SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA, USA: A picture of Kat that has been edited (left) and without editing (right). MDWfeatures / Kat Neubrand

By Rebecca Drew


THIS WOMAN thought she was too old for acne when she developed cystic acne at THIRTY but vowed to ditch photo editing apps when it got worse because she felt like a ‘CATFISH’ on social media – and she says embracing her skin online has boosted her confidence in real life.

Dental administrator, Kat Neubrand (30) from San Jose, California, USA, never had any skin problems as a teenager and only experienced the occasional breakout of spots in her early twenties, which she shrugged off.

It wasn’t until Kat turned 30 last summer that she started to develop painful cystic acne which broke out more frequently, and overtime became bigger and more inflamed. Kat’s skin problem left her feeling depressed, alone and questioning why it was happening to her because she assumed she was too old for acne.

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA, USA: Kat is proud of her skin and isn’t afraid to show off her acne scars. MDWfeatures / Kat Neubrand

Kat’s close friends were supportive of her but she spent a lot of time worrying about what other people thought of her so would hide behind heavy makeup and photo editing apps like Facetune when she uploaded pictures online.

For months Kat struggled with her self-confidence and in December 2018 when her acne flared worse than it had done before, she decided that enough was enough and she was no longer going to hide away.

She vowed to stop editing and using filters on her selfies after feeling like a ‘catfish’ and be proud of the skin she was in, which included her acne. Kat shared her first unfiltered pictures on Instagram and was overwhelmed with the support she received and says that the positive reaction has boosted her confidence in real life too.

Now Kat is promoting skin positivity and is keen to show people that they are beautiful as they are and they don’t need to live up to unrealistic beauty standards set by the media.

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA, USA: Kat’s skin following a painful acne flare in December 2018. MDWfeatures / Kat Neubrand

“Growing up, I never really had any skin problems besides some breakouts here and there, which started in my early twenties. It wasn’t until I turned 30 that my cystic acne became more severe. I started breaking out more frequently and the breakouts became bigger and more inflamed as time went on,” said Kat.

“I felt really depressed at first. I asked myself, ‘why is this happening to me?’, ‘aren’t I too old for acne?’, I also felt really alone because none of my friends or family had or have cystic acne.

“December 2018 was the worst of it all and that’s when I decided that I need to stop hiding behind filters and Facetune and share my real face and story on Instagram.

“My acne became so bad that I wasn’t able to hide it anymore, nor did I want to keep editing my photos. I felt like I was being a catfish on social media and I made the decision that enough is enough.

“It was terrifying, but I received so much support that I knew this was the right thing to do.  Ever since then I’ve been posting unedited photos, sharing my struggles with acne, depression and anxiety in hopes that I can help someone else who struggles with those things.

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA, USA: Kat using a photo editing app (left) and unfiltered (right). MDWfeatures / Kat Neubrand

“I received an outpour of support from my friends, as well as so many strangers which I wasn’t expecting. Being able to share that support with others and helping them has been incredibly rewarding. Acne is completely normal and no one should have to feel ashamed for it.

“Sharing my story on Instagram has helped me in multiple ways. I’m able to speak my truth and I’m no longer hiding my insecurities. It has made me become more confident in real life and I’m just so appreciative of all the people supporting me on this journey. I no longer feel like I’m alone in this.”

Through sharing her story on Instagram, Kat has learnt to embrace her acne scars which she says she wouldn’t have been able to do had it not been for the messages of support she has received.

Kat has a gentle skincare routine that she uses to cleanse and moisturise her skin and she takes Spironolactone which she has taken since November 2018. Since having her contraceptive implant, which she has had for two years removed last month, more of her acne has cleared.

No longer ashamed of her skin, Kat wants others who might be in a similar situation as her to feel the same.

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA, USA: Kat decided to embrace her skin after a severe breakout in December 2018. MDWfeatures / Kat Neubrand

“You don’t need filters and photoshop to be beautiful. Just because that’s all we see on TV and in magazines, doesn’t make it realistic. We need to stop chasing unrealistic beauty ideals, just because society thinks they know what is supposed to be beautiful,” she said.

“Filters and photoshop only create more insecurities for us. They make us hide behind a mask because we don’t think we fit into society’s beauty mould. Different is beautiful. Your imperfections make you beautiful.

“I would like to spread the message of skin positivity. I want people to feel confident in their skin, no matter what. I want society to normalise acne and acne scars and stop the photoshop.

“I want people to see that they don’t need perfect skin to be beautiful and most of all that they are not alone in their struggles. I know it would help tremendously to see models with acne or even actors and actresses with acne on TV and in movies.

“We are constantly comparing ourselves to others, so I think it’s crucial to have a realistic representation of people with acne or acne scars in the media.”