During the time I was building my modeling portfolio, I would post the pictures to Instagram. Afterward, I would get comments like - “You look beautiful! You look amazing! ” They were really nice comments, but they were complimenting an image that didn’t even resemble what I truly looked like. The pictures were beautiful but retouched and unreal. People loved them, but personally, the admiration made me feel very fake. If the people who liked my pictures saw me in real life, I imagined them not even recognizing me. Being unrecognizable was something I never wanted, and hiding my acne made me feel like I was hiding a part of myself. That’s why I began to post my natural skin and create skin positive content.
Back when I was modeling, I portrayed a perfect image that people liked. But as I thought back to growing up and seeing images of really perfect-looking women, I remembered how bad it made me feel. So, doing that to someone else didn’t sit right with me. Every time I posted these retouched images of myself, I assumed that I was making others feel the same way that I did when I was a girl. Growing up, I was always confronted with images that I could not embody.
I felt like I had to achieve the standards of both Eastern and Western beauty standards for my face, my skin, my body, and my hair. That left me confused, and as I kept seeing images of girls who seemed to look perfect on Instagram that became my beauty standard as well. Because I did not look like that, I became very shy about who I was.
Furthermore, I felt like I should look more American. I felt as if I had a mold to fit. I’m Chinese-American, but I felt like I had to be “more American.” I didn’t even know what “more American” meant,
but simply put - I felt like I couldn’t be me. I came to America from China when I was five so I don’t remember anything now, but I do remember feeling the pressure to “fit in” as I got older. On top of it, I started getting acne and this made me even more reserved.
After this, it was hard for me to get to a place of self-love. I just felt like I wasn’t good enough. As self-love comes down to self-worth, feeling this way was a huge barrier. Self-love is a difficult thing to attain when you feel like you’re not worthy without looking a certain way or acting like a specific person. When you’re always focused on who you should be rather than who you are in the moment, it’s hard to find yourself. But from the moment you realize that the only person you can be is yourself, you detach from beauty standards and grow into yourself. You begin to find out what makes you unique and what you’re good at.
Accepting my skin enabled me to be a full-time content creator. Putting so much work into establishing and learning a skill gave me confidence. I was able to fail, grow, and learn on my own. However, I will admit that I was nervous the first time I posted because I didn’t like how my skin looked. I didn’t like my scars. My modeling photos were all taken on a camera so you can see all of the pores, all the fine details, and all of the little hairs on your face.
So, when I looked at the pictures that I was about to post, I was like - “Oh, my gosh. My skin looks like that???” However, I went ahead and posted them. Because at that point, I didn’t care what people were going to say. I didn’t like how I looked to begin with, and basically, I felt like I couldn’t be torn down any further. I had already torn myself down. Ironically enough though, putting my real self out there actually helped me regain my confidence. I was able to reaffirm within myself that - “this is my skin right now. It’s not perfect, but this is my skin right now.” So, that level of acceptance really calmed me down.
I slowly began to post more authentic pictures of my skin, and the response was great. People were saying - “Wow, I struggle with acne too. I’m insecure about that too.” The more I got this type of response and the more people related to me, the more I began to post.
I finally felt real. With skin positivity, I didn’t have to meet specific standards all of the time. I felt like I could truly connect with people. The relationship with my community is much different than when I was pursuing modeling. I like helping inspire people to embrace their skin because after all, love for oneself comes down to acceptance.