Body positivity has officially gone mainstream, and we couldn’t be happier about it. But why hasn’t skin positivity followed? No matter where you look (social media, TV, magazines), it’s hard to find anything other than representations of clear, pimple-free, glowing skin. How might that be affecting how we think about skin in general?
To answer that, perhaps it’s time to take a good, hard look at the language you use to describe skin. Terminology like “good skin” and “bad skin” has been so deeply ingrained in popular culture for so long that you might be using them without a second thought.
Don’t believe us? Let’s try a thought experiment. Close your eyes and think about the words “bad skin.” We’re willing to bet that you’re instantly transported to a world of pimples, whiteheads, and acne cream galore. And when you do the same experiment while thinking of “good skin,” images of clear, glowing complexions start swimming through your mind, right? (Maybe you also hear a choir of angels singing in the background—hey, no judgement; the long-term internalized skin dialogue is real.)
Thankfully, there are a couple of changes you can make now to change the acne narrative and start feeling better about your skin—no matter what stage of your complexion journey you happen to be in.
Alter Your Language
Instead of thinking about skin in such rigid, polarizing terms, we challenge you to change the narrative in your head and just strive for “healthy skin.” Because, of course, we all want healthy skin. And this means developing and maintaining a strong skin barrier and properly functioning microbiome, which often leads to, yes, clear skin. Great!
But as you make your way along your healthy skin journey, we encourage you to stop and appreciate the process along the way, too—pimples and all. After all, acne is a symptom of underlying skin health issues; it can never be tied to morality or be inherently good or bad. It just is. So, while at Balm we want to help you achieve your healthiest skin ever, we want to do so by addressing the root cause of your skin issues, whether that’s inflammation, excess sebum production, a weakened skin barrier, or stress. Acne, we can handle. But “bad skin”? We simply don’t know her.
Curate Your Feed
Maybe you don’t recall a time before Instagram (honestly, same), but it’s only been a little over 10 years since the social media platform launched. Back in the early days, it was all poorly edited food porn (a minimum of two filters on each photo, thank you very much) and blurry photos of our pets. These days, Instagram has become a curated, heavily edited (but like, sans Sepia filters this time) highlight reel of our lives. The change has been gradual, so perhaps you haven’t noticed that you haven’t seen a pimple, acne scar or whitehead on your feed in, oh, we don’t know, a decade.
Thankfully, times are a-changin’,' and these days, many content creators (mostly Gen Z creators) are fighting back against the unrealistic representation of skin on social media and showing off their complexions in all their natural glory. Below is a list of accounts we love for their depictions of skin positivity and acne neutrality. We hope that adding a few of these accounts to your following list and starting to see more normal skin representation as you scroll starts to make a real difference in how you feel about your own skin over time.
Photographer Peter DeVito’s #LoveYourself project went viral a few years ago, and he continues to release photo series that highlight acne, acne scars and more.
We love Kali Kushner (aka @myfacestory)’s no-BS approach to all things skincare.
Mik Zazon’s Instagram and TikTok accounts are all about body positivity—which extends to skincare, too—and, as she puts it, “normalizing normal bodies.”
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DERMATOLOGIST Q&A: IS THERE SUCH THING AS "BAD SKIN"?