Story by Agnes Sekandi
When I was in primary school, a boy once told me that I have an ugly face that I will never be able to change. I was caught off guard but I didn't know how to respond to his cruel words. I was too young then. Plus, having a face with hyperpigmentation hadn't bothered me so much back then.
Hyperpigmentation is defined as a condition in which dark patches appear on the skin. When I first started noticing the dark spots on my face, I felt really bad. They made me feel ugly.
It all started with a photo session. When I was in Grade 7, we had to take our grade and individual photos. Taking pictures hadn’t bothered me before. It was a yearly event after all.
But this time was different because this time I became more aware of the dark spots on my face. I took one look at the photos and I felt my self-esteem crumble. I didn't like how my face looked. I didn't like the spots on my face. I felt ugly compared to the kids around me.
This photo was the first in many that would make me feel insecure about my appearance. I compared myself to others repeatedly. Each time I took a photo with my friends, I'd compare myself to them.
So I started to hide my face in pictures. I would hide it in group photos. I wouldn't take selfies without half of my face being covered. I started trying out different filters in the hopes that I would look prettier.
Being a teenager, I couldn’t escape pictures. If I wasn’t taking photos, I would end up seeing them on social media and it gave me another opportunity to compare myself to others.
I just wanted to look pretty like my friends but each picture was a reminder that I wasn’t pretty. So, pictures really took a toll on how I viewed myself. I started calling myself names and my self-esteem dropped immensely.
I tried everything to get rid of them. I tried all the remedies you could think of: face masks, skincare products, home remedies and more. I even asked my mum if I could see a dermatologist. She told me that it was just puberty and that it will fade as I get older.
In 2019, I started my self-love journey. Two years had passed and I was now 15. I just didn’t want to feel bad about myself anymore. I knew I couldn't change my face, so I learnt to love and accept it.
I turned to YouTube and began watching videos on positivity and self-acceptance. However, it was easier said than done. I’d end up breaking down after taking pictures, because I still felt like I just wasn't enough. There were still times when I would let people’s comments of my face get to me.
Even today, I remember some of the hurtful comments they made about my face. I would then try to cheer myself up as quickly as possible. I would remind myself that I am still very young and that the spots are something unique and makes me who I am.
I do not hide my face anymore, I do not try to cover my spots with foundation or anything else. I take many selfies and I am genuinely happy with my face and how far I've come. I'm still on my self-love journey but one thing I have come to realize is that with or without my spots, I am still beautiful.