Words: Beth Fuller
Featured Image: Peter DeVito
Peter DeVito, the New York-based photographer is showing us the reality of unretouched skin and its empowering beauty. By bringing us close up to what society tells us ought to be concealed, or, photoshopped, DeVito’s images tell us that acne is normal; there is nothing wrong in showing skin with a texture.
However trivial the topic of acne may seem to some, if you have ever suffered with the painful condition, you will understand the severity of the emotional challenges it causes. Acne can be the reason someone is bullied at school, the reason a person is told they don’t look ‘presentable’ at work, and the reason someone feels undesired, or even unloved. Hence, a crucial part of suffering with acne is the overwhelming pressure of having to hide it. In a liberating way, DeVito’s images smash these societal beliefs that acne should be covered. And so, the struggle to separate yourself from your ‘bad skin’ is no longer there. Yes, acne exists on some people’s skin, but, DeVito’s photography proves it should not define their character.
DeVito’s images feature labels stuck onto the subject’s skin reading empowering messages such as “acne is normal”, “love yourself” and “
retouch.”. Theses labels therefore counteract society’s labels of a person with acne; almost as though the skin itself is given a voice. On his reason for beginning to present skin in this way, DeVito explained in an interview with Elle that: “I was really inspired because a lot of people on social media started posting things about body positivity and self-acceptance, but I felt like there was an absence of people with acne”.
#AcneIsNormal – In 2017, I took barely any pictures of myself because I hated the way my skin looked. In 2018, I’m going to take as many as possible because even with my acne, I still look better than most of y’all headass bitches😏 *this is probably the last acne word portrait I’m doing of myself, but I’m going to pursue different projects that have to do with acne👌*
Peter DeVito is therefore opening a space for people with acne to simply be themselves without the pressure to ‘manage’ their skin. Due to this introduction of acne in the self-care movement, many people share their relief in seeing images of people with skin resembling their own on their social media feeds, competing on his artwork messages such as: “I’ve been suffering from acne for more than 20 years. This pic makes me feel better about myself. Thank you for sharing.”. Thankfully, something that was once deemed as ‘ugly’ can now be seen as a mark of acceptance, honesty and bravery.