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Mental Health and Acne

10 October 2020 08:56

It's that time of the month to hear from the lovely Joanna at Beautiful By Breakfast. 

Joanna’s thoughts…

Here’s a little insight to what’s going on in my brain when I'm not thinking about skincare and by the end I’m sure you’ll reach the conclusion that it’s absolute chaos! Only I could talk about mental health, halloween, sharks and Hollywood in 600 words!

Hello October! As the days grow increasingly shorter we have to remind ourselves 2020 isn’t over yet! And while many of us will be pleased to welcome in a new year, we don’t have to wait until 2021 to reflect on how the last twelve months has impacted us psychologically. 

This month we mark October 10 - World Mental Health Day. But what does that mean to you? For me it is quite symbolic. World Mental Health Day. We’ve endured this pandemic together so what better time to de-stigmatize mental health than on a global scale?

October also brings Halloween! Witch, if I’m honest I have mixed feelings about. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist!) As a child I had a black cat, so every year I would dress up as the obligatory witch. With just one old broom, a green wig and a black garbage bag I was transformed! As an adult without children, the concept of “trick or treat” doesn’t sit right with me but maybe the image of rotten eggs running down my windows is souring my mood! (I’m not sure what the scrooge alternative is for this “holiday”?!) Don’t get me wrong, I love those cute little decorative pumpkins and the autumnal vibes, but what I really struggle with is the stereotype of what is “scary”.

In recent weeks Hollywood has been criticised for using facial disfigurement to provoke revulsion with their latest Bond villain (Rami Malek). As an activist for acne positivity across all media, I’m so frustrated to see no progression in this industry despite the growing demand for it.  In film, acne has historically been used to represent evil, scary, teenage or geeky characters, never the screen lead. Maybe that’s what’s really scary… we are all constantly being told what is beautiful/good and what is ugly/evil. You might be reading this and argue that you’re not a zombie (well not until October 31 anyway) and you can think for yourself! But quite often these suggestions are so subtle we don’t even realise what we are programmed to recoil from. Let me give you another example… If I say the word “shark”, it will either prompt you to hum two notes (E and F from Jaws) or make you think twice about getting in the ocean the next time you’re at the coast. And similarly if you hear the Jaws music you will instantly think of imminent danger. But when it comes to sharks, you have a 1 in 11.5 million chance of experiencing a close encounter with one so you can thank Steven Spielberg and John Williams for invoking world-wide fear of these big fish. So are sharks really villains? Before you decide, consider that it is estimated (conservatively) that 100 million sharks are killed by humans each year, in contrast to the 5 human deaths caused by sharks in 2019.

So how do we break free from stereotypes? And what do we want to see instead? Movies are made based on what they think people will pay to see. And when you think about it like that; we hold more power than we realise. So I guess the real question is, how are you going to make your voice heard?

Normally I finish off these blogs with a caution to question what's real in this filtered world, but this month (in light of Halloween) I challenge you to reevaluate what's scary.