A teenage girl is using social media to fight the stigma of acne by showing off her pimples rather than covering them up with heavy make-up.
Since the age of 11, Hailey Wait, from Buena Vista, Colorado has been dealing with cystic acne – a skin condition that occurs when hair follicles become clogged underneath the skin leaving behind painful bumps.
Now 17, Hailey didn’t need to say sorry for how she looked and decided to fight back by helping other young people struggling with their skin by posing pictures barefaced to “take one for the team”.
“I was overwhelmed when I first saw my acne spread,” she told Barcroft TV.
“It started with my cheeks and then it went to my chin and then my forehead and then it kind of went all over the place.”
“It’s difficult because you can't get rid of it right away and it always feels like there is a little monster egg in your face but you can't get rid of it. Every time you bump into it or barely touch it or something it feels like your face is on fire.
“It was too painful. I remember one night crying in my bed because I was just in so much pain.
“When my acne was at its worst I just felt like I was gross. It was red and splotchy and I just felt like a garbage can. I felt disgusting. I felt like I wasn’t pretty. I didn’t feel like I fit in anywhere, which is silly because everybody or at least more people get acne.
"I had a lot of people at school, kind of, just give me dirty looks. They’d call me 'pizza face’ - you know, those generic acne terms."
But over the last months, Hailey decided to let her face breathe and stopped wearing foundation to show that anyone can be beautiful – whether you have acne or not.
“I felt so insecure about myself that I couldn’t leave the house without foundation,’ she said.
“Sometimes I would even not go anywhere but still put on make-up just so I didn’t feel gross and that’s definitely changed now.
"I stopped wearing it because I just noticed it wasn’t doing anything for me. It was only hiding me and I felt like every time I walked out of the door I wasn’t being myself.
“I feel like I have embraced my acne by not hiding it anymore and just kind of be real with myself and real with other people."
Those closest to Hailey have noticed the change.
“Before Hailey started feeling more confident about her acne, you could tell she was more shut in,” said friend Emma Baroni.
“You could really tell the difference now that she has accepted her acne. All of her Instagram pictures are very open and honest with no makeup, no filters.
“She doesn’t wear foundation anymore and you can tell she is just comfortable with herself.”
"I think sometimes I do feel she is sometimes insecure but still she is working on,” added her dad Lance.
"I mean young adults have all gone through that. It takes time and she is in a good place now. She is really been embracing that.
"It’s huge for me to see her confidence level come up and her embracing the acne and even putting a picture on Instagram like who does that, so that’s to me a lot of confidence."
With over 87,000 followers on Instagram, the artist uses her account to show off her natural face - even if she gets negative comments in a bid to inspire her followers to love the skin they’re in.
“When I started posting more with my real face and without any foundation I definitely got a lot of hate at first because people weren’t used to that,” she explained.
Despite the haters, Hailey’s happy to help others who might be feeling insecure and has vowed only to wear make-up on special occasions.
“I hope my story regarding acne really helps people to realise that just because you have these imperfections doesn’t mean you are not amazing,” she said.
“It doesn’t mean you can’t be successful, it doesn’t mean you can’t be glamorous. Beauty is so much more than your face.”
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