Forget the filters: Instagram may evoke a world in which everyone strives to look perfect, but the #Skinpositivity movement serves as a refreshing backlash. Just as #bodypositivity promotes stretch marks, less-than-slender thighs and all manner of shapes and sizes, #skinpositivity conveys a sense of acceptance. The message: acne and numerous skin ailments (from hyperpigmentation to scars) are not only widespread, but normal, and should never be considered embarrassing or even shameful.
“Just look back at 2015, when Em Ford of @mypaleskinblog unveiled just how much vitriol showcasing acne on social media brought with her viral video, ‘You Look Disgusting,’ as reported in Elle. “The pseudo-makeup tutorial, which has since collected over 27 million views, exposed real, nasty comments she received once she started posting makeup-free photos.”
A pioneer of the growing #Skinpositivity movement, Ford continues to post photos of her bare face to her two million followers on Instagram and YouTube. While the hashtag hasn't gone viral—just over 600 posts use it, along with about 200 related ones (like #acnepositivity)—its premise has. More and more, we're seeing rallying cries against acne-shaming encouraging people to embrace their skin, breakouts and all. That's not to say just ignore it, but at the same time, acne isn't a reason to feel less confident or beautiful, according to Elle.
"Acne is an insecurity for people all over," Ford wrote in an open letter to Kendall Jenner after the model shrugged off scrutiny about her visible acne on a recent Golden Globes red carpet. "I truly believe that the only way to alleviate these fears is to have more women like yourself who live life with a fearless attitude about their acne and talk about how normal it is."
In that sense, social media serves as a source of emotional validation for individuals with a variety of skin conditions. Beauty writer and consultant Kaleigh Fasanella (@kaleighfaz) has struggled with Netherton Syndrome—a debilitating skin condition marked by perennial redness, chronic flaking, and near-constant itch—since birth. “There's a part of me that can't help but wonder how things would have panned out differently if #Skinpositivity had taken place when I was 15 and covered in a head-to-toe rash (the kind that made me want to curl up and hibernate for weeks at a time),” she told Allure. “The other half of me, however, is just so happy it's happening. It means that millions of people with seemingly ‘imperfect’ skin can turn to social media for support to remember they're so far from alone.”
Such solace can come from someone else's unfiltered photo evidencing their blemished skin in its natural state, or from posting their own pictures and receiving uplifting messages of support and solidarity in the comments section, noted Allure. “Commiseration is real: It can be a powerful coping mechanism that has the potential to create a sense of community and change the course of some people's lives. (Consider that the next time a stranger shares their skin woes with you.)”
"Social media allows people to connect in a way that was not possible even a decade ago, helping people to easily find others who are suffering or going through similar issues," as London dermatologist and author of The Skincare Bible Anjali Mahto (@anjalimahto) told Allure. In fact, Mahto has been candid about her own battle with cystic acne on Instagram; she continues to share her skin journey on social media in hopes of dissolving the stigmas that skin experts—especially dermatologists—should maintain crystal-clear complexions. "This hopefully leads to positive reinforcement that it is acceptable to talk about acne and prevent a feeling of being isolated," Mahto added.
Based on the number of people—including influencers like YouTuber Ingrid Nilsen (@ingridnilsen), who have shared their own relatable skin stories, posted bare-faced selfies and supported those suffering from crippling conditions—society might be moving toward a judgment-free zone in terms of complexions. For now, “Social media has certainly become a safer space for people to strip down, forgo the filters and get raw with their followers,” said Fasanella.
YouTuber Kadeeja Sel Khan (@emeraldxbeauty) speaks out about acne and self-acceptance on her accounts, and the positive feedback she received has been overwhelming. As with any type of activism that seeks to shift societal norms, #skinpositivity hasn’t gone entirely unscathed—generating backlash from people who either fear it or fail to understand it (the two often go hand in hand). In Allure, Khan predicted that some beauty brands will never change their advertising tactics—featuring models with “perfect" Photoshopped and airbrushed skin that leads to unrealistic expectations.
And while the "real skin" movement has been beneficial in unveiling the filtered perfection on social media and normalizing common conditions like acne, it's also, by extension, minimizing the importance of treatment. "Despite this acceptance, people should never leave acne or skin conditions unattended," Mahto told Allure. "You should always seek professional help to determine any potential underlying issues to maintain good skin health."
Among Sheer Miracle’s most beneficial remedies for acne-prone, irritated and all-around sensitive skin are its DIY Detox Masks, which are safe for all skin types. The nourishing Coconut Rose formula is designed to remove toxins and impurities, fade hyperpigmentation, boost collagen and elastin production and of course, moisturize. While eliminating toxins and bacteria, the energizing Charcoal Cardamom version helps combat fine lines, age spots and wrinkles. https://www.sheermiracle.com/skin-care/
SIDEBAR: WHERE TO FOLLOW #SKINPOSITIVITY ON THE ’GRAM
Photographer Peter "PJ" DeVito (@peterdevito) created a viral portrait series that spotlights the beauty of skin diversity. While he can’t recall exactly when the skin-acceptance movement started, according to Allure, he remembered a New York blogger who opened up about her acne as the first post he saw on Instagram related to the subject.
An online community for women covering beauty and lifestyle topics, Los Angeles-based HelloGiggles was founded in part by Zooey Deschanel. A recent article provided a rundown of some of the best #skinpositive Instagram accounts around the globe—from New Jersey to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.