Last week I was invited to work on something for World Mental Health Day. I don't really know how to put it into words. I've never done anything like this before but I am always up for speaking out about things. I was asked by Pharmacy2U if I'd like to have acne for the day. Not to make fun of people with acne of course, but to kind of see what it's like/see how people make you feel (obviously it isn't 100% the same but I wanted to try do this to raise even a tiny bit of awareness after reading some upsetting statistics about acne sufferers). There are statistics which show depression levels are really high in people who have acne and this really struck a chord with me. I was basically asked if I'd like to walk around with acne for the day to see if people looked at me differently/see how I felt. Let's discuss further...
I was given some statistics about acne sufferers from research by Pharmacy2U have done and it really brought it home for me which is one of the main reasons I decided to go ahead and do this. I am all for raising awareness of things so was actually really upset when I found out that 1 in 7 people with acne suffer from depression. Life is not about the way you look but unfortunately the world sometimes makes us feel that way. I'm guilty of scrolling through my Instagram feed and thinking 'I wish I looked like her'. We all know that Instagram is clever though, we only show the 'best parts' of our lives and don't share all the bad parts so technically we're only comparing ourselves to the best part of someones day when in fact, they could've had a really rubbish week. I won't go into this debate fully because I could rant forever but Instagram, blogs, magazines, the media do make us feel like we have to look good all the time sometimes. Constant gossip columns slating women for being too curvy but then they slate them when they're too thin too. How do we win? Online internet trolls scrutinising how people look but 'it's okay because you put yourself out there so you deserve what comes with that'. I myself was abused via the internet only this week and accused of 'having a sugar daddy' because I've worked hard and stayed in a nice hotel? No, this is wrong. No-one deserves to be insulted because of the way they look. No-one deserves to be insulted whatsoever. Everyone looks different, everyone has their own 'flaws' but what is perfect? Honestly, I could discuss this topic forever. We're constantly comparing ourselves or constantly doing things to make our appearances look better. Some people make themselves look better to impress others, some people do it for themselves. What I'm getting at here is that 1 in 7 people are suffering with depression because of acne and that is a huge number. 1 in 2000 shouldn't be suffering let alone 1 in 7.
Depression/anxiety/mental health in general is something that I do not think should be a taboo, I am always up for using my voice and shouting things that matter in order to raise awareness and help others which is why I decided to work with Pharmacy2U on this important topic.
I went to some offices where I met up with a make up artist who would paint my face so it looked like I had acne. I was then going to go around the city for the day and get on with my day to day routine and see how I felt/if people acted differently towards me.
According to research by Pharmacy2U it can take people with acne up to 13 months to pluck up the courage to see a doctor. The worst statistic for me though is that almost 1 in 20 people with acne self-harm. This actually really upsets me and takes me back to my original argument that it really shouldn't matter what you look like. People shouldn't care but unfortunately we live in a world where people do care, people do judge and some people just aren't very nice.
Walking around the city was weird, I felt like my confidence was low. Even when I have just one spot I do tend to feel a little bit rubbish about myself - I know I shouldn't but I think it's a hormonal thing, one spot can really make you feel just a bit rubbish. I'm suffering at the moment with some underneath spots along my jaw-line, I assume from stress/worry but they're really getting me down. I know a lot of girls don't like to go out without make up on, I personally try to gym without make up but I feel so so self-conscious when have a little spot and I have to gym without my make up on. I went to meet my friend for coffee and even just walking out of the office and down the street people did stare at my face, a lot. Fair enough I realise they were painted on pretty red and usually people do try and cover it up but you shouldn't have to try and cover them up. No-one should be shamed for the way they look/feel ashamed/feel unconfident. You should be able to walk down the street looking however you want in my opinion. If you want to wear no make up, you should wear no make up and hold your head up high, feeling proud. People shouldn't stare but I guess it's human nature to do so. I noticed that a lot of people looked at me as if they felt sorry for me but they still couldn't help but stare. What I did notice most though is that I found myself walking with my head down or trying to kind of cover my face. I did feel like I lacked confidence and I'm annoyed at myself for not just walking around with my head held up high. It just goes to show that the way people look at us can make us feel unconfident.
The woman behind the till could barely serve me in the coffee shop, she was almost scared of my face which I found quite insulting and rude. My friend couldn't believe it either. Sitting down for lunch was interesting as people in the queue did keep looking at me, again, some looked like they felt sorry for me but some seemed to think I was there to literally glare at. We left the coffee shop and stood outside for a bit catching up (for quite some time I held my head up high and forgot anything was on my face but people would look at me and then I'd instantly go back into my shell). One woman literally came up to my face to glare at me, I couldn't believe it. It was a really odd experience, people in the office said I was 'brave' for going out and doing it but people suffer every single day with acne (my Mum had severe acne until about a year ago) and I know just how much it affected her. I know how it made her feel/how many people bullied her about it as a child and I really don't want anyone else to ever go through that. When I told her I had to 'walk around with acne for the day' she said, 'you're walking around how I used to look every day' and that really made me upset. No-one should feel ashamed to walk around without make up on, acne, scarring, no-acne, anything. A lot of people I've shown this to have said 'yeh but you'd cover it up, it wouldn't be as red' but my argument is, you shouldn't have to cover up your face. Wear your skin with pride (easier said than done I know). I do not think anyone should ever feel so bad about their appearance that they have to cover their face, feel a lack of confidence or worse, feel depressed/want to self-harm. 1 in 7 people haven’t tried any treatments to help their acne but there are treatments out there, obviously they won't work for everyone but there is help available if you are feeling down about acne. It took my Mum until she was 50 to finally find the right treatment for her skin! You can find out more about Pharmacy2U's campaign here.
I I worked with Pharmacy2U on this and really hope it will make people stop and think this World Mental Health day. If you have a voice please use it. If you're feeling low/know someone who's feeling low, try and speak to someone. I know it's difficult, but there is help available.
You can watch my vlog of the day below here (pretty please click here to subscribe to my YouTube channel too! It would mean the world to me!)
Lots of love, Em x