A young woman told how moving 1,500 miles to teach yoga on the idyllic Cayman Islands gave her the courage to document her journey as she tried a radical treatment for severe acne.
Miranda Morris, 23, had been plagued by painful cystic acne since she was 10. She then spent a decade “caking make up” on her face to hide her often bleeding spots, which had drawn hurtful comments and shattered her confidence.
However, she started using Accutane in March this year – a powerful medication used for acne and sometimes cancer – in a bid to cure the problem.
Encouraged by mum Jodie, Miranda, of Columbus Ohio, USA, shared unedited snaps of her progress, spots and all, online for all to see.
She said: “Social media creates this idea that we all need to look and be perfect.
“But it’s just not the case. If you’re honest about yourself and your imperfections and don’t try to filter them out, eventually that will shine through.
“By documenting my journey to better skin for all to see, I’ve learnt that rather than caking myself in make up and pretending to be happier than I am, it’s better to embrace the real me, complete with acne. Being honest has given me more confidence.”
Miranda insists that posting honest pictures of herself on Instagram helped her to accept herself.
She continued: “Yes, I’m having treatment for my acne, but by sharing my story it’s really helped me to embrace what I’m doing and to be confident in my own skin.
“I’d been caking my face in make-up since I was 10 years old, but since I started my Instagram, I’ve not put a shred of make up on.”
With the help of her supportive parents, Miranda tried treatments costing up to £390 a year.
“There are so many different things you can try. ” she said. “I used all sorts of different creams and oils and saw a variety of different dermatologists, but all to no avail.
“I’d even had steroid injections in my face to try and shrink the cysts once a month – but they always came back.”
With nothing working, Miranda decided to instead focus more on her yoga career and started applying for teaching jobs internationally and she secured a position as an instructor on the Cayman Islands.
“I wanted to do something different, for me, rather than just thinking about my acne,” she said. “But I was also super-hopeful that the sun and the salt water would help clear my skin.”
Ironically, the stress of living alone for the first time had the opposite effect and Miranda had a serious acne flare up.
She said: “My face just blew up. It was devastating.”
That was when she decided to try Accutane – a strong medication used predominantly to treat severe acne.
After some initial tests she was prescribed a four-month course, to see if it would finally banish the painful skin condition.
“The side effects of the drug basically mimic chemo,” she said. “Your joints start to ache, your body dries out, you get dry eyes and nose bleeds and your hair starts to fall out. My hair doesn’t fall out to the point where I’d need to shave my head, but when I brush it clumps do come out.”
It was her anxiety that prompted Miranda’s mum to suggest she created an Instagram account dedicated to sharing updates about her acne journey with her family and friends.
So, on March 24 this year, she posted her first ever unfiltered image.
“It was a particularly bad day where my skin had cysts all over it,” she said. “Only my mum was following the account at the time but putting the true version of myself out there finally felt like a huge relief. I could finally say, ‘This is me’.”
Then, a few days later, feeling brave, Miranda decided to invite her followers from her usual Instagram to follow her acne journey.
Since then, she has gained almost 200 followers.
She continued: “I try and make every post as honest as possible – no filters, no good angles, no pretend. I’m honest about how I feel about my acne and I’m honest about my treatment and how it’s affecting me. I’m not whining, I just want to tell it how it is.”
But, for now, she is happy to enjoy the confidence she has gained by sharing her story on social media.
“I feel empowered that, after almost a decade of hiding my acne, I can now be honest about it,” she said. “I feel so much lighter now I’ve finally accepted who I am. I think if everyone’s honest like this, they’ll feel so much better about themselves.”