It feels like every time I have an important event to attend, I get a volcano-sized pimple on my face that is impossible to ignore. No amount of foundation and concealer will hide it — it demands to be seen. I feel insecure and become incredibly aware of every eyeball that glances at the zit on my forehead. I look at the ground and avoid eye contact at all costs. When you’re a teenager, you’re expected to have acne. But adult acne isn’t normal, right? Wrong. It’s only human for college students to get pimples, so let’s destigmatize adult acne.
Even the name “adult acne” makes it sound abnormal. Unfortunately, we aren’t magically gifted clear skin for our 18th birthdays. It’s actually normal to struggle with acne into our 40s and 50s. As young adults, we are especially affected by acne. Stress, all-nighters and Dunkin-based diets mean us college students are bound to have blemishes.
Even Kendall Jenner, who has plenty of money to spend on skincare products and dermatologists, recently opened up about her acne. She revealed that her acne caused her to suffer from panic attacks and has even been debilitating, which I can completely relate to. Kendall Jenner, who is now 23 years old, shows us that acne doesn’t make you unattractive. We can all take a note from Kendall, who still attended the Golden Globes last year during an acne flare-up. I’ve canceled too many plans because of my acne, but not anymore.
Acne representation, especially for young adults, is so important because it affirms that it is OK to have acne into our 20s. For so long, we’ve watched 30-year-olds play the role of teens in movies and T.V. Movies like “Lady Bird” and “Eighth Grade” finally gave us the on-screen characters we were craving: teenagers that look like us, imperfections and all. Zits and acne scars were blown up on the big screen, but they weren’t the focus of the plot — just like acne isn’t the focus of our lives.
Much like with adult acne, no one ever talks about bacne (back acne). Let’s talk about it now! It sucks, but everyone has had to deal with it. 17-year-old YouTuber Emma Chamberlain discussed her bacne in a recent vlog. Having acne in “weird” places can make you feel alienated and alone. Discussions like these are so important because it lets us know that we aren’t the only ones struggling with these issues.
We often think of acne as something gross and dirty, when in reality it is perfectly normal. Hormones, stress, travel and diet can play a huge role in our skin’s appearance. Trust me, I’ve tried every face wash and spot treatment on the market since I was 13 years old. I’ve tried drinking more water and washing my pillowcases. I’ve even been on Accutane, one of the most powerful drugs for acne treatment, and I still struggle with pimples. I’m just an acne-prone 20-year-old, and that’s something I’m learning to be OK with.
I’m learning to put down the concealer in the morning and embrace my natural and normal skin. Acne used to make me feel insecure and ashamed. I used to not be able to leave the house without a full face of foundation on. But why? I shouldn’t feel shame or guilt over something that I can’t wholly control. When I see someone else’s spots, I don’t think twice about it, so why do I assume that people are looking at my skin? They have greater things to worry about, and so do I. Here’s to natural skin positivity!
“BODIES” is a series about body image. Recently, Kylie has been battling body insecurity — something that many wrestle with. Over the next few months, Kylie hopes to befriend her own body again, and to change the way we talk to and about ourselves because at some point in time, we have all been at war with our own bodies.
Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them.
Kylie Smith is a sophomore in CAS studying Journalism and Art History. Email Kylie at [email protected]