Agony Aunt: I have severe acne and feel ugly without makeup

Tired of fights

My father and I have started fighting constantly, and it has become an almost everyday occurrence. I have never been on great terms with my dad, but we had managed to maintain our peace until recently. Ever since he quit his job, he’s become very moody and irrational, resulting in us arguing for hours every day. It has got to the point that every time we try to talk, it somehow ends up in an argument. I am sick of living like this with him and want it to stop. Please help.

The long-term issues between you and your father potentially stem from something much older, which (left unresolved) has never allowed your relationship with him to stabilise. It might help for you to ruminate over what this larger issue might be, for instance, by thinking about when the unpleasantness started, was there a particular event that triggered it, and so on. Once you have recognised it, it will help you to be more mindful of it in your present conversations with him; since this problem is probably not only evoking tension and heated words from his end, but also from yours.

Also, once you are ready, another step could be to talk to your father about the way you have been feeling about his persona lately and thus by mutual conversation, try and reach a stable middle ground. Whether or not this conversation provokes the result that you hoped for, at least you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you did try to mend your relationship.

The doubtful date

I recently got a message on my Instagram from a girl my age who I didn’t recognise but we were still following each other. We started talking, and it led to a very fun and interesting conversation. Since then, we have talked almost every day about various topics, and I felt myself slowly getting attracted to her.

Eventually, she confessed that she liked me and I told her I felt the same. We have set up a date to meet, however, I am very nervous that I am actually getting cat-fished and this could be potentially dangerous. I do have a few pictures of her, but it still feels slightly strange that she suddenly struck up conversation with me. I don’t know if I should meet her, since is really like her but I’m afraid of who I will actually meet. Is there anything I can do?

It could be that your nervousness about meeting a girl you are attracted to is manifesting itself as suspicion and worry. If you are being catfished, it is unlikely that the person you have been talking to would wait and carry conversation with you for this long before attempting to meet you.

If, however, you are still concerned, there are a couple of things you could do. Maybe casually ask her a few questions about small details that she has mentioned about herself in conversation earlier. A catfisher will not remember these minute details, and the answers will not match, which would be a cause of concern.

Second, on the pretext of deciding on a place and time of meeting, maybe you could try calling her and speaking to her. This should give you a fair idea about how genuine the person on the opposite end is.

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Acne and the agony

I have had a lot of acne and bumps all over my skin since I started puberty. I was bullied for many years over it, and that had caused me to feel really ugly. Around a year ago, I indulged myself in a little make-up to try and cover up all my acne. Ever since then, I have not left the house without applying some sort of cosmetic, and I have started receiving more attention and positive reactions from people as well, and many call me ‘pretty’ now.

However, applying make-up everyday has taken its toll on my skin and it has continued to become worse. My mother told me I have to stop putting on so much make-up, but I do not want to stop it because without it, I feel ugly. What should I do?

To begin with, having acne and bumps is not unusual. Having said that, it is not justified to be bullied about a natural condition you don’t have control over. Living in a collectivist society where responses from others translate into internalised feelings, we keep finding solutions to counter those social responses.

Having said this, applying make-up was the best solution available to you at that time. However, your solution is not effective if it makes the problem worse. In your case, having realised that applying make-up everyday has negative consequences, it is important to address your own internalised feelings and thoughts first-hand. Hence, here are some questions you can reflect on: how does having acne and bumps equate to being ugly? Who said so? Is everyone without acne and bumps labelled “pretty” by society?

The concern here is not everyone’s label to you, but rather how you feel about yourself. It is important to cherish yourself as you are and believe that our mind is more capable than we think it is. Connect to a memory where you felt extremely pretty in your eyes and look at yourself in the mirror and repeat “I am pretty” 10 times a day. Observe the feeling, tune into it, and your behaviour will orient to this new way of perceiving yourself.

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