A #skinpositivity move: Kendall Jenner opened up about her acne when the public commented about her visible skin imperfections at the 2018 Golden Globe awards.
Photo: Instagram / kendalljenner
Social media has taken its fair share of flack; it encourages narcissism, promotes unrealistic body/skin goals (thanks to all the editing apps out there) and inspires envy for the seemingly perfect lives made of jaunts to tropical island paradises and wardrobes filled with the ubiquitous Hermès orange boxes. But as with all things in life, where there is darkness, there is also light. Despite its superficiality, platforms like Instagram and Facebook have their upside too – a tremendously powerful reach that can positively impact lives for the better.
If 2017 was the year about loving your body, then 2018 is about embracing your skin – acne, pigmentation, scars, whiteheads and all. We’re talking about the latest self-love trend that’s been picking up on social media since the beginning of the year: #skinpositivity. Feeds that were previously filled with filtered perfection are now slowly being replaced with literal #wokeuplikethis snaps of girls without a drop of makeup covering their “flaws”.
The movement actually started off back in 2015, when Em Ford of My Pale Skin Blog starting posting make up free images of herself, showcasing her acne. She received terrible and hurtful comments like “wtf is wrong with her face”, “I can’t even look at that” and “that is disgusting”, which prompted her to create a video listing all the nasty comments that has since garnered over 27 million views. It shows us the value we as a society place on having flawless skin, especially more so in Asia where we hide under umbrellas to avoid getting tanned, painstakingly go through 12-step skincare rituals at the end of a long day and splash out thousands on ampoules, masks and serums that promise glowing perfection. The truth is, like Ford, many of us struggle with a myriad of skin conditions that range from minor that-time-of-the-month breakouts to heavy scarring and cystic breakouts that take months to heal – we just don’t talk about it as openly as she does. A lucky handful will go through life blessed with good skin, but for the rest of us, take assurance in knowing that (almost) everyone goes through bad skin phases at some point of their lives, and there is absolutely no need to be ashamed of it.
Take Kendall Jenner for example, one of the most recognised and watched faces in the world. As a model and reality TV star, she is a person one would “expect” 24/7 flawlessness from, yet, she showed up to the 2018 Golden Globes with visible acne. Haters were quick to call her out, but instead of shying away from the attention, she simply shrugged it off with a simple tweet: “never let that shit stop you”, and the world moved on. The whole point of the #skinpositivity movement is to spread the message that whatever your skin condition is, it doesn’t define who you are or make you any less beautiful – it is temporary.
Today, Em Ford still posts makeup free selfies, and is one of the loudest voices for the skin positivity movement. She believes that it is only when more women embrace their skin no matter what state it is in, it is only then we can truly alleviate the insecurities and fears brought about by a condition no one truly has a say in. In fact, she has paved the way for many others to do the same, like London-based dermatologist Dr. Anjali Mahto. In December 2017, she posted a close-up selfie to her Instagram, showcasing pimples, post-inflammatory hyper pigmentation and scarring – not the skin one would “expect” from a dermatologist who has all sorts of lasers, topicals and medication at her disposal. She acknowledges this, writing that she is “not a perfect dermatologist with perfect skin”, but nor does she intend to be. In a lengthy Instagram caption, she emphasises the importance of acceptance, and that even though “adult acne gets [her] down in the same way it affects any adult sufferer”, it is just the way our DNA dictates, and sometimes, it has nothing to do with what you eat or the products you are using. Even if you have scars, modern day technology makes getting rid of them relatively painless. “There is always something that can be done, and no one needs to suffer or put up with it,” she says.
Celebrities like Ruby Rose of Orange is the new Black fame, model Belle Lucia and Korean YouTuber Hana Lee have too joined the fray, posting candid “bad skin day” photos on their social media channels, showing us that there is truly no such thing as perfection, even when it is their job to sell it. While the movement has not taken on #metoo proportions just yet, it is reassuring to know that it is picking up steam, with so many big names openly sharing their struggles with acne. It is a refreshing contrast from the perfectly made up and filtered snaps of beauty bloggers, influencers and celebrities we are used to, one that this writer hopes will one day be commonplace. It is important that we spread a message of acceptance and of self-love and being able to rise above all of one’s perceived “flaws” because honestly, the only people who notice them are yourself.
Do what you need to make yourself feel better, whether it’s applying makeup or investing in good skincare and adult acne products. If you plan to self-treat at home, you can consider products such as Mario Badescu’s Drying and Buffering Lotion that works wonders for whiteheads and cystic acne. La Roche Posay’s Effaclar Duo is a dermatologist favourite for lessening the severity of blemishes after 24 hours while correcting and preventing acne scars and pigmentation. Neutrogena’s On-The-Spot acne treatment is a wallet-friendly Benzoyl Peroxide formula that is excellent for killing acne-causing bacteria and reducing the size of your zits overnight. If prevention is your thing, Allies of Skin’s Promise Keeper Blemish Facial mask is a leave-on treatment that uses a powerful blend of AHAs, enzymes, probiotics and antibacterial cell cultures to prevent future breakouts while helping to fade old blemishes, soothe irritation and strengthening the skin’s natural protective barrier.
Just remember that even on your “worst” days, your skin probably isn’t as bad as you think. Don’t let something as temporal as acne ruin your day or make you feel bad about yourself; you are more than your skin. Honestly, if even supermodels and actors whose living demands that they look perfect can deal with bad skin, so can you.