We had the good fortune of connecting with Wendy Lewis and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Wendy, is your business focused on helping the community? If so, how?
I started The Acne Effect to raise awareness and educate the public about the impact that acne has on mental health. It is estimated that about 90% of the world population is affected by acne at some point in their lifetime. Acne is a chronic skin condition that impacts an individual’s life much deeper than what appears on the skin’s surface; it is often life-altering. Statistically, individuals with acne have been found to suffer anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, and overall a lesser quality of life at a much higher rate than individuals without acne. It is common for people with acne to neglect their mental health while focusing solely on clearing up their skin, believing their issues will go away if they can achieve clear skin again. This is often so far from the truth. In fact, something I often say on my platform is that mental health and skin should be treated simultaneously. If you’re not treating your mental health at the same time as your skin, you’re doing your skincare routine all wrong. My mission with The Acne Effect is to help end acne stigma and stereotypes, fight for acne and scar representation in the media, and to help individuals focus on prioritizing mental health to help their acne journey be less challenging.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I officially joined the acne community in December 2019 after I noticed there wasn’t a single account out there dedicating itself to the impact that acne has on mental health. Most of the accounts I’ve come across online in the acne community are dedicated to sharing skincare products and their personal healing journey. I believed there was a market for what I wanted to do with The Acne Effect because mental health affects everyone. Not everyone can afford skincare products, but everyone deals with mental health issues and can afford to improve their well-being. I knew early on that I didn’t want The Acne Effect to be just about myself and my personal journey with acne. I wanted to create a space where I challenge beauty standards, highlight injustices brought on by acne stereotypes and a lack of representation in the media, and where individuals could tell their stories about their life with acne. Early on, I found a lot of challenges in being taken seriously because I no longer have active acne. Additionally, I grew up in a time before camera phones and social media, so it was easy for me to avoid having my picture taken. I don’t have “before and after” photos of my acne to show the community, which in some regards appears to be a “must” on this platform in order to quickly grow your account. Because I wholeheartedly believe in what I’m doing, walking away from this mission was never an option. A lot of people are suffering because of their acne, and I spent more than 15 years of my life in their shoes. I believe I am the person to help them. I understand, firsthand, how deeply challenging and life-altering it is to have acne. While I can’t clear anyone’s skin, I can encourage and help people to view life a bit differently, to realign their thoughts, and focus on their core values in order to become happier and more fulfilled in life.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I spent so much of my life shying away from the spotlight. The shame and pain I felt from 15 years of cystic acne, in addition to the physical and emotional scars they left behind, challenged my life in many ways. Years ago I came across Brené Brown’s Ted Talk The Power of Vulnerability, and it was like she was speaking directly to me. Immediately after, I read her books The Gifts of Imperfection and Daring Greatly and it pretty much went uphill from there. Her words encouraged me to embrace the unknown, take risks, face my shame and become more vulnerable in order to connect on a deeper level with others. I found a lot of strength in myself and what I could achieve from Brené Brown’s teachings.
I commission the talented artist Marcela Sabiá (instagram.com/marcelailustra) for illustrations, such as “the world has acne” and the abstract image of the girl with acne.