How Acne Changed My Entire Perspective About Beauty

Beauty & Style

Face Scrubs. Wash. Mirror. Face Mask. Wash. Mirror. Herbal ointments, Pinterest potions, random remedies, wash, wash, wash, mirror.

Mirror, mirror on the wall, whose skin is the clearest of them all? Not me.

But how deep of an impact does clear skin really have? Well, it's actually not a lot.

What acne is all about

Acne is widely prevalent, and around 95% of people aged from 11 to 30 have faced it at some point in their lives. But when nasty pimples appear on our skin, it seems that we face these beasts alone. As the zit grows exponentially, everyone's skin somehow glows with no blemishes whatsoever.

Acne occurs when skin pores are blocked with sebum (an oily substance that lubricates your hair and skin). The bacteria trigger inflammation. Although scrubbing your skin clear of acne sounds like a great idea, “just wash your face” doesn't cut it. In fact, it could actually lead to skin irritation and flaring of skin.

Home remedies, ranging from putting charcoal to marshmallow, are found in abundance on the Internet. Almost anything you find in the grocery store has an accompanying article on the internet that dubs such ingredients as a miracle acne remedy. What works for one, does not work for all. Your skin is unique, just like you are.

We selectively seek out individuals who do not have acne and feel worse about ourselves. But here's the deal, acne is ridiculously common.

It's absolutely okay, and you don't need to feel ashamed, humiliated or embarrassed about it.

Acne In The Media

Because high-school characters on Netflix are played by actors who are not in their teen years, the viewers hardly get to see the true, everyday pimply reality of what adolescent skin looks like. And, well, surprise, it's not clear and glossy.

Riverdale, with an average viewership of 1.05 million, follows Archie and his friends through their senior year of high school. The 16-year-olds have ceramic skin, absolutely flawless with no blemishes in sight. This is probably because the actors who play these high schoolers are around 25 years old.

The Riverdale teens are all in their 20s as they gear up for high school. No one ever says that you're expected to look like Veronica Lodge when you're in high school, but the stereotypes that these shows impose are enormous. There are hardly any characters in the entertainment industry sporting the needed authenticity.

Veronica Lodge, Riverdale Picture: The CW

Kayla Day, Eighth Grade

Authenticity. Showing skin texture, freckles, bumps, discoloration, pigmentation and acne is less about skin itself but more about being authentic. Movies such as Lady Bird and Eighth Grade are revolutionary for reasons as small as skin spots. We are so starved of representation that anything so simple, such as choosing not to cover scars, makes a huge difference. The make-up free skin makes the entire film itself more real, more believable, more authentic.

Acne Positivity Movements- The Representation Required

Acne positivity is garnering attention, and we are finally talking about it. We should have embraced it years ago, but it's never too late for society to change for the better. Social media tricks our minds into feeling ashamed about acne.

It makes us want to hide our faces, find creams, lather on lotions, and even consider sacrifices to the gods, all of which stem from our pure desperation. It seems almost natural to hide acne, thus proving our society's intolerance towards imperfection. To take a picture of yourself without face tune, filters, good lighting, and concealer should be normal- not brave.

Nothing sums it up better than the short YouTube video 'You Look Disgusting' created by Em Ford with over 30 Million views. This video is often credited with starting the acne positivity movement.

The acne positivity movement is revolutionary; it tells you that pimples are acceptable, you are beautiful, and you are not defined by your facial blemishes, but rather your reaction to adversity.

It tells you that you can be bare-faced or put on makeup to be beautiful.

Hailey Wait is a 17-year-old (her Instagram handle is @pigss) who posts selfies with inflamed skin, acne and all. It might seem trivial, but it injected courage into thousands of teens.

There are so many amazing acne activists doing incredible things on social media, and you can start by checking out Teen Vogues acne awards. Follow acne positivity pages like my face story, sofia grahn, Brian Turner, and mynameisjustP.

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A post shared by anne asteria ford (@pigss)

Acne in 60 seconds, a short video by YouTuber Alivia D'Andrea has a comment section filled with young girls embracing their skin. If you thought the video wasn't strong enough, below are a couple of the thousands of comments, all filled with rage, epiphanies, and acceptance:

"I wish no one had acne. It makes people feel insecure and feel less valuable. I wish people could empathize with those struggling with it." [luis E.]

"As someone who struggled with acne since 4th grade (I’m almost in 9th grade now), I felt this. I’ve been trying not to pick at my face so much, I put my hair up more often, and I try not to dwell on what others think of me now. I’ve definitely grown, but the acne scars are still there, and I’m still struggling with it." [earlgraymilktae]

"i have acne and i hate when people go like “you have so many pimples” it makes me feel embarrassed and ugly" [sic] [sun shine]

This Changes Everything

The acne positivity movement did something that I have never seen before: it embraced acne. Rather than making it something to cover up, it talked about it. It talked about not using makeup to hide the pimples, but instead using makeup to embellish them.

People began to appreciate their acne. They felt happy with their skin.

And this changed my entire perception of beauty.

That pimple on your face will be gone in a couple of years, but the impact it makes on your self-esteem is not skin deep.

Acne should not make this big of a difference; it should not make you want to hide your face in a paper bag. Because, acne or no acne, you are truly beautiful. Any form of facial blemishes should not convince you otherwise.

I learned that beauty, as cliché as it sounds, comes from within. The secret to glowing skin, isn't some secret moisturizer- it's actually just happiness.

When I stopped bothering about my skin so much, I found that my skin stopped bothering me. Somehow when I didn't care so much about the acne, it just faded away. More likely, the constant attention I gave to my acne made it seem like a huge deal.

I absolutely despised my skin. I'd transform my zits into volcanoes. My allergies would side with acne and collectively wreak havoc. Suddenly, filters and concealers were my best friends. The insecurities came creeping in quietly. The lack of representation and awareness made me think that my issues were just dramatized and an overreaction.

I still struggle with how I view my skin and body, but I'm thankful for it all. I'm grateful for my skin, for my scars and texture, and for the occasional zit. When my dermatologist explained acne to me, it seemed so very simple. It's baffling how a little sebum can do so much for self-image.

It took me a long time to get from where I was before- hiding my face under layers of concealer or instagram filters- to where I am now- embracing my skin for its beauty. I owe a lot of this to my friends who I could always call and count on, my family who barred me from the raiding the fridge for home remedies, and my dermatologist who brought in a dose of reality to the mix.

It wasn't a smooth journey (pun intended), but it taught me more than I can ever explain in words.

So trust me when I ask you to put that concealer down for today. Let your skin be free and not flaky and powdered. Your skin is beautiful just the way it is.

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A post shared by Sofia Grahn (@isofiagrahn)

And when you look in the mirror, tell yourself:

I am beautiful.

This is my face, and I am beautiful.

Acne is not permanent, and you are so much more than how you look.

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the most beautiful of them all? In all the lands, both near and far, you are the most beautiful, you are.

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Nikhita Makam

Nikhita Makam is a 16 year old high school student by day and a poet by night. She is author of "14 works by a 14 year old" and a writer for The Teen Magazine. Nikhita spends her time writing, reading, watching dog videos, gardening, wondering about ladybugs and battling the common enemy to all high school students: homework.