Acne: A Step Closer to Self Acceptance

The body positivity movement has been a beacon of change in the media and its treatment of beauty standards. With the help of small organizations on the internet promoting self-love to big-name corporations creating inclusive commercials and products, people’s perception of themselves have started to shift for the better. Of course, there is still plenty more to overcome in this area. Still, this shift in mindset shows how impactful the promotion of self-acceptance can be. Seeing someone embrace insecurity similar to ours helps us better come to terms with our own bodies.

From weight gain to body hair to stretch marks, the body positivity movement seems to have tackled many of the most prominent and universal insecurities. However, there is still one naturally occurring feature that many people cannot move past the embarrassment of, and that is acne.

Acne is one of the most common features that can cause insecurity. With nearly 80% of Americans experiencing acne at some point in their life, it is clearly not something odd or disgusting. However, this is the message that is conveyed through media and perpetuated by many. This can be especially seen in teen movies, the same age range that is most impacted by acne. From a single pimple ruining prom night to the geeky kid with a face full of acne, the tropes are repeated over and over again. While it may not feel like anything more than a harmful joke in the moment, young people internalize these perceptions and will start to see their own acne as something shameful.

This mindset makes young people desperate to get rid of their ‘unsightly’ acne in any way possible. We all have, or know someone who has, fallen into the trap of trying all sorts of methods to get rid of hormone-induced acne (maybe some people had better luck, but for myself the only remedy was time). Some teens tried their luck with treatments like Proactive, others concocted at-home face masks, a few cut their own bangs to try and shield their foreheads, while many went on acne quelling medication. The lengths that young people went through to avoid the unsavory stereotype that go along with acne have been known to cause serious physical damage and negatively impact their self-image.

However, things are starting to change in the way young people view their relationship with acne. There has been a slow rise in ordinary people uploading pictures of their skin, red bumps, and acne scars in full view. As small as this may seem, it can do a lot for many people’s confidence. Those with acne can see their bumps as something neutral or beautiful. Even for people who have ‘grown out’ of their acne, watching others embrace their own skin can help dissolve the fear that comes whenever they look at a picture from their past. Normalizing and accepting our acne can bring us one step closer to feeling unburdened by beauty standards.