Commentary: Why isn’t acne included in the body positivity movement?

(Caitlin Dutt/AQ)

I grew up reading fashion magazines and I was mesmerized by the extravagant designer dresses on every page, the eclectic makeup on runway models. I loved it all.

Over the years, I watched magazines become more inclusive of body types. A double zero was no longer the only acceptable size. Models of all different sizes began to appear on runways and magazine covers — the way it should be. I was excited about this as beauty should be celebrated by everyone and that’s not possible if some people are excluded.

While I was all for this movement, I remember looking at models, no matter what size, and thinking, “But look at their skin, it’s so perfect. It doesn’t look like mine.”

I’ve had acne since I was about 12-years-old. It started to creep up sometime in middle school: little red bumps, some blackheads and relentlessly oily skin. It was a recipe for destruction. I quickly became very self-conscious. I asked my mom to teach me how to use foundation so I could cover it, I searched the internet for hours for different skin care products to get rid of it and I picked at my skin whenever I felt a new pimple, trying to hide it before it became noticeable.

Acne has yet to be normalized, leaving people expected to cover their blemishes with makeup. (Caitlin Dutt/AQ)

Acne generally starts during middle school, but anyone who says acne is just a puberty issue doesn’t know what acne is. Over the years it only got worse. Now I’m 20-years-old, still working every day to keep things under control.

I felt like I was struggling alone the whole time. I would look at other people, constantly comparing myself to them, thinking, “Look at their skin, they don’t have to deal with acne like me.”

My beloved fashion magazines soon became a place of judgement. I searched the pages for something to make me feel better. A story about someone with acne, a picture of someone with blemished skin. I got nothing of the sort. The only acne related things I found were stories on how to clear your skin.

This only made me feel worse. Of course I wanted clear skin, but it felt like the world was telling me I had no right to accept myself while I worked on it.

It was clear skin or shame.

I’ve grown a lot more confident in myself over the years and I’ve realized I’m not the only one who deals with acne. I’ve learned how to better take care of it. I still wish acne was represented better in magazines and on TV shows. Just last week Kendall Jenner was all over the internet for having pimples under her makeup at the Golden Globes. I want judgement like that to stop.

I’m not complaining about my experience with acne or looking for pity. If it weren’t for my skin issues, I never would have discovered my passion for makeup and skincare. I’m here to give a voice to anyone going through struggles like I did. Though some days it feels like the media is failing us, you’re not alone. Acne does not make you ugly and it doesn’t make you less of a person.

I have come to terms with the fact my skin may never be flawless. Maybe I’ll always have a little blemish on my cheek, maybe I’ll always have some visible acne scars. But it’s okay, because the body positivity movement works towards acceptance and appreciation of all shapes and sizes, so I have chosen to accept and appreciate my skin, acne and all.


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