We may still live in a world obsessed with zit-free skin, but some experts agree it’s much easier to talk about acne online.
A recent article in the New York Times suggests acne may actually be cool in 2018, so much so, that celebrities and social media influencers aren’t afraid to post unfiltered photos of their skin.
Speaking with 18-year-old influencer Haliey Wait, who proudly posts pictures of her acne-prone skin on Instagram, it’snot only easier, but strangers are ready to listen.
“I realized that my appearance wasn’t the thing that made me who I am, which minimized the importance I put on the spots on my face,” Wait told the site. “I didn’t expect it to blow up the way I did. I was just posting selfies like every other teen.”
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Acne goes mainstream
The days of only seeing our favourite celebrities in glossy magazines or just on TV is over — sites like Instagram and Snapchat have allowed people to see celebs at their most vulnerable state.
For some, including Canadian pop sensation Justin Bieber, this means sharing unfiltered videos and photos about acne.
In March, Bieber posted an Instagram story showing his millions of followers his acne-filled forehead, while in February, singer Lorde also shared an Instagram story about how much acne sucked, Allure reports.
And while speaking out about acne isn’t something new, the Times notes a wave of social media influencers and beauty bloggers has also made acne less stigmatized.
Instagram user and makeup guru Em Ford (mypaleskinblog) frequently posts photos of acne-filled skin, as well as makeup tutorials on how to cover it up.
In January, when model Kendall Jenner replied to a fan who commented on her acne during the 2018 Golden Globe Awards, Ford wrote an open letter to the model for being open about her acne.
“Acne is a massive insecurity for people all over, and I truly believe that the only way to truly alleviate these worries, insecurities and fears, is to have more women like yourself, who live their life with a kickass IDGAF attitude about their acne and talk about how completely normal it is 👊🏻. I strongly believe that the more we talk about these things, the less taboo these conversations will become … The less judgmental we become of others,” she wrote on the social media page.
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But is it actually cool?
Dr. Julia Carroll of Compass Dermatology in Toronto tells Global News many young people are still insecure about acne.
“I still see a lot of young people who are very concerned about acne, although obviously the ones who aren’t concerned wouldn’t get referred to see me,” she says. “Some people like the ideas of exposing the hidden secrets and social media lends itself well to this,” she says, adding a sense of community means it’s OK to share photos of “flawed” skin.
However, she adds there is still the ongoing stereotype that acne is associated with poor hygiene and poor diet.
“This is not really true. Diet and hygiene may play a small role in acne but other contributing factors include hormonal changes and family history.”
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Jane Daly, a beauty and skincare expert and brand consultant based in Ottawa says calling it “cool” may not be the best route.
“I’m not sure how many people suffering from acne, including myself, would call it cool. Acne is not anything someone wants to have, and when we do have it, we want it gone,” she tells Global News. “From drugstore shelves to doctor’s prescriptions, there are many lotions, potions and medications out there to conquer acne. It can be painful, and it can leave physical scars. It can also leave emotional scars.”
A new generation
She does add, however, young people including generation Z, are more likely to be candid and open about their skin and acne struggles and will continue this trend.
“And this is a good thing,” she continues. “Being able to be open and unashamed when discussing acne, in addition to sharing photos, can help create a community of support. This helps one feel like they are not alone and helps reduce the stigma they may feel.”
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She credits the generation for making these positive strides.
“The whole idea of taboo subjects and feeling shame have evolved into ‘things that happen to all of us so why be ashamed?’ Things that my parents would never have accepted were ridiculous to me, and those things evolve with each generation,” she says.
“Young people today have had to deal with an accelerated digital revolution and it has helped make the world a smaller place. It’s very easy now to connect with someone who has the same problem as you.”