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Here's Why These Women Are Posting Pictures of Their Acne on Instagram

We need more of this #skinpositivity

When we talk about body-positivity, it’s a language of stretchmarks, thick thighs, and celebrating the type of curves that aren’t normalised in the media. The movement is an integral part of confronting the ways in which we police women’s bodies. Body positivity rejects a culture we’ve created that makes fat-shaming a default reaction.

What we don’t get to see in this resistance to misrepresentation is a conversation around skin. When was the last time you saw images of cystic pimples, blackheads, acne scar and hyper-pigmentation on the ‘Gram? Instagram lets us reveal and conceal certain parts of ourselves with a filter here and bomb lighting there. But what happens to the women who dare to expose the realest parts of themselves?

‘The #skinpositivity hashtag [has] paved a path for women to redefine beauty standards about their skin’

Em Ford put herself in front of the lens to answer the very same question. Ford made a video called ‘You Look Disgusting’ that’s garnered 27-million views and counting. The clip is a response to the body-shaming beauty standards when it comes to raw, unfiltered, uncensored images of skin. Ford subverted the format of the YouTube makeup tutorial by showing the harmful, ugly comments she’s received on social media for being unashamed of her acne-prone skin.

The video helped bring an issue, shrouded in silence and shame, to the fore of social media. Since Ford’s 2015 video, the influencer, with two-million followers on Instagram, still dares to bare her natural skin and remains one of the prominent voices in the #skinpositivity movement. The hashtag is still gaining traction but it’s paved a path for women to redefine beauty standards about their skin.

‘…even with a regulated diet, keeping hydrated and taking medication, there is no such thing as a flawless face.’

Fellow skin-positive activist Kali Kushner documented her struggles with cystic acne through a series of selfies on Instagram to end the stigma against ‘undesirable’ skin.

Even skin experts, like London-based dermatologist Anjali Mahto, are joining the movement to show that even with a regulated diet, keeping hydrated and taking medication, there is no such thing as a flawless face.

‘I am not a perfect dermatologist with perfect skin – nor do I aspire to be,’ Mahto said about struggling for 25 years to control her acne. The dermatologist has tried everything from birth control to Roaccutane but realised nobody’s skin is perfect.

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

Mahto wrote in her post that sometimes ‘bad’ skin is not down to what we’re doing wrong, but just a natural part of how our bodies work, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. ‘Sometimes it isn’t down to what we are eating or sleepless nights or heavy makeup 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 genetic.’

‘We need more representation that isn’t just about celebrating sharp angles, full coverage and glam shots.’

Even models from Kendall Jenner, who recently walked the red carpet at the Golden Globes flaunting her own acne, to Brianna Lopez, who posted a picture of a severe acne breakout on her Instagram account, are embracing self-love through their acne-prone skin.

{{ I didn't expect this many people to respond to this post. I want to help everyone asking what I use and I will make a short video later today explaining what i do. I have a final in like an hour so I'm just tying to study right now. My skin isn't perfect. But it has come along way and I want to share the progress with everyone}} I just wanted to make a little post about skin because I've struggled with mine so much, and i really feel like I need to stop pretending like i haven't. Especially in the industry I am trying to get into, it can be very deceiving about body image and skin. This is my skin at its worst on the lefts and now on the right. This was a hard time and I was very bothered by it. Didn't want to leave my room or even have my own parents look at me. I still have scarring left which I am working with a doctor to fix because to be a model you basically need to be "perfect". Which no one is and I am not claiming to be perfect at all. There are worse things that can happen to you in life than acne. But getting acne takes a really big toll on your life. I'm willing to answer any questions anyone might have. Just needed to get this out there because it is apart of who I am and my story. ( this was really hard to do so please don't say anything mean 🙃)

A post shared by Brianna Lopez (@briannagabrielaa) on

Women like Belle Lucia, Ruby Rose and Rachel Bloom have shared their stories of self-esteem and grappling with how society shames women with less-than-perfect bodies.

INSTAGRAM/@RUBYROSE

It’s affirming to sufferers of skin conditions and even to those of us who have ‘bad skin days’, to see influencers and activists post uncensored images of themselves – doing so challenges the status quo.

We need more representation that isn’t just about celebrating sharp angles, full coverage and glam shots. To show scars, bruises, pimples and redness is an aesthetic rooted in radical self-love and we definitely need more of that.

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