I’ve been wearing less makeup in my everyday life, and that’s a good thing for me right now. Today I’m posting totally unedited, completely makeup-free photos of my face. It’s something I need to do.
When a woman posts a photo of herself on social media without makeup, it’s supposed to be an empowering act. It’s about baring your bare face to the world. It’s supposed to be an exercise in self-love. And that’s wonderful. But unfortunately, it’s an act of empowerment that, in its current practice, isn’t as inclusive as it could be, because of society’s general views on what constitutes “beautiful” skin. For the past few years, I’ve wanted so badly to feel like I could go out in public without makeup on, or do an outfit post without wearing concealer. However, I’ve been dealing with chronic adult acne; something that our culture implores us to get rid of or cover up.
When you have acne, you live a life where you’re always trying to hide your face, and that really sucks. You become hyper aware of the fact that when a woman with clear skin posts a makeup-free photo for everyone to see, she’s more likely to get positive feedback than if a woman whose complexion isn’t as clear did the same exact thing. Because we’re bombarded with the idea that clear skin is what’s beautiful, and anything else is unsightly.
That’s the word I most often hear associated with acne: “unsightly.” It’s bound to make anyone who has it feel hideous.
But why should those of us with “problem skin” feel hideous? Just because we don’t have a naturally clear, even complexion? Should I be ashamed because I now don’t cover my entire face in concealer and foundation (which only inflames my skin more)? Hell to the no. I’m going to believe I’m beautiful. I’m going to know I’m beautiful. I don’t need messed up beauty standards telling me otherwise.
My acne is hereditary and hormonal. Believe me, it has nothing to do with how often I wash my face or my bedding, or from what I eat. And I think that’s true for a lot of people. Only recently have I found a treatment that actually works for me, and it was recommended to me by another person with acne, rather than someone who only has to deal with the occasional pimple. And it has helped significantly. That’s why I feel safe posting these unedited photos today, fading scars and all—because my skin has actually improved. I would have never dreamed of doing this even a month ago because it would have been too scary for me. I wasn’t ready. And it’s unfortunate that I felt that way, because I shouldn’t feel ashamed of my skin. But I still have some spots showing, and I’m not covering them up.
I recently read a great zine from Craft or DIY about the importance of including skin conditions into the body acceptance movement. It’s a great read, and very relatable for me personally. I wish I had read this when my acne was worse—it would have made me feel so much better—but it still helps even now that the scars are slowly fading. It’s what inspired me to finally post these makeup-free photos.
For many people, acne is just something you deal with when you’re a teenager, then afterward you get to enjoy a relatively acne-free adulthood. Apparently this isn’t how my life worked out.
And you know what? That’s okay. I’m learning to finally be happy in my own skin and love myself, acne and scars and all.