By Alyce Collins



THIS WOMAN was told her CYSTIC ACNE resembled SANDPAPER by trolls but has since learnt to embrace her skin after finding love changed her perspective on beauty – and now she’s calling on social media influencers to show their not-so-perfect sides too.


Portrait photographer Madeline Roberts (24) from Tennessee, USA, first developed cystic acne at the age of 14, causing her to feel ashamed of her appearance and diminishing her self-confidence dramatically.


Madeline tried various acne treatments, including spironolactone, minocycline, contraceptive pills and finally Accutane when she was 20 and her skin was at its worst. However, the acne was persistent despite any treatment, and nothing helped Madeline see any improvement.


Madeline hopes others will accept their acne and embrace it, rather than only show the ‘perfect’ sides of themselves on social media. MDWfeatures / Madeline Roberts

Madeline feared dating and would cover her face with thick glasses because she didn’t think that anyone could accept her appearance. This self-doubt often made Madeline cry due to loneliness. However, when Madeline met her now husband, Trevor (25) in 2016, her self-worth began growing as Madeline learned to embrace her skin, regardless of scars and flaws.


Early in their relationship, Madeline feared that Trevor might break up with her when she had her first breakout, but she admits that he has put beauty into perspective for her. Now, Madeline no longer feels as pressured to look ‘perfect’ by society’s measure, having stopped applying makeup every day before leaving the house.


Although, Madeline has received some criticism for her acne, with online trolls referring to her skin as ‘sandpaper’ and a masseuse at a spa recommended Madeline have a facial when she noticed her acne.


Madeline wants to show other acne sufferers that healing acne isn’t always easy and having acne scars doesn’t lessen their beauty. Madeline spent years believing that her worth was valued on her appearance, but she is now able to embrace her acne scars since realising that her self-worth comes from less superficial matters.


“I had my first spot when I was nine, which I remember because my gymnastics teammates and I were all shocked that I had a big spot right on top of my nose,” said Madeline.


Madeline shows her acne scars. MDWfeatures / Madeline Roberts

“It felt like it was there for an eternity because my mum wouldn’t let me pop it. It eventually went away, and I didn’t have another until I was 14, when I developed cystic acne.


“When my acne started to hit me full force as a teen, I wanted it gone immediately. It hurt, it was ugly, and it made me lose my self-confidence.


“The first treatment I went on was doxycycline, an antibiotic used for acne. This worked well for a few months and then my skin became immune to the treatments. I tried spironolactone, minocycline, birth control pills, cutting out dairy, even Accutane. The acne persisted through everything.


“My acne and scarring were most severe when I was about 20, that’s when I decided to finally try Accutane. At that point I felt hopeless. I felt like acne was supposed to go away after puberty, yet I was 20 years old. It was ridiculous that I had such severe acne after all the treatments I had tried.


“It wasn’t until I met my husband that I was able to fully accept myself, acne and all. He showed me unconditional love despite me feeling unworthy of it. He saw my heart as beautiful which made the rest of me beautiful in his eyes.


Madeline used to hide her skin and wouldn’t leave the house without makeup, until meeting her husband who taught her to appreciate her beauty. MDWfeatures / Madeline Roberts

“Before meeting him, I would cry from loneliness and thinking that no one would ever love me until I cleared up my skin. I even thought he might break up with me when I had my first bad breakout when we first started dating. But he put beauty into perspective for me and proved that it really is what’s on the inside that matters.”


Madeline and Trevor married in June 2017 and she now accepts her appearance after coming to realise that society conditions women into believing a flawless appearance defines them.


Rather than trying to heal her acne with treatments or covering it with makeup, Madeline embraces it and prefers to show the unfiltered aspects on her social media, as opposed to the celebrities and influencers who give an unflawed portrayal.


“I think of Instagram influencers and celebrities as artists whose canvas is their face. Their physical beauty is the artwork they are selling,” said Madeline.


“As humans, we’re drawn to beautiful aesthetics and I don’t think there is anything wrong with appreciating art and beauty. But at the end of the day if that celebrity is afraid to be seen bare-faced and un-photoshopped then I think they have fallen for the lie that women need to look beautiful in order to be valued.


“This can have a negative effect on young girls who look up to that celebrity and perhaps compare their ‘worst’ traits to that celebrity’s ‘best’ ones. It’s important for celebrities to show the world that they are just regular human beings with physical flaws like the rest of us.


Madeline and Trevor. MDWfeatures / Madeline Roberts

“There are definitely days where I mourn the loss of the scar-free skin I once had. Although my breakouts are much less severe than they were in the past, they can be painful and annoying when they do happen.


“But overall, my acne doesn’t control me like it once did. It doesn’t decide for me whether I sit by a window at a restaurant or cause me to avoid eye contact while talking to someone.


“There’s still a lot of work to be done in our beauty-obsessed culture to make this world a safe place for acne sufferers. I’m happy to see that girls in the acne community on Instagram are catching on and starting to embrace their scars with me. My hope is that we will create a ripple effect that will change our culture, one girl at a time.


“Ultimately, I want girls to know that they are not alone, and that there’s hope for healing but it may not be in the way that they think. Many girls think they are sad because they feel ugly from acne. In fact, they are sad because they believe their worth is found in their outer beauty. When you find your worth in something bigger and less superficial, then you’ll notice the sadness over your acne disappear.”


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