Nicola Alpe: Why you don't have to have perfect skin
Nothing reflects the ever-changing ideals of beauty more poignantly for women than fashionable body shapes - from Rubenesque beauties to corseted '50s waists, athletic supermodels of the '80s, waifs of the '90s, and now the seemingly impossible curves and flat stomachs of the Kardashians.
But could there be change afoot? A new form of judgment and impossibly high standards that we can all strive for?
Desirable figures may change and nowadays thankfully not one shape is the ideal, but one thing has stayed the same throughout; flawless, beautiful, young skin.
Our skin is the largest organ in our body which is something difficult to get our heads around, given all of our other organs are buried deep within. We can only presume that the other vital organs inside of us are in reasonable shape, whereas our skin is on constant display and at times it is painfully obvious what's happening inside.
Society may be starting to accept different bodies and we may be slowly working towards accepting our own imperfectly perfect vessels, but are we ready to accept dull skin, breakouts and wrinkles? I'm not so sure.
Our skin is a telltale barometer of what's happening with our overall health, one that you just can't fake. Hormone imbalances, inflammation, poor nutrition, lack of sleep, it all shows up in our skin and sometimes it's not our fault. Airbrushing, beauty entourages and great lighting aside, there is a reason why JLo and Jennifer Aniston glow from within despite both being in their fifties; they take great care to not add to the toxic load on their bodies and in turn on their skin, by adhering to super strict nutrition plans and lifestyles. I guess there has to be a payoff for rewarding yourself with a paltry single M&M as we learnt recently that Jennifer Aniston does.
Last year my body was riddled with inflammation, something which isn't good for the skin. Massive upheaval and acute stress combined with a painful back injury made for bucketloads of awful hormones (and bucketloads of M&Ms), painkillers and more to be pulsing through my body. It was completely out of control and my trusted skincare favourites were on the fritz.
Nothing fixed my skin until the root cause of the inflammation was addressed and once it was, my self-esteem improved massively. Skin problems may be expected in teenagers, but adult acne is demoralising. Let me say though it's far from uncommon, yet more perks of being a woman. I worried that people would judge me as slovenly, unhealthy, having let myself go. I embraced Zoom's retouch feature with gusto.
Mom jeans have given us respite from spilling out of our skinnies, but what gives us respite when a cracking frown line appears seemingly overnight, and society looks upon us as a cranky old bag? BTW, that answer is Botox.
We are learning to embrace different bodies, but the pressure is greater than ever for women to boast flawless complexions and the means to try exists, thanks to the burgeoning skincare market, readily available high-performance products and professional treatments, industry disruptors and the tidal wave of celebrities cashing in on our skin insecurities.
The obsession with our complexions doesn't let up until the day we pop our clogs, and even then, morticians may play around a little to imbue a serene and rested appearance. Even in death it seems there is little tolerance for skin imperfections.