For many, acne is a source of pain and embarrassment. Studies have found that late adolescents with acne displayed “significantly” more depressive systems, feelings of uselessness and had lower self-esteem than those without acne. Acne can impact one’s quality of life and make people less likely to participate socially. For instance, some sufferers avoided sports like swimming for fear of revealing back pimples.

Acne has been stigmatized so much that those with it have to deal with people making cruel and incorrect assumptions about their lives. Studies show that many people find acne unattractive and many are ashamed to be seen with someone with acne. Acne can also hurt your chances of getting a job you are qualified for. It is thought that people with acne have poor hygiene or diet and that acne is contagious – all of that is bullshit.

[bctt tweet=”It is thought that people with acne have poor hygiene or diet and that acne is contagious – all of that is bullshit.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Now, a growing body positivity movement is taking on acne by showing that acne-prone skin is not only alright, but it’s also beautiful.

The movement, which has been gaining traction since 2015, prompts many influential youtube and Instagram stars to reclaim their bodies.

[bctt tweet=”A growing body positivity movement shows that acne-prone skin is beautiful.” username=”wearethetempest”]

In her viral ‘You Look Disgusting’ Youtube video, Em Ford reveals some of the nastiest comments she has gotten when she appears on screen without makeup. Ford has cystic acne and is growing tired of the need to always cover up with makeup. Her Instagram @mypaleskinblog chronicles her life as a woman living with acne. She is joined by a growing segment of bloggers – mostly women – who refuse to let their worth be dictated by messed up social standards of beauty. Kali (@myfacestory) and Hailey Wait both use their platforms to reclaim their skins, which are beautiful as they are. Wait has dealt with cystic acne since she was seventeen and admits to feeling “gross.” But her relationship with her body is slowly changing for the better.

Many have grown tired of societies standards of ‘beautiful’ skin: clear, soft, white. Now even celebrities are going against beauty standards and speaking out about their issues with acne. Kendall Jenner did not seem bothered with her acne outbreak before the 2018 Golden Globes and stunned regardless. Jenner had previously spoken about her own struggles with acne. Chrissy Teigen has talked about her ‘period skin’ and Rachel Bloom uploaded a picture straight from the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend set after an acne outbreak.

[bctt tweet=” Kendall Jenner did not seem bothered with her acne outbreak before the 2018 Golden Globes and stunned regardless.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Acne in popular media remains frustratingly stigmatized. A study of animated television shows and films for children found that movies often used acne to signal negative attributes of their characters. Meanwhile, other shows dedicated time to a protagonist obsessing over having an acne outbreak —or a singular pimple— while receiving disparaging comments from friends.

On Instagram, Peter DeVito captures gorgeous close-ups of people’s skin, often focusing on their struggles with acne. He also includes his own battle with skin prone to outbreaks.

Acne positive bloggers often deal with ‘concern trolling,’ with people commenting that they should seek medical help for their skin because it may signify underlying health issues. But dermatologists with their own skin struggles are stepping up to set the record straight. Dr. Anjali Mahto has struggled with acne since 1992, and she has sought nearly every medical intervention possible but still has her bad days. It is time to accept — she says — that many cases of clear skin are genetic.

As #acneisbeautiful grows on Instagram, many acne positive bloggers already stress the importance of listening to your skin and what it is telling you.

Some with acne are powerfully redefining beauty and are not interested in more skin interventions. After all, acne and scars can make your skin different and beautiful. However, for many cystic acne is painful, or just something they don’t want to have forever, and a lot of the movement’s stars do continue searching for clearer skin, but they also love and accept themselves as they are now.

[bctt tweet=”Some with acne are powerfully redefining beauty and are not interested in more skin interventions. ” username=”wearethetempest”]

In the Beauty Myth (1990), journalist Naomi Wolf states that women who love and embrace themselves are “threatening.” It is true that beauty often acts as something politically sedative with its racist and sexist assumptions. If you’re worried about the state of your skin, you are less likely to be fighting for what you believe in. For people with acne, this movement signals that you can be your authentic self in public without shame.


  • Saira Mahmood

    Saira Mahmood is currently a student of English at the University of Karachi. Her first love is reading, though she has been writing to make sense of the world for a long time. Saira is deeply interested in amplifying the uncensored voices and stories of Muslim women — with all the intricacies of gender, faith, mental health, sexuality, and the like preserved.

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