prismacolor pencils; 8.5×6.75”
“As a teenager in the age of social media, constantly seeing “perfect” girls that are actually photoshopped and filtered, having severe cystic acne took a huge toll on my mental health. For years, I wouldn’t even step foot out of my room without packing on layers of concealer and foundation to cover up my imperfections. Acne was my biggest insecurity, and I tried every skincare product and treatment in an attempt to fix it. Eventually, I started a powerful drug called Accutane that finally cleared my skin. This self-portrait was drawn in reference to a real progress photo of my skin at its worst. This is the most real, raw, and vulnerable version of myself. I researched different flowers that symbolized the stages in my acne journey and added them into the portrait. The anemone in my hair represents fragility and the verbena, meaning “pray for me”, shows desperation. On the flip side, daffodils, white roses, and the lotus illustrate new beginnings and rebirth. Everyone struggling with acne needs to know that there is hope and that it does not define your beauty.”

ARTIST BIO: Ellie Cox is a Grade 12 student at Oak Hills High School (OHHS).