Today I saw this article on Yahoo! which led me to this video on YouTube, and I was amazed at this girl’s transformation. Essentially, this young lady, Cassandra Bankson, suffers from severe cystic acne. She says she got her first pimple in 3rd grade and then it was all downhill from there. She is extremely self-conscious about her skin (as are most people with acne) and has tried all kinds of medications, creams, and other remedies to get rid of the pimples, but nothing worked so she decided to cover it up. She has basically developed a makeup routine that takes her skin from rough and acne-covered to airbrushed perfection. She even works as a model! Does it require a lot of products and time? Yes. Is it worth it if it makes her (and other acne sufferers) feel better? Yes.
After I watched her tutorial, I read some of the comments posted by Youtube users and was disappointed (but not surprised) to see all kinds of ignorant and mean comments. Things like “Well maybe if you wore less makeup, your skin wouldn’t look so bad,” or “Wow it’s so sad that she has to pile on all that crap to feel good about herself,” and other such nonsense. She clearly states in the information about the video that she is under the care of a dermatologist and that they have tried many things but nothing has cleared up her skin. She also points out that her skin erupted in zits well before she ever started wearing makeup. And for people to comment on how “sad” she is for wearing so much makeup, they have obviously never suffered the scourge of severe acne. My guess is that those comments are from girls who have never had a zit in their lives. If you’re born with perfect skin, then no, you don’t need makeup and you might be better off without it. You can glide effortlessly through middle school dances, prom, senior pictures, and every other appearance-centered event in a teenager’s life with ease. But for those of us who have struggled with poor skin since we were in elementary or middle school, a little makeup helps a lot. There are a lot of misconceptions about acne: that it’s caused by being dirty, wearing too much makeup, eating poorly, etc – Basically that acne is something you can fix by changing your bad habits. For some people that might be true, but acne has other, more widespread and uncontrollable causes like hormonal imbalances, genetics, extremely oily skin, etc. These causes are out of the acne sufferer’s control and can leave them feeling powerless and ugly.
Acne is generally associated with nerds, basement-dwelling WoW players, and other societal outcasts, not because this condition weirdly targets ONLY those types of people, but because people who get acne often BECOME socially awkward BECAUSE they have it. Acne often begins to rear its ugly head at the most inconvenient of times: the already awkward and confusing stage of puberty. A child who is already self-conscious about their changing body and who may have a natural inclination towards shyness may be driven totally underground by the appearance of pimples all over their face. And let’s not forget how cruel kids can be. They are highly intolerant of physical imperfection among their peers. God help the poor child if he or she is fat AND has acne. Special events like prom become cause for extreme social anxiety for a kid with acne because they KNOW their skin doesn’t look good. They KNOW it’s unattractive, and it’s extremely hard to cover up. And they KNOW that these precious moments (and their pizza face) will forever be documented via photography and Facebook. That’s a lot of pressure, and interestingly enough, stress is a trigger for acne.
I think what Cassandra is doing is really a great thing. She has a whole series of videos that teach girls (and guys!) how to cover up their acne effectively and make it look natural. She also does regular makeup tutorials that show you how to achieve a classy, natural look, which can be difficult, especially for people just learning how to apply cosmetics or people with acne who need to use a lot of products to cover their pimples. Her videos teach people how to properly apply makeup so that they can feel confident and beautiful, even WITH bad skin. For some people, their acne clears up on its own after a couple of years. For other people, antibiotics, Accutane, or topical medications work. Mine was never as bad as Cassandra’s, but I did have acne and I used a variety of prescription products when I was in high school with varying degrees of success. I think mine was probably hormonal, because around the time I turned 17 or 18 and went on the Pill, it cleared up, for the most part (I still get a few pimples now and then, but that’s normal). For some people though, it plagues them far into a adulthood, even up into their 40s and 50s. For people who have chronic, unrelenting acne like that, I think Cassandra’s videos are a Godsend…haters be damned.