“Teen Vogue” is celebrating its annual Acne Awards this week with a series of stories on all things acne. From knowing when to pop a pimple to understanding why some people get breakouts and others don’t, we’ve got you covered. Read all of the stories here.
Em Ford is a globally recognized acne activist, YouTuber, and powerhouse behind the #SkinPositivity movement. The 29-year-old British vlogger and activist uses her YouTube channel, My Pale Skin, as a platform to empower women with the confidence to live their lives without the fear of being judged for their appearance.
Em became a viral sensation following her 2015 short film, “You Look Disgusting,” which showcased the online abuse she had received over her appearance and selfies of her acne, and racked up 31,000,000 views across the globe. Em’s most recent YouTube documentary, “Redefine Pretty,” looked at the relationships women have with their appearance and what society defines as “pretty,” highlighting the negative impact that a lack of representation can have. Her success has reached new levels through her work with BFF Kylie Jenner and brands like Charlotte Tilbury and L’Oreal.
For “Teen Vogue,” Em shares a list of the things she wishes people knew about dealing with acne.
1. Your Skin Doesn’t Define You
I’ve accepted that some days are going to be harder than others. Some days I will wake up and be comfortable in my skin — there’s been no-flare ups, breakouts or soreness, it’s a mild day — and I’ll instantly feel more confident because of this. Other days, if I have a major breakout, I’ll just want to hide because I’m worried about what other people will think and say. But I’m more than my skin on a good day and a bad day; your skin does not define you as a person.
2. You Need the Patience of a Saint
It’s been an ongoing battle for years of my life, and it takes up a lot of time. It’s so easy to lose patience with your acne, and lose track of what’s important. I know some days will feel harder than others, but you have to learn to love the person you see looking back at you when you look in the mirror. Rather than focusing all of your attention on the things that you don’t like, embrace all of the things that you do! It isn’t going to happen overnight, but once you begin to love yourself you will feel so much happier in yourself.
3. It Can Impact Your Social Life
Acne can impact so many aspects of our lives, and I would often cancel plans and avoid social situations because I was self-conscious that people would notice my skin before they noticed me, especially if my skin was particularly bad that day. I was convinced that people couldn’t see past my acne and I couldn’t go out and enjoy myself because they would be focused on my flare-up, bad blemishes; even just general glances felt like hate. So I stayed in. But don’t let them win. Stay strong. And if you’re reading this and you can see this happening to a friend, reach out, check in, and be there.
4. There Is No Magical Cure
Unfortunately, as many skin-care experts will tell you, there is no one size fits all for acne treatments. Everybody is different. I’ve spent so much money on products and treatments that have been recommended to me by others because it has helped their skin, but made my skin break out even more. It takes time to find what’s right for you and your skin.