Let's see some skin.

In an industry becoming more and more inclusive, why aren't we seeing skin imperfection in entertainment?

Erin Fox
23rd February 2022
Image: Instagram @butfirstskinshop
Within the film and television industry, there has been a significant stride towards establishing inclusivity for the previously unrepresented communities. Producers are incorporating a multitude of ethnicities and a bountiful array of body types into the industry. And feel-food films about finding yourself are being represented onscreen, boosting our self-positivity. However, the notion of acne and imperfect skin is still unrepresented within the entertainment industry. So the question we really need to ask is: why is there this remaining stigma around the notion of acne and imperfect skin, and why is it rarely represented in visual entertainment?

There is an incessant desire to conceal the condition (literally)

As someone who has suffered from cystic acne for years, there is a real sense of shame and embarrassment surrounding the topic, particularly as it is something a vast amount of people suffer with. Yet there is an incessant desire to conceal the condition (literally). In fact, according to the Global Burden of Disease Project, acne affects 9.4% of the global population. This makes me question: why is there so little representation of acne onscreen when so many of us feel scrutinised and mentally affected by it 24/7. If there was the chance to empower people with supposedly "imperfect" skin, wouldn’t you take the chance to do so through the power of onscreen entertainment?

The highly anticipated HBO show Euphoria, known for its inclusivity and eccentricity in terms of both makeup and fashion, has recently made its return to our lives (trust me, it’s addicting). Centralised around mainly teenagers and the harrowing events they experience daily, there should be a high possibility that at least a couple of characters would suffer from acne. Is that the case? Sorry to disappoint, but the only thing in sight is the gorgeous rhinestone glam and technicoloured powders and liners.

Image: Instagram @euphoria

Instead we witness an intense, intemperate 4am beauty routine from Cassie where she incessantly scrubs, shaves and smooths her skin before completing her image with a full face of makeup – not for herself, but in pursuit of catching Nate’s attention. This particular scene depicted the process of hiding the skin imperfections rather than embracing them, reinforcing the stigma surrounding imperfect skin and acne, and stating that someone’s worth is dependent on how they look. Let me state this – it’s not!

It is possible to include a character with acne-prone skin

Perhaps the lack of delineation of acne within Euphoria is because it is deemed unimportant when compared to the dark underbelly of sex, drugs and violence present in the show – the shock factor immediately captures your attention. However, acne is a struggle within everyday life for a considerable amount of people. I believe that if a show can dedicate time and effort towards the extreme makeup looks, then it is possible to include a character with acne-prone skin to de-stigmatise, and portray it as natural across the global medium of television.

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