Skin Care, Beauty, Lookbook

The acne positivity movement wants us to redefine our relationship with our skin

Acne is a natural part of our bodies, so why we do we hate our pimples?

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.

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The hardest thing about having adult cystic acne has been coming to terms with the realisation that I am never going to be “cured” but the best I can ever hope for is “control” of my skin. I have suffered with spots since 1992 and still continue to do so in 2017. That’s not to say there haven’t been periods where my skin has cleared up – it has (sometimes even for a few years) – but the cysts usually return over time. The good news is that when it does come back it usually responds to oral treatment. Psychologically accepting that I am never going to “grow out of it” has been a battle through most of my 20s and 30s. Now, closer to 40, I am learning to accept that my skin will be up and down – but when it is down, I need to treat it properly and revert to medication if I need it to minimise the risk of further scarring. I am not a perfect dermatologist with perfect skin – and nor do I aspire to be. Acne gets me down in the same way it affects any adult sufferer but learning to accept treatment when I need it and enjoying the periods my skin is good has become key for good mental health. Acne can be treated and scarring can be prevented but I think we are recognising more and more it can be a chronic problem for some that may always come and go. Acceptance of this is probably the most important part of the psychological battle. Sometimes it isn’t down to what we are eating or sleepless nights or heavy make-up or anything else we are doing wrong. It is just the luck of the DNA draw in terms of our unique combination of hormones and genetics. If you are suffering with your skin there are always solutions. They do not come with the guarantee that after a round of treatment your acne will not return, but there is always something that can be done and no one needs to suffer or just put up with it. If you are struggling with your skin or it is affecting your mental health please seek early intervention from your GP or dermatologist. (Trust the dermatologist who’s had topical creams, laser, antibiotics, the pill, chemical peels, spironolactone, metformin and 9 courses of Roaccutane in 25+ years! I have tried everything🙈) #dermatology #dermatologist #boardcertified #acne

A post shared by Dr Anjali Mahto (@anjalimahto) on

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.