skin positivity

How this beauty journalist embraced her own #SkinPositivity

Jasmine Wicks Stephens
As someone who realised long ago that acne and problem skin isn't just for teenagers, I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with my skin.

Some weeks it's glowing; so much so that my Insta friends and IRL friends will comment so enthusiastically and sweetly, and I’ll mumble a thank you because I don’t really feel or believe that it’s that great.

Other weeks though: I just want to disappear. I suddenly regret ever choosing a career in beauty; a career that sees me interviewing others with ‘flawless’ and ‘perfect’ skin, and has more recently resulted in me being on camera, via my YouTube.

On days like this I just want to rent an Airbnb somewhere with zero inhabitants, but even I have to admit that things are changing. Thanks to the wealth of information from ‘cool’ skin experts such as Dr Shereene Idriss in the US and @skndoctor Dr Ewoma Ukeleghe, here in the UK, and hashtags like #skinpositivity and #acnepositive, we’re talking about acne more than ever. Talking about skin problems has gone from whispered concern to: ‘this is me, take me as I am.’

Being your own hero

If you know the above feelings all too well, perhaps it’s time to find your own skin heroes. As with most things, Instagram is full of potential inspiration. From the brilliant Sofia Grahn of @isotretinoinwiths and her upfront Instagram posts, to Em Ford and her now-legendary YouTube channel, My Pale Skin Blog and more recently, @dontpopthatspot, AKA Afia Kufuor, and her emphasis on diversity within the #skinpositivity movement, these accounts are proof that you are not alone. Which is something I never had growing up. One thing that’s great about these accounts is that although they use Instagram as their preferred medium, they also acknowledge that social media only adds to the issue.

As Sofia said in a recent post; ‘I can’t blame anyone for being caught off guard actually seeing a version of real skin in reality when so much of our reality online has been warped into an airbrushed version.’

But aside from Instagram, why not aim to be your own hero? Recently I interviewed confidence coach Tiwa Ogunlesi for my podcast. The founder of Confident and Killing It, Tiwa is, as you’d expect, pretty damn confident. But she’s also super honest about how keeping that level of positivity on the daily is about putting in the work.

Tiwa suffers from Polycystic Ovaries (PCOS) a condition that often results in painful, inflamed acne, amongst other hormonal symptoms. Over time Tiwa has taught herself to love what she sees, no matter what, so much so that she can happily take part in Zooms and Instagram Lives without any makeup on. Tiwa told me her secret was telling herself, directly into the mirror: ‘Tiwa, I love you.’ Even on days when she doesn’t feel like it, she makes sure she tells herself this, because, at the end of the day, hers should be the only opinion that matters.

You can find beauty writer, photographer and podcaster Charisse Kenion @charisse.kenion @beautymepodcast

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