What About Acne Acceptance?


acnotabs-stop-pimples-adBy Heather Roberts at Wise Grrrl

The feminist blogosphere has buzzed with fat acceptance, which is great, but I wonder what about acne acceptance? I have zits, pimples[1], and rosacea; all three plague my face, arms, and back. Every day, I am consumed with conscientious feelings. I always think that someone is going to find me ugly. High school was a place of hurt for me. Everyone, especially my friends (who were all boys at the time) would tell me that I had “personality” and what I deserved was a body like (insert name of pretty girl here) and that she didn’t deserve her body. But I did because all I had was personality; apparently I wasn’t sexy, pretty, and beautiful because I had personality. I needed a “great” body to match it.

Now I wonder, what about the other girls who have a face like mine, are they being told that they are ugly? Are they being told that they don’t deserve such a cursed face because their personality really shines through? Are they being told to wear makeup, to go see a dermatologist, or to use some acne product that is supposed to clear up that nasty face? How does it make her feel? Is she hurt like me? Or does she actually seek “help?” Female beauty is something that a lot people talk about and perpetuate in our culture. If a girl doesn’t look “right” we tell her how she can.

People ask me about my face and what I should do about it. For the most part people try not to be rude and go on about what kind of makeup or treatment I should use. But on some level I can’t help but be a little offended. It’s like a skinny person telling a fat person what kind of diet they should go on to lose weight. I hate it when someone tells me that chocolate or coffee causes acne. I was once asked if I washed because apparently acne is just caused by bacteria. Acne is actually caused by your skin oil and your genetic makeup. I am not ashamed of the way I look, but I was because random acquaintances and family members would tell me I should use this or that new product out on the market. People also told me that my acne was really ugly, so I constantly used makeup to cover it up (and sometimes I still do for the redness).

My friend, who happens to be male, had just has much as acne as I did, and he was never told to wear makeup nor has anyone told him what he should use for it. I am female so that automatically makes me worried about my appearance. Does this seem odd to ask a young woman to clear her face up but not a man? Women in our society are supposed to want to look “good” and that’s where all the money is. Advertisers make women feel bad about the way they look so that they will buy their product. Maybe acne acceptance can lead to facts about acne, as well as how pop culture poorly portrays the female body, and how beauty lines are making a quick buck off our low self-esteem.

Like most people who have bodies that don’t fit society’s beauty (or handsome) standards, people who have acne are a minority; women who have acne are a minority within a minority. People on T.V. don’t have acne; beauty is clear skin, skinny, and white; cisgendered, straight, able-bodied, and tall (keeping in mind little people). I also have noticed that women and girls with acne are more stigmatized than men and boys who have acne.

Personally, I gauge whether someone is ugly (or not) by the way they act, not by their physical looks. I do feel bad about myself when I watch T.V. for and about people with clear complexions. I feel ashamed when someone points out my acne and tells me that I should use something for it. I feel bad about myself when someone tells me I should stop drinking coffee or eating chocolate, assuming that my face is the way it is because it’s my fault. I am sure a lot more women young and old alike who have acne (or any other physical attribute society doesn’t care for) feel the same as I do when faced with society’s beauty standards. So, I am asking the feminist blogosphere to write about acne and how it can affect a woman’s life. It’s important to look at the whole picture of body acceptance, not just size. For me, it is too limiting.

Shouldn’t acne acceptance be a part of feminism just as much as fat acceptance, disabled acceptance, little people acceptance, LGBTQA acceptance, and race acceptance?

Here at Adios Barbie we completely agree. What’s your take on acne acceptance?

Be sure to check out more of Heather’s work at Wise Grrrl

[1] Editor’s note: The author differentiates between zits and pimples. In her own words, “little dots I describe as zits and huge mountains I call pimples.”



  1. […] forgot that I wrote a piece for Adios, Barbie about acne and how it goes unnoticed in the body acceptance practice in feminisma […]

  2. […] that I should use make-up to make my acne go away. I really wanted to get into this again somehow. I wrote a post for Adios, Barbie about acne acceptance and how real information about acne can change young women’s […]

  3. […] and large, I definitely think acne acceptance needs more discussion. It’s a problem that goes unaddressed, and is easily dismissed by […]

  4. […]  Now I wonder, what about the other girls who have a face like mine….read more at Adios, Barbie. […]

  5. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Cherry Woodburn, Sharon Haywood. Sharon Haywood said: AdiosBarbie tackles a topic we havent seen much discussion about: Acne Acceptance http://bit.ly/gJXNMH Whats ur take? #bodyimage #selfesteem […]