I was starting to see results. My acne cleared up, my scars healed and any breakouts were controllable. For the first time, I felt beautiful in and out. The transformation was worth the wait. I was proud to look in the mirror and see the new me.

The obstacles and sacrifices I went through have taught me a lot. Trying hard to solve my skin issue made me realize to seek help, give back and to never give up. My goal is go to college, study dermatology and become a resource for the others who struggle with skin care. Going in depth with skin can lead me to understand it more and provide awareness.

I know it’s not easy to live with an uncontrollable condition and the bullying that came along with it. But, I know now that I have learned to embrace my differences, and I want to empower others to understand and accept their flaws, too.