How to be more skin positive
Date: Apr 2020
The key phrase of 2019 (online at least) was ‘body positivity’. People were busy challenging our preconceived notions of beauty, size and health.
For centuries, women have been forced to prescribe to narrow definitions of beauty. In the 20s, we were expected to be rake thin but by the 50s, society demanding hourglass figures. Kim K and her ilk got everyone pining for big bums while the current obsession is with looking as close to a professional athlete as possible. Body positivity has started to crack into that destructive narrative.
But it’s not just weight that folk are unfairly judged on. Skin is another beauty issue that is often (dubiously) linked to health. Just as overweight people are assumed to be unhealthy, so too are those of us who live with conditions like acne and psoriasis.
How many times have you been asked about your diet or hygiene practices, in regards to your skin issue? How many of us have been told to ‘drink more water’ or ‘get more sun’…despite the fact that we probably hydrate way more than other people?
That’s why skin positivity is the next big challenge on the horizon.
Skin positive is all about confidence and self-love. It’s embracing whatever imperfections you think you have, letting go of any guilt, embarrassment or responsibility for your skin being the way it is.
It’s clear that we desperately need something like this. Every year, 13 million people in the UK visit their GP with a skin issue. A recent study by the British Skin Foundation found that nine out of 10 dermatologists agreed that not enough importance is placed on the psychological effects of skin conditions - which means that there are millions of us out there having our mental health impacted by the way our skin looks.
How to be more skin positive:
Change the way you see your skin
This movement isn’t about changing the way your skin looks, it’s about changing the way you see your skin. If your happiness is determined on how your face looks on any given day, you’re going to be on an emotional rollercoaster for the rest of your life.
Check out blogger Em Ford who started the #youlookdisgusting movement back in 2015. The video she shared back then showed her bare, inflamed skin surrounded by all the horrible comments she’d received for having acne. The film then shows her applying makeup to ‘transform’ her face to look more ‘socially acceptable’…only for it be condemned as ‘false advertising’. The message? We’re all beautiful regardless of what our skin looks like and what other people say. In the past five years, the video has been viewed nearly 33 million times.
If we’re saying that self-love is at the centre of this, then it’s time to really show yourself some proper TLC.
Make time for long, hot bubble baths, apply nourishing hair masks, turn off your phone to give yourself a break from everyone else. Watch a film, bake something delicious, go for a long walk with a good podcast. Anything that makes you feel relaxed and happy is good for you and will help to reassess how you think about and treat yourself.
Apply your own reality check filter
It’s so easy to forget that the people you see online or in magazines have often been filtered, touched up or professionally made up. Some may look as they seem in real life and others will be almost unrecognisable.
However blessed they may be with ‘perfect’ skin in real life, remember that they make up a tiny minority and that adverts and social media aren’t real. They’re edited to sell products, to gain more followers or to promote a way of living that is probably unsustainable and unrealistic.
If you want to get inspiration, look at the people around you - those who seem happy and comfortable - and let them be a source of inspiration.
Do a skincare edit
There’s never been a better time to detox from your skincare. If you don’t feel confident without wearing makeup, now’s the time to experiment with toning it down - you literally don’t have to leave the house!
Makeup makes lots of us feel more confident and there’s nothing wrong with wearing it if makes you feel happy. But it might be refreshing and liberating to give the heavy foundation a rest. Why not skip the concealer?
It might also be worth looking at the products you use and really think about whether they’re the best things for your particular skin issues. Our skin changes. Our hormones, nutrition, vitamin D levels are always fluctuating and it may be that your skin needs a change from what you’ve been using up until now.
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Information written by the talkhealth team
Last revised: 22 April 2020
Next review: 23 April 2023