Acne Acceptance : Expanding the Body Acceptance Discussion

Confession: I have acne.

Credit to:

I’ve had it since I was fourteen, and it hasn’t really gone away since. Acne is a fascinating topic because it is predominantly overlooked when discussing body image. This is probably because acne is seen as transient, something that happens when you’re a teenager and goes away as you get older. Even though having acne increases depression and suicidal attempts. But unlike some other beauty standard fallacies (like strict body type standards), lots of normal men and women have clear skin too. So with acne, comes the “Why me?” question.

Acne is predominantly genetic, but the myths surrounding acne, particularly the idea that diet links to acne, can make it difficult to transition into a healthier state of mind. This isn’t to say that you can’t control your acne to some extent; not picking your face, pulling your hair back, and regularly washing your pillow sheets can do wonders in meditating acne breakouts. But I’m also an advocate for not living in the future – meaning, don’t wait until you have something before you can let yourself be happy. There’s no reason to wait to have clear skin, before you can be healthy and whole.

But the skin care industry is a multibillion dollar operation, averaging at 43 billion dollars in the US, for a reason. The skin care industry offers hundreds of different methods and antidotes to the acne dilemma. And just by typing “acne” into a search, you’ll get millions of hits from teens and young adults looking for ways to clear their skin, or express acne harassment from peers.

Everywhere companies like ProActiv and Neutrogena who use young, white, women to show how happy they are washing their face, and having clean skin – it seems like a call to arms. Add the fact that unlike other body image problems, acne is something that still manages to skip some women and men. Again – the “why me?” presents itself.

Problems are compounded when real life starts to sink in. Such as yesterday, my grandmother told me how bad my skin looked, how many break-outs I had. I break-out every day, but she said that this time it was worse. I wanted to die; I’ve been using Biore scrub and cleanser for over two months now and my skin still wasn’t improving?

Today, I looked at my Biore and wondered if I should throw it out. When I go to the store, I hover in the skin care section, wondering what regiment I can use to finally get rid of my scars, my pimples, my painful cysts. But, it seems like money down the drain. Wouldn’t I be better off not worrying about it at all? If acne is based on genetics, I might never have clear skin. And is that really the worse thing to ever happen to me?

By and large, I definitely think acne acceptance needs more discussion. It’s a problem that goes unaddressed, and is easily dismissed by pretty much everyone. Which is, of course, insanely problematic.


Do you have acne? Were you or your friends/family ever teased about it?

How do you handle your acne now?

7 thoughts on “Acne Acceptance : Expanding the Body Acceptance Discussion

  1. You’re so right! I struggled with acne for so many years and have only recently began to have significant changes in my skin and I’m in my mid 20s. I agree that acceptance needs to come first. Continue to write about this. 🙂

    • Thanks! I wish more people would talk about acne and the preoccupation with perfect skin! Granted, I would LOVE to have clear skin, but if it never happens (or requires a lot more effort than I am willing to give) then I need to accept my complexion for what it is instead of.. y’know, not! :3

  2. Hi Tatiana,

    I’m reading your blog for the first time, and this post definitely struck a chord. My dad just gave me a bunch of old photos, and as I looked through them one of my dominant thoughts was, “wow, I had such bad skin for so many years.” Basically age 10-20 was one continuous breakout. Now I am 27 and my skin has cleared up quite a bit, but I still break out sometimes and have a few scars.

    That said, I find your concept of Acne Acceptance to be quite empowering. One of the most powerful courses I took in college was a student-taught seminar on female sexuality, and one of my biggest take-aways from that course is that beauty comes from within, as does power, and sexuality, and love.

    Be well! I’ll be following your blog 🙂

    • Hey Leslie,

      Oh thanks for dropping by! I am still constantly breaking out and get new pimples every day. Or several times throughout the week. The worst about having acne is not so much as having it (though, that part sucks too) but what people think causes your acne. Junk food and soda are not directly linked to causing acne, which is largely genetic. Yet pretty much everyone believes that chocolate or Coke will cause a break-out. I don’t know if completely switching my diet will clear up my skin. I have family who have worse diets (or are equal with my own) who don’t have a lot of acne. So it’s frustrating on all sorts of accounts.

      But I’m glad you stopped by!! 😀

  3. Have you tried restricting/removing foods from your diet to see if it helps your skin? The only thing that has really helped my skin has been removing dairy from my diet.

    • I haven’t really thought of that. I don’t eat the same types of food regularly, my diet is anything but consistent. So I’m unsure if that’s a great place for me to start – in terms of trying to identify which foods are doing what. Generally though, I don’t eat dairy – no cheese or milk in my diet. I eat ice cream infrequently, and the same with yogurt. My mom was talking to me about seeing her dermatologist – so we’ll see if a doctor could help.

  4. Pingback: The Make-Up Conundrum | Wise Grrrl

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