In the Archive: The Skin You’re In

2 years ago by

Looking back, it’s a bit ironic to think that I was a swimmer in high school… because it necessitated so much of my body being shown. A body I was acutely aware of and which I covered as much as possible whenever it wasn’t being obscured by chlorinated water.

Throughout high school and college my arms and upper legs were covered with keratosis pilaris, or raised, red and white bumps that look like acne. Along with the cystic acne on my back and face, and the thick, Greek body hair that sprouted up, well, everywhere, I became a kid who only liked to expose her ankles and wrists. I wouldn’t wish my long-sleeve-sweaty-childhood on anyone.

I began to idolize women in magazines with flawless, caramel skin that had the consistency of a See’s lollipop (I had no idea what photoshop was and oh how that knowledge could have saved so much pain). I believed flawless skin was the definition of beauty, above anything else. And because that supposed pinnacle of beauty felt so unattainable to me, I believed I was unlovable for a very, very long time.

Ten years after high school, the keratosis finally subsided. And five years after that, the scars from it began to fade as well. But they were replaced with a plethora of other fun things such as stretch marks across my hips, varicose veins on my legs, cellulite on my ass and stomach, more cystic acne with more “ice pick scars,” and one gnarly scar on the top of my right wrist that I stare at everyday while I type.

When I had surgery last year to fix my broken wrist, the only thing I was concerned about was that impending scar. Not my wrist’s mobility or recovery, but what was the scar going to look like?? My forearms were the one part of my body that could pass for a See’s lollipop, until now. My obsession and dread over that scar proved to me that my body dysmorphia was an ongoing struggle, instead of something I’d overcome in the past.

While the body positivity (and body neutral) movements have blown open the doors to what is considered beautiful, I still find too few images that show the truth of women’s skin. That it’s not an untouched lollipop, but rather a map of their lived life and unique genetics. Things one can point to, and tell the story of who they are.

So I asked four women with very unique skin to tell me about it. Because without our stories, we’re just dust to dust.

dore the skin you're in beauty

Aleque Reid | @alequereid

I was diagnosed with Scheuermanns Kyphosis when I was twelve. It’s a back disease that affects the curvature of the spine. Essentially, one side (the back) of the vertebral body grows normally and the front grows more slowly or abnormally. This leads to a vertebra with a distinct wedge shape, which leads to an increase in the bend in your upper back, called an increased dorsal kyphosis.

I always knew I’d need surgery. After I was pregnant and started carrying my beautiful daughter, the pain increased exponentially. I eventually found an incredible doctor who performed the surgery for a very low cost. (He’s now a buddy).

I consequently had complications from the first surgery (no fault of the surgeon) that led to my lungs filling with fluid and my right lung collapsing. The second surgery was to handle that. Ha!

dore the skin you're in beauty

dore the skin you're in beauty

I just love my scars. I was never scared about the possibility of a back scar. I believe scars add to my story. I have this thing about leaving a legacy. What kind of a legacy do I want to leave: in spirit, with those around me, physically? The scars let me know what I’ve gone through. They help me tell my story. All the trials associated with them help remind me of how strong I am. 2017 was not an easy year, physically. And yet, I learned to accept more help and love than ever before. I recognized how powerful my body is, what a miracle it is. I used to have severe body dysmorphia. I don’t anymore. My body is capable of so much.

Bree Darby | @blindiangirl

The lighter spots on my body have been around for the past year and a half. I believe that they are genetic because my mother and maternal grandmother have them as well, but I never noticed them because they were usually covered up.

dore the skin you're in beauty

dore the skin you're in beauty

dore the skin you're in beauty

I was a bit self-conscious about them at first. I would even try different home remedies to get rid of them, like turmeric powder or tanning for long periods of time. However, as time went on, I started to embrace them and accept the fact that they are part of me now. Might as well be proud of them!

I am just a plus size woman of color who is still trying to navigate her place in this world, but who is slowly embracing who she is.

Arianna Margulis | @butlikemaybe

I’ve been spotty [with moles] since I was a kid…but, they are definitely starting to multiply with time! I feel like every time I look closely, I’ve got a new dot I don’t recognize. My mom and dad both have moles, and it’s actually something my entire family has to be very careful about. Regular dermatology checkups!

dore the skin you're in beauty

I haven’t always loved my moles – I was teased in high school because I had them all over. Boys used to joke that I probably had them on my bum…which indeed, I do! I did some modeling when I was in college and I remember getting my first big shoot–my arms were completely smoothed and photoshopped to “look more commercial.” I didn’t recognize my skin! Now, I love them because they set me apart. I feel there is an amazing movement right now to embrace and champion the non-conformity. Difference is cool.

I like to call them my chocolate chips, (as an ex aptly named them). My favorite is a giant puffy one on the side of my hip. It’s like a bathing suit beauty mark.

Editor’s Note: Arianna has a book coming out early next year that we can’t wait to read!

dore the skin you're in beauty

dore the skin you're in beauty

Alexis Manson | @Voguishgrace

My freckles started to appear when I was six and we went on vacation to visit my family in Costa Rica. It started with just a few on my nose and then every year we returned to Costa Rica, more and more appeared. The sun there is no joke!

By the time I started 4th grade, my freckles had multiplied. I remember an occasion when my classmate drew a photo of me with a square face and lots of polka dots. I was so embarrassed, I went home and told my mom. She said to me, “Lec, they are beautiful, don’t listen to silly boys.” Well unfortunately, her advice didn’t reach me until I was 18. I was finally at an age when I looked in the mirror, I saw my family in me, and it made me very proud to carry their genetics. Those who know me can attest to this, my family is my entire world. So I’ll take the freckles and whatever else they want to give me.

dore the skin you're in beauty

dore the skin you're in beauty

I try very hard not to cover them, I tend to apply Eighteen B rich cream and Coverfx (Radiance C + Lemongrass) with a little mascara and call it a day. I’m all about showing off these bad boys and making them glow.

At the start of 2018, I launched my brand, called Voguish Grace – publicizing my journey as a represented model, while collaborating with individuals within my niche to merge and expand our networks. I live by this quote that I created: “When all else seems to fail, enlighten the world with your presence.”

dore the skin you're in beauty
dore the skin you're in beauty


Add yours
  • Four gorgeous women and the intro text is perfection. Can we have another round of this story (part ii) with some aging skin in there? Because oh, the fun to be had when the parts you struggled to accept in the first place start wrinkling up and drooping down! And also because the evolution is half the miracle of it all.

  • Veronica McCarthy August, 22 2019, 2:39

    Oh that’s a brilliant idea, Erin! Would love to do that with aging skin and post pregnancy skin! Both which I find beautiful because of the stories they tell. x V

  • I agree with Erin. I love this piece, but as a woman who is about to be 50, I too would love to see a Part II as well. But I really admire these beautiful, young women for embracing all their beauty. I wish I had when I was younger.

  • Just another vote for a Part 2 – the midlife series .

  • C. Swash August, 22 2019, 12:55 / Reply

    So beautiful!

  • I want to be the first one to say thank you, thank you, Veronica, for validating this skin reality! I started developing freckles/moles on my back in the 90’s and horrified reactions from massage therapists and friends at that time made me feel like a pariah for years. I avoided low-back clothing for the longest time. Now it’s simply part of – Me! :D

  • This is one of the many reasons I like tattoos – it feels like claiming back body parts… I wasn’t feeling great about my upper arms but now I have a beautiful mountainscape there and I love it! Next will be a thigh tattoo I think…

  • Diarra Yaw August, 22 2019, 5:20 / Reply

    MORE OF THIS! Yes…ladies! All so beautiful. Thank you for being vulnerable with us.

  • Beautiful ladies & inspiring stories. Well done!

  • There is such beauty in accepting the body you were given. As a woman with scoliosis, I’ve come to love my curvy spine. Yes, my one hip is higher than the other, but I think it gives me character!

    I don’t know what you guys have been doing over there at We Are Dore, but the content the past few days has been awesome. Keep it up.

  • This is what I needed to see and read. Once again, Dore Team, outstanding work. More of this please!

  • I absolutely LOVE this story! I’m just surprised that freckles are something you have to accept. I learned this after the whole discussion surrounding Meghan Markle and accepting her freckles and I was like, wait…, what? Are my freckles even a thing? I was stunned. I always considered them my favourite thing about myself. Never wear foundation (even when I was a teenager with problem skin) because of them. Happy to read you love them now too. Just surprised how many people feel otherwise.

  • Until I saw this I did not even think that my millions of moles might be a thing to be ashamed of.

  • Loved these stories of each of these beautiful women. More of this please!

  • Beautiful post. I only wish that you had included someone with facial acne scars or other facial scars. I have lots of three dimensional acne scars and there’s really no way to cover them up. They’re a part of who I am and honestly I don’t usually think about them nor let them define me. That is, until I see a photo of myself and remember that what everyone else sees is very different from how I see myself!

  • american October, 7 2021, 9:14


  • What a beautiful post and such beautiful women/humans! Thank you for sharing this and thank you to the ladies for sharing their stories.

  • american October, 5 2021, 11:04 / Reply

    somebody who’s been living with hormonal (cystic) acne my whole life, and having a pretty bad stretch of it now, I appreciate this so much. I feel angry and sad that I put my body through harsh chemicals that don’t work, torture it with strong topical solutions, apply makeup daily (even at home by myself because the sight in the mirror pulls me into such a deep depression, – all for the hope of archiving See’s lollipop kinda skin everyone “seems” to have.

    I’d love to see more “real” people with common issues so someone like me can feel ok with what we have. Thank you for the honestly, Veronica!

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