Shame-free acne selfies are the latest Instagram trend.
There’s a new self-love trend stirring on social media. Just as the ongoing body positivity movement has made it so stretch marks, thighs that touch, and all different body shapes are better represented and celebrated in fashion, entertainment, and beyond—the latest frontier for acceptance is a common affliction nearly everyone’s dealt with: acne.
On Instagram, where people typically project their most flattering, filtered selves, feeds are now filling with raw photos of cystic pimples, whiteheads, redness, hyperpigmentation, and scars.
This used to be taboo. Just look back at 2015, when Em Ford of @mypalefaceblog unveiled just how much vitriol showcasing acne on social media brought with her viral video, “You Look Disgusting.” 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.
Today, Ford still posts photos of her bare face to her two million followers on Instagram and YouTube. She’s one of the leading voices of the growing #skinpositivity movement. While the hashtag hasn’t quite gone viral—there are currently just over 600 posts using it, and a couple hundred on related ones like #acnepositivity—the ethos of it 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 do nothing about it—just that having pimples isn’t a reason to feel less confident or beautiful).
“Acne is a massive insecurity for people all over,” Ford recently wrote in an open letter to Kendall Jenner after the model shrugged off scrutiny about her visible acne on the 2018 Golden Globes red carpet. “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.”
Where Ford paved the way, countless others have followed. See: Kali Kushner, who captured the internet’s fascination in October 2017 for candidly documenting her efforts to manage cystic acne. Nearly every selfie she puts up is makeup-free and always accompanied by some fighting words against the stigma of skin spots.
“Acne is only temporary. An important reminder, as this is something I often forget. It does not define who you are unless you let it,” she wrote on January 6.
Meanwhile Belle Lucia, whose feed looks like any other model’s with its bikinis shots, #OOTDs, and travel images, uncharacteristically posted a side-by-side photo of her usual envy-inducing selfie with one that showed clusters of breakouts.
“No one is perfect,” she declared. “I’m posting this to hopefully help those out there suffering with acne or anyone worrying about the way they look, because when I was young I wish someone would have told me that your looks don’t define you and even the ‘models’ you see on advertisements aren’t perfect.”