This college student is proving 'acne is normal' with provocative photo series

As brands move to embrace bodies of all sizes and models pose for unretouched magazine spreads, one photographer is working to add another component to the body-positive movement: acne.

Peter DeVito, a college student at The Fashion Institute of Technology, has gained a following on Instagram for unretouched close-ups of skin emblazoned with phrases like “retouch” and “acne is normal.” Included in his series is a self-portrait of his own skin: “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,” he captioned the photo.

His photos have inspired hundreds of comments, including one repost from Cara Delevingne, who wrote: “It’s so wrong that if I had taken that picture of myself, then I wouldn’t have posted it.” Other fans agree that DeVito is making a much-needed statement. “I love this so much because I have always been so self-conscience because of my acne,” one person commented on the photo above. “This photos means so freaking much to me, you have no idea,” wrote another.

“I chose to focus on close-up portraits of acne because like many people, I struggle with acne, and I wanted to create something that showed how getting acne is normal and that it’s nothing to be ashamed of,” DeVito tells Yahoo Lifestyle. His work is a reminder that body positivity has a wide reach.

DeVito had trouble finding models at first, as “a lot of people aren’t comfortable posting unretouched images of themselves.” He shares that “[he] wasn’t comfortable either, but this project forced me to come out of my comfort zone, and I’m grateful that I did.” He snagged model and blogger Cassandra Bankson for a photo shoot after they ran into each other on the street. As for the rest, DeVito recruits on Instagram.

The photo series may also serve as an inspiration to others who are working to open up the conversation about acne. Along with DeVito, we love acne blogger Hailey Wait, who describes herself as a “professional pizza face.” Wait frequently shares unedited photos of her skin and has written about her journey to accepting her skin. Em Ford of My Pale Skin Blog is another influencer who’s made acne her cause. Ford embraces her skin while still helping fans with acne-covering tutorials.

Even inside the beauty industry, brands are starting to further the conversation on retouching. CVS announced a ban on retouched photos in all of its beauty imagery. While we don’t expect to see a zit-covered model on any of their product packaging, embracing wrinkles and blemishes in more honest brand photography is a step in the right direction.

As it says right in DeVito’s photos, “acne is normal.” Why edit it out?

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