It’s a good job it’s the weekend because by the time my phone turns black it’s 3 am. My neck is aching. I’m shivering in the towel I wrapped around myself hours ago. My pajamas are still folded on the bed.
I haven’t done this in a while – I don’t feel the need anymore – but sometimes I find myself back here, absorbed in an Instagram parade of acne pictures and hashtags. There are thousands of selfies – pillar-box lipstick paired with roaring, dappled cheeks; sprawling captions and self-love mantras under images of inflamed faces, and oozing spots worn like medallions. This is the frontline of the skin-positivity movement, a digital retreat where acne sufferers congregate over shared hashtags, bare-faced selfies and communal outpourings of what it’s like to live with the condition. For thousands, it’s a secret utopia – the antithesis of Instagram’s Faceted call for perfection. And for a long time, this was my safe space – where I’d run to after a day of commuters looking inquisitively at my angry, blistered face. It was the only place I felt I belonged; the only place I didn’t feel judged for the cystic acne colonizing almost every pore.
The movement’s soldiers, the people who bared their souls and make-up free selfies, were fighting my fight. They were my tribe – until, one day, everything changed. My skin cleared up. My confidence skyrocketed. And, just