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26 letters..

Updated: 3 days ago

Every living thing has a face — the ‘organ of emotion.’ It speaks different truths about us, even those we are willing to conceal. Our faces are a dynamic canvas in which emotions are drawn vividly, then erased and redrawn in a new expression a moment later. It is perhaps the most powerful channel of non verbal communication so that in the most simple interaction, our attention naturally gravitates to it to read what is written there. It is unusual to be drawn to someone because of their feet or dislike them because of their shoulders; of all the organs in the body it is the face you encounter first.

Angie* got up at the crack of dawn to catch a worm. But not in the literal sense. Her worm was in fact her urine. Google had told her that if she washed her face with her early morning urine, her relationship with her mirror would improve. She hated mirrors and if you ask her, they probably hated her right back. Theirs was a tumultuous relationship that began when she was 13 years old. She went to bed one person and woke up the following day a stranger. Her face, a source of grief for years to come.

What started out as a single spot morphed into a collage of whiteheads and blackheads on her light skin. Soon enough she became shackled by the chains of adolescent acne. It didn’t take long for her to start to shy away from people because she believed it was the first — and only — thing they saw on her. What followed was a slow sustained flexion of her neck downwards. When people spoke to her, she rarely looked up and if she did, she couldn’t maintain eye contact. She began to hate being outdoors and would refuse to go anywhere with her family and if they insisted, she would sit in the car and hide. It just didn’t make sense. Why was her skin rebelling against her? And only her? Her mom and older sister had clear skin. Where was this scourge coming from?

Before long, she turned to google and that is where she discovered that washing her face with her urine might work. It didn’t. So she moved to the next thing. Turmeric. And when that didn’t work she upgraded to baking soda and then raw honey. Every night she tried something new on her face. It became an obsession. She would scrub her skin raw until it burned. The more she scrubbed, the more it rebelled. One minute it was like sandpaper with small hard bumps on her cheeks, the next it was so oily you could fry a piece of steak on it. Still she applied anything and everything on it. She treated it like an unwanted guest praying each night that she would wake up to find its current state gone. Angie hated her face.

When she felt she had exhausted google, she tried the Dermatologist in her town. He prescribed some meds that further burned her skin. So she stopped them and went in search of the next solution. She had become a medical tourist. This was her life and for that period nothing else mattered. Her thoughts were not spared either. With an acne riddled face she felt she was not good enough for anything. Besides it was near impossible to engage someone who didn’t bother to look up when being addressed. The acne had eroded her confidence that she didn’t recognise herself anymore. She ended up a loner with no friends and that made it worse. She didn’t know that what you think of yourself is what you project to the world and eventually what people see.

“What is wrong with your face?” One girl at school once asked her. She would scowl and pretend she hadn’t heard them. With time she grew into a heap of resentment and low self esteem. Her mom — who was her biggest cheerleader — would constantly tell her, “Angie you are special and gifted. You are more than just your face.” But she never let her words land. Not then anyway. But her mom never gave up. She supported her and took her for every dermatological appointment. When Angie googled and found a remedy, her mom would beat down untrodden paths to look for whatever she needed. If Angie discovered that raw honey was the solution, her mom would be willing to kill the bees and harvest it herself. But none of it worked.

When she got to Uni she had reached the peak of insecurity. She was introduced to a new environment with a different set of rules. Rules no one followed. Soon, the wrong people took interest in her and it awoke her senses. They took advantage of her and she allowed it because it felt good to be noticed for once even if it was for the wrong reasons. Finally she belonged and someone thought she was beautiful. All the principles she had picked up and adopted growing up were exchanged for the good feeling of being part of a crowd. She left no stone unturned in her quest for acceptance. She was a girl with a wound that no one could heal so she experimented with everything that might soothe the ache; all the while thinking someone was doing her a favor. The high was always short lived and after the euphoria left her she was left feeling worse than before. 

By the time she was in her second year, she was a rolling stone. She had come unhinged. Her acne was a living thing. Shifting, changing, growing. And she began to entertain the thoughts of suicide. Everything was wrong with everything that she couldn’t pinpoint exactly where it hurt. What began as a fight with her face was now becoming a fight for her life. And her mom picked up on it. “Angie, I taught you better. You can do better.” And with her support she began to slowly walk away from all the destruction. She dusted her books — -that had long become spectators of her life — -and applied herself and excelled. When good things began to happen, her countenance lifted. In that space, she found out she was gifted in public speaking. Such irony that she possessed the ability to move a crowd yet couldn't explore it because of her inability to see beyond her face.

After she had graduated from Uni, her dad told her about The MD of Lintons Beauty world who is a Pharmacist and is passionate about skin care and encouraged her to seek her out. By this time she had sampled a buffet of products and had started to believe that nothing would ever work for her. And why would a lady at such levels of seniority bother with a nobody like her? Still, out of desperation, she reached out. It was that call, that steered her from a life of self loathing and self doubt. Talking to Dr Joyce became the breath of fresh air that she needed from all the pollution she had spewed on herself over the years. She took to Angie and started her on a treatment plan and connected her with a skin consultant who walked with her consistently.

The treatment plan included medication for three months, a low protein diet, facial treatments and reduced exposure to the sun. There was no room left for inconsistency. No trial and error. The treatment was a current and she let it steer her, and in three months she began to see and feel the change. It was subtle but it was there. For the first time Angie felt she could look up. She could allow the sun to warm her face and not her neck. (of course with sunscreen on ). For the first time she could hold eye contact when having a conversation without feeling like an exhibit. She didn’t realise how tired she had become of hating herself. While on treatment she developed a keen interest in skin care and enrolled at Lintons beauty college for a six month diploma in skin care. 

Angie now maintains a good skin care routine and has sustained her monthly facials. She has remained consistent and most people who know her can’t believe the transformation. She found something that works and has embraced it fully. Looking back she realises she wasn’t patient and robbed herself of her gifts and talents. She did not count her blessings and instead of focusing on what was working in her life, she picked one thing and spent her life and energy on it. She had stopped living.

“Value yourself. I didn’t and it cost me. With this second lease of life, I do and I am now able to give back to the world. My cup is no longer empty. Remember we are all products of what we want to project to the world. I thank God that I live in the age of information and there is almost always a solution for everything. That is why there are 26 letters in the alphabet. If Plan B fails you have from C to Z to try.”

Now Angie is bursting at the seams with confidence. She gained strength, courage and confidence through this experience and can now take on the next thing that comes along. She has been through different faces in life and now her whole life shows in her face and she is proud of it.


Acne is the medical term for pimples. Pimples happen when pores get clogged with dead skin and oil, and bacteria build up. Then the skin gets inflamed and can turn red or swell.

The way you take care of your skin has a big effect on your acne. Some suggestions are:

●Wash your face no more than twice a day. Use warm — not hot — water, and do not use harsh soaps. Instead, use a gentle non-soap facial skin cleanser. Do not scrub your face, because that can make acne worse and damage the skin.

●Do not pick or squeeze pimples. This can make acne worse and damage the skin. Plus it can lead to infections.

●Avoid oil-based make-up and skin products. They can make acne worse. 

And sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen.

If you have mild acne, you can try non-prescription acne products. But it is best to seek proffessional advise from a Dermatologist or Skin Care Professional.

Doctors can treat acne using different types of medicines.

Some studies have found that acne seems to be more common in people who drink a lot of milk. But more research is needed to understand the link between the types of foods people eat and acne.

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Wambui Kyama
Wambui Kyama
Sep 25, 2020

Loved the bit about our faces being a canvas... emotions are vividly drawn then erased moments later...


Sep 23, 2020

Wow Doc. I feel her fears. Our face means almost everything. It takes courage to look up to the sun when one feels their face is not up to "the standard" by their measurement.

Doc this too is a great piece.


Unknown member
Sep 23, 2020

Thanks dear. You really delved into this one forever grateful.


3 things stand out for me,actually 4

1.Am so glad she found something that works for her and most importantly that she rediscovered her worth .👏👍 'my cup is no longer empty'

2.Your use of imagery in writing is above board,well articulated and with top notch relevance,'she woke up early to catch her worm,our faces are dynamic canvas whose emotions are drawn vividly ,she was a rolling stone (genius how you left out the gathers no moss part🎇👏👊)and many others,not leaving out my favourite-the treatment was a current and she let is steer her😍'.

Not forgetting the jest,ati 'she could now look up for the sun to warm her face and not neck(of course with sunscreen)😂😂😂.the sunscreen part caught me…


Wekesa Barasa
Wekesa Barasa
Sep 22, 2020

.... Same person? 🤔

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