Acne positivity is the movement the fashion industry desperately needs
On your way to a night out, you pause for a second to check yourself out in the mirror. You've got the dress, the shoes are spot on, you're wearing the perfect shade of lipstick - but still, something is not quite right. No matter how flawless the rest of your appearance is, there is always going to be something a little off. Namely, the raw red bumps on your face, perhaps best described as the petulant child you never offered to babysit, but somehow ended up with anyway. No matter how much make-up you put on, or how well your hair is framing your face that day, there's a good chance you don't feel 100 per cent confident because of your acne.
Perhaps pessimism about your appearance is down to the media's representation of the perfect woman. Maybe it's an insecurity that dates back to the mean girls at school or it's entirely possible that it results from watching supermodel after supermodel parade down the catwalk looking perfect from head to toe. Whatever it is, there's one thing you need to know: while you can't change the skin you were born in, you can change your mindset.
We're hearing more and more about body positivity movements, but acne is something that is rarely discussed. However, it's believed that over 60 million people in the United States have acne, with 80 per cent of all people between ages 11 and 30 suffering through acne outbreaks at some point in life. So, the real question is, why aren't we talking about it more?
Nevertheless, cellulite's awkward cousin is finally coming out of the closet with the rise of acne positivity, the movement that is set to transform the fashion industry's conception of beauty. Acne positivity refers to the growing number of people who flat-out refuse to let their skin condition get them down. Check social media and you'll find thousands of hashtags like #acneisbeautiful and #acnedoesntmakeyouugly from people celebrating the pimples we waste our time despising. The movement gives people a chance to quit obsessing over how "awful" their spots look, and instead focus on the fact that everyone is beautiful, no matter what their skin looks like. Anyone else feel a #justdontcare hashtag coming on?
Rarely discussed in society, the long-term consequences of bad acne may shock you. Although it's well recognised that having acne can give both men and women low self-esteem, the mental health problems behind the condition are not as well acknowledged. For example, when a 2017 report from the British Skin Foundation revealed that one in five of acne patients had considered suicide, it brought to light that acne sufferers are in desperate need of more support. In addition, chronic acne has been linked to mental illnesses like anxiety and depression, with another major study discovering that individuals who experience daily breakouts are two to three times more likely to develop depression.
We've no doubt reeled off the body positivity speech to our friends time and again. But how many of us have honestly believed it when it comes to ourselves? So, what's different about the acne positivity movement? It's different this time because everyone is embracing it, collectively coming together to say "So you have acne? So what?" Take Izumi Tutti, for instance, who made constellations and flowers from her acne, or Annalise Palatine who finally found happiness when she embraced her bare face.
Perhaps the movement really came into its own though when several highly regarded models came flocking. Amazingly, model Starlie Smith wrote a love letter to her acne earlier in the year on Instagram posting "WHO CARES IF YOU HAVE ACNE YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL (A love note to myself and others struggling) #honest". It's not the first time famous faces have acknowledged their struggles with pimples, with celebrities like Lorde and Cameron Diaz speaking out in the past about having less than perfect skin. The openness highlights the fact that acne isn't something that just afflicts nerdy teenagers as we see in films, it's something that affects everyone and anyone, and something we shouldn't be ashamed of.
It will come as no revelation to anyone that the people regarded as the "most beautiful faces in the world" are a huge part of the rest of us feeling like we're not good enough - but their participation brings home the point that, although we think they're flawless, they're really not. And if they're not, how can the rest of us expect to be?
The trivial nature of society's beauty standards were again brought to our attention back in 2016 when Moto Guo sent acne-ridden models down the catwalk with no make-up on in a gender-fluid fashion show, proudly stamping down on two stigmas in a row. The models weren't wearing anything but pouts on their faces, but they looked stunning.
So, are you going to join us on this wild ride of actually feeling good about ourselves? Sounds suspicious, doesn't it? But if you give it a try, you might find you like it. Rome wasn't built in a day, and gaining self-confidence about your acne is going to take time. But there are thousands of others out there struggling just like you are, celebrities and models included, so you're definitely not alone.