This weekend, something happened on social media—something that probably happens on a daily basis but slips through the net unless it's orchestrated by two high-profile influencers with massive followings. The incident in question happened when Huda Beauty, the popular website and makeup brand created by founder, Huda Kattan, posted a blog entry to Facebook. The post, "The Only Way to Get Rid of Acne Scars According to the Experts," featured an image of Em Ford from My Pale Skin. Not only did the Huda Beauty post feature a picture of Ford, most likely without her permission, but it also stated in the copy that "the only thing worse than a breakout is the little scars they leave behind."
You may recognise Em from her viral video, "You Look Disgusting," which delves into the online abuse she received after posting makeup tutorials featuring herself with and without makeup on her YouTube channel. Ford's incredible journey with acne has empowered women and men to talk more openly about their own experiences with acne, and hopefully helped them to accept that their acne doesn't define them.
And I can relate. Since turning 27, I've struggled with hormonal acne. It's something that gets me down on a daily basis. I'm not brave enough to go out sans makeup (something I used to do daily); I regularly check my skin in a mirror (and worry I look vain in the process, when actually I'm terrified people will think I look dirty). I stress about it so much that I'm probably making it 10 times worse, and I'll be honest, I couldn't even bring myself to use a makeup-free selfie to illustrate this feature because I don't ever take them. I feel like my skin is something I feel like I have to hide.
Now, the thing is, this isn't a post calling out Kattan for the article above because, while someone in her team made the mistake, Kattan took full responsibility and posted an apology on her Instagram Stories after Ford posted one of her own (see Ford's full story below). And yes, while Kattan has a responsibility to ensure the content created by her team doesn't shame her audience, the fundamental issue here is language. Acneic skin is so often described as something we need to "fix."
The language we use about our skin is so important—words like "poreless" and "flawless" imply that it's something we need to rid ourselves from. Acne is a medical issue, and associating it with negative language just makes those suffering suffer more. You can watch Kattan's apology here on her Instagram Stories. Outlets covering beauty have a responsibility to make content that's inclusive of everyone, acne and all. We also need to ensure the language we use doesn't make anyone feel embarrassed. At the end of the day, everyone is empowered to deal with their skin in any way they wish. If you choose to seek skin treatments, that's great, but if not, your skin isn't something you should be made to feel like you need to "fix."
What are your thoughts about the language we use about our skin? Come tell us in The British Beauty Line over on Facebook.
Opening Image: @alyssbowen