When Jane Blithe Simorangkir was in Secondary 1, her schoolmates used to tell her: “You look like you need something to sand down all your pimples.”
They called her names like “pepperoni pizza”, “concrete face”, and told her that her pimple pus could be used to “make mayonnaise”.
The nasty comments crushed her confidence. “I was so insecure to the point where I just kept putting foundation after foundation so I could cover all my pimples and my acne,” said Jane, who’s now 21 and still coping with hormonal acne.
She’s asked her mother to take her to the dermatologist. “I did a lot of things, I did Accutane, I did facials, tried a lot of different skincare products and tried a lot of different things, but it still didn’t work,” Jane recalled, adding that her mental health wasn’t in a good place for many years.
Unexpectedly, when the 21-year-old started using TikTok last year and discovered a whole community of personalities who’re comfortable in their own skin despite having less than picture-perfect complexion, her confidence returned.
She also looked up to TikTokers who have shown their bare skin in filter-free videos along with a trending audio narration about textured skin. Jane felt empowered as she watched these clips.
She said: “When I see my fellow textured friends showing off their skin, I’m like, yeah, you go girl! Because you’re still beautiful, still awesome, you’re your own person.”
On 6 May, Jane felt so inspired that she posted a TikTok video of herself lip-synching and dancing to a trending song without any filters.
The video was a hit. Jane received so much love and encouragement from fellow users that she’s overwhelmed. “No one has ever reached out to me and told me that I’ve inspired them,” she said.
Stephanie Lim Jing Pei, 19, is among those who felt empowered after seeing Jane’s video.
“I liked the video because the way she carried herself with so much confidence showed that she really just didn’t care about what other people thought of her,” said Stephanie, who also has textured skin.
“Even though she most probably didn’t get to that point overnight, and acne is probably still a big insecurity for her, she still managed to have the confidence to post it online,” Stephanie added.
Jane still has her fair share of haters on social media, but she has learnt to ignore the trolls.
“Sometimes my skin has almost no pimples and I still get hate comments. When I have a lot of pimples, I still get hate comments, so what’s the point?” she said.
After lots of research, Jane has also come to accept that hormonal acne is a common skin condition that most people have no control over.
“Having flawless skin…it’s good. You’re blessed. You’re blessed with flawless skin and you should love your skin,” she said.
“But people who are born with textured skin are also blessed. [We have] to normalise it, to show people that it’s fine having all these textures, it’s normal.”
To those who feel insecure about their imperfect skin, Jane recommends taking “baby steps” like trying to leave home without makeup for a day.
“If you can take the first step to go out with no makeup and tell yourself, ‘Oh my God, I’m so beautiful’, that’s good enough. That’s a very huge step [towards] loving your textured skin.”