British model, makeup artist, and skin positivity activist Kadeeja Khan gained popularity when she started posting her flawless makeup looks on Instagram as ‘emeraldxbeauty’ in 2016. In 2017, she decided to do something unprecedented by pulling back the Photoshopped mask and letting her followers see her cystic acne.
In doing so, she opened herself to trolls and bullying reminiscent of her experience in secondary school. But on the flip side, her bold move also helped her obtain over 370k followers to date. In a new interview with Vogue UK, Kadeeja said she was tired of pretending to be perfect. She decided to spread awareness in hopes of ending the stigma around having acne.
On her insecurity about her acne
Growing up, I wished I looked like someone else. I first started getting acne in secondary school. Having people call you things such as ‘pizza face’, ‘nuts’, ‘chocolate’, ‘ugly’, ‘dirty’ or ‘bacteria face’ was really hard. Even thinking about it today hurts me. I used to buy the cheapest foundation — whatever I could afford with my pocket money — and I would put layers and layers of it on, trying my hardest to cover the spots. Of course, it didn’t look good. It actually drew more attention to my skin and the condition it was in. But at the time that’s all I knew. I would wear layers of make-up, powder, foundation, lashes and even coloured contact lenses. I was very insecure in myself.
Why she decided to start showing her skin
I was 21 when I first revealed my skin on the internet. I was a make-up artist at the time and I was heavily Photoshopping my images, using the best colours and lighting for the smooth-skin look. My photos literally looked perfect. You would never have guessed I had even one spot on my face. I would get lovely compliments telling me how flawless I was, how beautiful my skin was, how lucky I was to have perfect skin and questions about my secret to flawless skin. Seeing that hurt me. I knew my skin wasn’t like that — far from it. I was tired of being someone else. I wanted to be myself. I wanted to show the world you’re beautiful no matter what condition your skin is in. So I did a make-up tutorial with no filter [or] edit and three years later I’m helping so many people feel beautiful and confident.
What she wants to communicate
I want the world to know that acne still can be beautiful. It may not be the flawless glossy smooth skin that we’re used to seeing, but it’s still beautiful. If you have acne, you should embrace it and not hide it. Everyone deserves to be beautiful no matter what condition their skin is in.
Misconceptions about acne
That people who have it don’t clean their faces, or we don’t clean our pillows or our diets are unhealthy. We’ve all been brought up in a world where flawless skin, hair, and bodies should look a certain way to be ‘beautiful’, and when people see acne, they treat it like a disease!
Now, when scrolling through Kadeeja’s Instagram posts, you’ll find a lot of photos of her skincare products, short videos of her home-beauty treatments, and pictures showing what her face looks like in reality vs. with makeup and photoshop. Accepting herself and skin fully is giving others the confidence to do the same. I hope that her campaign to normalize acne is successful because my teenage acne-prone self is definitely cheering her on.
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REALITY VS PHOTOSHOP 📸💖__ Just a simple reminder that you are worthy with or without clear skin! My skins been up & down lately which can get a little depressing. Having Acne for 10 years + has gotten me use to the up & down rollercoaster😭 However I always remind myself that my skins beautiful no matter what & that it’s just SKIN!💖 LOVE YOURSELF 💖__ #acne #loveyourself #skinpositivity #pcos #photoshop #reality #confidence
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These photos were taken a week apart! I’ve learnt to just get use to my skin being on this up & down rollercoaster! One week it’ll be clear/healthy & the next .. well.. looking like this!😅 It’s crazy how much I’ve broken out this time round!😭Although these spots hurt like crazy! On my Face, Neck, Chest & Back!😭.. I’ve just reminded myself to stay positive & look past my appearance!☺️ Always remind yourself .. You’re Beautiful no matter what!💖 LOVE YOURSELF 💖__ #acne #spot #loveyourself #confidence #skinpositivity #skin #happy