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Skin acceptance reducing acne stigma

A new trend called skin positivity is emerging. A number of celebrities are fighting against the stigma associated with acne, and that may have positive benefits for the self-esteem and mental health of acne patients, reports The New York Times (May 28, 2018).

Recently, celebrities including Justin Bieber, Kendall Jenner, Chrissy Teigen, Lucy Hale, and social media influencers have been forthcoming about their struggles with acne. Comfort with one’s own skin health has gained traction as consumers seem to be rebelling against unrealistic beauty expectations and photo-editing apps.

“There is a cultural shift happening where people are becoming more honest,” said Matt Traube, in The Times. Traube is a psychotherapist in San Luis Obispo, Calif., who specializes in skin conditions. “People [were] embarrassed to talk about it because, unlike other medical issues, there tends to be a lot of judgment around skin,” he said.

One reason the skin positivity movement has gained so much traction is due to the increased awareness of depression and struggles with mental health that can be associated with the skin condition. A study published in the British Journal of Dermatology found a 63% increased risk of depression in a person with acne compared to a person with clear skin (Mar. 2018; 178(3):e194-e195).

It is understood that acne will not instantly create depression, but Traube agrees that acne can be debilitating. In The Times, Dr. Doris Day, a clinical associate professor of dermatology at New York University, Langone Medical Center, New York City, explains some patients blame acne for everything that is wrong in their lives, or use it as an excuse to avoid social situations.

With the increasing acceptance of acne, individuals are able to feel more comfortable in their skin and embrace their blemishes. “We’re social creatures, we want to belong—and when we have that social support, that feeling of community, that will help reduce the risk of depression,” said Traube.

The movement is not about no longer visiting dermatologists or using skin care products, but about acceptance and appreciation for skin in all its forms, explains Hailey Wait, a so called social media influencer, in The Times. The message is about self-care and feeling good about yourself, even with acne. Unlike some body-positivity role models who have expressed they have no intention of losing weight, skin positivity influencers intend to accept the journey toward clear skin and the natural process of flare ups, breakouts, and scars.

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