Over the past year I’ve noticed an increase in the amount of questions I get about confidence. The rise of the skin positivity movement and a growing acceptance (at least inside our communities) of different skin types and appearances is wonderful, but it leaves some people feeling anxious or left behind. People want to be skin positive, they would love to embrace their natural skin, but have no idea how to learn to accept the flaws that they’ve disliked for so long.
If you watched my recent Instagram Live with Bioderma, I touched on the topic of confidence a little and so you might recognise the themes below.
So, how do you find confidence when you can’t stop focusing on your ‘flaws’? My number one tip is going to sound unbelievably glib. Cliched even. You’re probably going to roll your eyes. But here we go…
Everyone has imperfections.
I’m going to repeat that and I want you to really listen.
Everyone – and I mean everyone – has imperfections.
You don’t believe me and this is not your fault. The media has told us that perfection is real, that it’s available to everyone, and it is our own fault that we are falling short. Facials, hair removal, botox, fillers, plastic surgery, tanning, diets, personal trainers, hair extensions, eyelash extensions, veneers, waist trainers… the list is endless. And that’s before we even consider the great lighting, the poses, the Photoshop, and the apps that reduce, smooth, and erase.
Celebrities posting ‘make up free selfies’ after years of facials and fillers… Bloggers who promote anti-ageing skincare without mentioning their botox… Billionaires selling ‘tummy teas’ and waist trainers but who don’t also include information about their surgeries and rigid personal training regime.
To be clear, I don’t begrudge anyone who chooses any of the above, for whatever reason they choose to do them. But what I hate is the amount of secrecy around it, because that creates unfair expectation and comparison. It erodes confidence. But the idea of perfection is codswallop. Absolute piffle. Pores, hair, scars, spots, texture… that’s what’s normal. And I don’t know how we’ve reached a point where the images we see in the media are so far removed from real life, that we are shocked when we see ‘real skin’.
Think about the last time you opened a magazine or watched a TV programme, and saw someone with a pimple, or hair on their top lip, or scars (and it doesn’t count if those were in articles, adverts, or programmes about those specific skin issues). How many of them were used to signify a person who had let themselves go, was unattractive, or unpopular (or even evil)?
Imagine watching a Hollywood blockbuster film and seeing that the lead actor had acne but it wasn’t a plot point, it was just there. Or a model in a magazine feature about swimsuits who also happened to have psoriasis. This is what we mean when we talk about skin positivity – it’s about representation. We’re not saying we’re over the moon to have a skin condition, we’re not saying it’s aspirational or that we absolutely love the way we look… we’re just saying that skin conditions, visible differences, ‘imperfections’ and ‘flaws’ are NORMAL, so why aren’t we seeing them everywhere? The NHS website estimates that 95% of people 11-35 have experienced acne – but how many people on TV soaps, on the front of magazines, in adverts on the street, do you see with acne? Entire programmes that are made up entirely of teenagers, but not one of them has a single spot? Really? What impact do you think that has on the children watching them?
It’s truly bonkers when you notice these issues and realise how much we are fed the idea that perfection is the norm and anything else is wrong, when really it’s the people with great skin who are in the minority.
I could genuinely talk about this all day, but I’m going to wrap this post up with another cliche: comparison is the thief of joy. I am 5ft 5 ¾ so it makes absolutely no sense for me to look at Karlie Kloss and think ‘why don’t my legs look like hers?’ There are many reasons my legs don’t look like hers: she has great genes, a personal trainer, probably a dietician, but much more importantly she’s 6ft 2″… my legs will never look like hers!
Comparing my skin to other people’s is just as pointless.
I have a skin condition, that’s just a fact. I can’t compare myself to people who don’t have rosacea – that’s a losing game, a stacked deck. The only person I can realistically compare my skin to is my own. How is it looking compared to yesterday, a month ago, 15 years ago, and what can I learn from this? Anything else is unfair and pointless.
For all the reasons I’ve listed above I would strongly recommend changing what you visually consume on a daily basis. Look critically at the magazines you read, the TV you watch, the instagram accounts you follow… are you seeing people who look like you? Are you seeing people who don’t fit the narrow beauty standards set by the media? Are you inspired by what you see or do you feel sad, anxious, and lacking?
This has been the biggest change in mindset and confidence for me – surrounding myself with depictions of beauty that are real, different to the rigid norm, and beautiful.
I’ve included some of my favourite instagram accounts below, in case you need some inspiration (I’ll keep adding to this as I discover new accounts I love):
@scarrednotscared // @charlotteamylouise // @mynameisjustp // @ferncooke // @theconfidencecorner // @meadowsonmyskin // @thevitiligoman // @sundaymorningview // @xueli_a // @jamie_windust // @curvynyome // @julesvonhep // @brielamour89 // @healingwithmeg // @skinnoshame // @peterdevito // @bodyposipanda // @isotretinoinwiths // @freethepimple_ // @calliethorpe // @alexandra_breeze // @yasitskrishy // @cassandranaud // @_gracelatter // @tofacetheworld // @veronicayoko // @androcks // @_devinclark_
I hope you found this blog post useful – if you did, please share it on social media or with a friend. This message needs to spread far and wide and you can help that happen.
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