TikTok’s Alix Earle: fighting back against acne

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Over the past year, an influencer on TikTok that we simply cannot ignore has skyrocketed to success. Her name is Alix Earle. Even though I could, and would, like to write this article about her wild nights out, her sorority stories or even NFL man, I am going to talk about her candid acne journey. 

Earle has been very open about her skin problems, suffering from chronic acne since childhood. She has been prescribed Accutane — a drug that all sufferers from acne will recognise. This drug is either your worst nightmare or your godsend. It vastly minimises the amount of oil that is produced by the skin, preventing your pores from getting clogged up. In many cases, this drug is effective, and the resurfacing of acne is minimal. However, it comes with a wide variety of side effects. Earle documents how she has suffered from chapped lips, headaches to even having greater susceptibility to sunburn due to how sensitive her skin is now. Furthermore, to prevent pregnancy complications, you must take monthly pregnancy and blood tests, regardless of your sexual orientation. My crippling fear of blood tests and a plethora of the other side effects have prevented me from taking Accutane. Earle has also suffered from mental health issues as a result, an all too often ignored side effect. 

Earle has redefined how I see beauty

As a fellow sufferer of acne, it has been refreshing and comforting to see how one of the most beautiful and popular influencers has had a similar experience to me. Too often, we are faced with trends such as “no makeup makeup” or “glass skin” which people like me simply cannot partake in because of our skin. Well, we can, but our confidence, or lack of, deters us from doing so. Having suffered from acne for ten years, I remember vividly getting teased for it at school, getting called ‘pepperoni pizza face’ or having people overtly mention my spots, which has affected how I go about my day-to-day life now. I will never not do my skincare routine, and similarly it is rare to see me without foundation; and when you do, I am a shell of the person I am without “my mask”. 

Earle has redefined how I see beauty. In modern day society, with unrealistic beauty standards, we often consider pimples and blemishes to taint our looks. Friends and family have previously said to me ‘you’re pretty, it’s just a shame about your skin’ — further confirming that having a skin condition and being perceived as beautiful can only be mutually exclusive. Or even worse, the haunting ‘have you tried (insert supposed “heal all” brand here) trying to rectify ‘problems’ with my face before I have even mentioned I want a solution. 

I now see my pimples as benign as freckles, adorning the face and giving it character

When I was growing up, I was desperately looking for a cure, trying every drug available (apart from Accutane), eating superfood berries, trying LED light therapy, you name it, I’ve done it. But I’m 21 now. I have accepted there is clearly something a little bit wrong with my body which is causing my skin problems, perhaps an allergy, but I am also recognising that it is progressively getting better. I no longer let my days be characterised by if I’m having a ‘good or bad skin day’. Not only this, but I realise that there are far worse problems I could be dealing with. I am blessed with good health, eyes that can see beautiful things, ears that can hear compliment, and a middle finger to stick up at those who seek to belittle my skin. 

The short of it is the majority of us do suffer with acne at some point in their lives. So why do we stigmatize it? Besides the well-known concept of ‘beauty brands are taking advantage of our insecurities’, why do we as individuals see acne as such a major flaw? I see the beauty in acne. I now see my pimples as benign as freckles, adorning the face and giving it character. I see acne as an opportunity to embrace our individuality, and to see it as just another facial feature rather than something that must be masked and ‘cured’. I will always respect Alix Earle for being so open with her acne journey, embracing it rather than hiding it as if it were something to be ashamed of and demonstrating that acne and beauty are not as intrinsically opposed as society leads us to believe. 

Image: Sonali Prabhu via Wikimedia Commons

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