Hailey Wait has been struggling with severe acne since the age of 11, when she developed cystic acne—where hair follicles get trapped under the skin, leaving red and painful bumps on her face.
“It almost feels like there’s this little monster egg inside your face—but you can’t get rid of it,” Wait explained to Barcroft TV. “So every time you bump into it or touch it it feels like your face is on fire.”
It started on her cheeks, then spread to her chin, then her forehead, and before she knew it it was all over her face. It was painful—to feel and to look at.
“When my acne was at its worse, I just felt like I was gross,” she said. “When it was red and splotchy I would just feel like—a garbage can, if garbage can had faces.”
At her low points, names people would call her at school—“you know, the generic ones like ‘pizza=face'”—would make her feel like she was “disgusting.”
She would feel like she didn’t fit in anywhere, even though she knew it was silly because most people get acne. So she started wearing makeup, and layered herself with foundation.
“I felt so insecure in myself I couldn’t leave the house without makeup on,” she said.
After six years of doing so, Wait decided that was enough.
“I decided to stop wearing foundation—it was only hiding me, and every time I walked out of the door, I wasn’t being myself,” she said.
She wanted to “be real with myself, and be real with other people.”
It was more than just deciding to go out with a bare face—deciding that she no longer needed to rely on foundation let Wait become more open about herself.
“Before Hailey started feeling more confident about her acne you could tell that she was more shut-in,” said Emma Baroni, Wait’s friend. “You can really tell the difference now that she’s accepted her acne.”
“She is just comfortable with herself,” Baroni said.
Wait has done more than accept herself—through Instagram, she hopes to help other teens accept their skin and feel comfortable with the way they look.
“When I started posting more without a lot of foundation I would get a lot of hate,” Wait said. People would bombard her with acne “advice” she didn’t ask for. But she was past letting that affect her choices.
Out of all my posts, I never expected a simple selfie with no filter and a face of acne to blow up so quickly, but I’m happy it turned out that way. 241 comments and counting. Some are negative, but to my surprise the vast majority are incredibly positive and uplifting. (Yes, I do read everything.) Acne is such a natural thing that everyone gets at least once in their lives and it doesn’t deter from your own beauty. It’s not gross or ugly and if someone has acne, it doesn’t mean they are dirty or that they don’t wash their face. Acne doesn’t make you ugly, but a heart filled with hate does. I will gladly take one for the team and suck up a few negative opinions, just so long as I can inspire even just one person to love themselves. I love you guys so damn much. #positivity #spreadpeace #acne #spottyandcute
“Acne doesn’t make you ugly, but a heart filled with hate does,” she wrote on one of her posts.” “I will gladly take one for the team and suck up a few negative opinions, just so long as I can inspire even just one person to love themselves.”
“I hope my story regarding acne reall helps people to realize that just because you have these imperfections doesn’t mean you’re not amazing, doesn’t mean you can’t be successful, doesn’t mean you can’t be glamorous,” she said.
From childhood to where I am now, I’ve always known that everything has a personality. From a young age it was always hard for me to decipher faces and expressions and I couldn’t read emotions as easily as other people could, so in order to cope with that I assigned a personality to everything I saw. Doors were always smiling. Cars had eyes. Flowers emitted love and their hearts were full. It broke my heart to see their stems clipped. If I dropped a stack of paper I would cry because I had accidentally destroyed a Paper Family and even if I put everything together again, I knew the paper was still sad. And I didn’t want to make anything sad. This way of coping has honestly never left me and it still breaks my heart to see so much negativity in the world. When I bullied other girls as a child I would always cry at the end of the day because I had made someone sad and I couldn’t take it back. I knew what it was like to be bullied at home and when I began inflicting my pain onto others, it only made it feel worse. Social media is weird because I see so many different sides to people and some say things they wouldn’t ever say to my face. I say things that I regret occasionally and I’m not perfect of course but I guess I just don’t understand how some people can hurt others so easily without remorse. I don’t understand it. I know the Aspergers stereotype is all about the lack of emotion but for me it’s the opposite because I used empathy as a coping mechanism. As much as I try sometimes it’s impossible for me to fully hate someone. Please treat everything in your life with gentleness, because I’ve noticed that nowadays it’s a lot easier to be filled with hate than it is to show compassion. (With that being said there’s still people commenting about my acne and I’m gonna be a little snappy because they obviously didn’t read the caption)
“Beauty is so much more than just your face.”