Rachael: Hello and welcome to Skin Stories. Heartfelt conversations, empowering stories, and a touch of laughter brought to you by tbh Skincare. Join us as we explore the highs, lows, and everything in between with real people who have bravely faced the challenges of diverse skin conditions. Hosted by the ever inspiring Olivia Molly Rogers, this podcast is here to remind you that you are not alone in your skin struggles. At tbh Skincare, we believe that everyone deserves to feel comfortable in their own skin, and our podcast is here to guide you on that journey. So, whether you're seeking solace, inspiration or simply looking to expand your skincare knowledge, Skin Stories is the ultimate destination. Let's deep dive into the world of skin one story at a time.
So, some of you may already be aware that Olivia is currently an ambassador for tbh Skincare. I'd actually love to start there a little selfishly to chat about how that partnership actually came about before we jump into your own personal skin story.
Olivia: Yeah, well, I was so excited when you guys reached out to my management. A lot of brands touch base, and it's not always an instant yes, but for this, it definitely was, because as I told you when we caught up, we had lunch once we'd sort of had our initial discussions, and I bought tbh products two years ago when you were just a little baby brand because a friend recommended it – because most people knew that I was struggling with my acne, and she was like you have got to try this brand. So, I bought the whole range back then, and I loved when I received the package. The branding was so fun, and it felt like the first time that I had bought an acne product that wasn't super clinical and boring and depressing.
Rachael: I remember this lunch date that we went on, and when you told me that you had bought the products, I died.
Olivia: But you also didn't believe me.
Rachael: I know I didn't believe you.
Olivia: You thought I was just, like, sucking up to you, I think.
Rachael: I was like, no, she didn't. And then I got in the Uber and I found the order number, and I was like, Yep. January 2021, I think it was.
Olivia: It was almost a year to the day.
Rachael: Like, two years.
Olivia: Yeah, two years to the day. So, yeah, I tried the product, loved it. I still was in a period of really struggling with my acne, so I was doing too much. I think if I had pared it back then and just stuck to that, then I would have been okay. But I think, you know the feeling of, like, when you're feeling overwhelmed with your skin and in the job that I'm in, I've always got to be at events and photoshoots and have my skin on show, basically. So, I was panicking, and I was trying all these different things, so I did too much and I feel like I really overdid it with my skin.
So, I tried tbh, loved it, but then had two more years, or almost two more years, of trying too many other things. But now I've really pulled it back and my skin's loving me for it.
Rachael: I think it's a very common thing to do, is try and punish your skin into healing – it's like, I'm just going to throw every single active ingredient that I can at you.
Olivia: And then just, like, burn.
Rachael: Yeah. And no nourishment in that at all. No actual care for the skin, because it's like you're just trying to punish it into like, “listen to me!”
Olivia: Yeah, it doesn't work that way.
Rachael: So tell us a bit more about your background, what your childhood was like, how your high school experience was and sort of what you thought you wanted to be when you grow up. Like, a bit more about Olivia for those who don't know.
Olivia: Okay. I grew up in Adelaide. I was one of three kids initially. My parents ended up splitting up and Dad remarried and had two more. So now I say there's three OGs and then two additionals. So, I've got two brothers and two sisters, which is great. Big fam. But, yeah, I had a good childhood. I think I was very lucky in a lot of ways and I generally enjoyed school.
I was a bit of a nerd. I loved studying and doing well. I was one of those annoying type A personalities. I really liked getting good marks, so I was often just studying till midnight. Such a nerd.
Mum would actually say to me, she's like, “don't go study, come shopping with me”. The opposite of what I think most parents like. She's like, don't be boring. Come on, let's go shopping. I'm like, Mum, no, I got to study. So, yeah, loved studying. Loved reading, loved art, painting. It's very crafty. Not sporty whatsoever.
Rachael: Yeah right.
Olivia: Yeah, not at all. Could not catch a ball to save my life. I tried probably every sport, but failed miserably. I think I was lucky. I had a lot of lovely friends.
I did struggle a bit. I think everybody does, around 14, Year 9, I found it really challenging. That’s around the time that I first experienced acne, I think from the age of, 13, probably. That really affected my confidence. And I feel like at a time where you're struggling with who you are anyway, it was definitely an extra challenge. So, yeah, I found it hard. My little sister is 14 now, and we have a lot of good chats about what she's going through with school and that kind of thing. And I'm like, I just don't think that you could pay me enough money to go back to that age.
Rachael: No, it's so hard.
Olivia: Such a hard age.
Rachael: I had the exact same thing. It’s just awful.
Olivia: Yeah, it’s really hard. And I think the tricky thing too is that so many people say to you that school years are the best years of your life. And I was like, Are you kidding me? Is this as good as it gets, because this sucks. I don't want to feel like this for the rest of my life. And they're telling you, that that's the peak.
I think that's why so many teenagers struggle, because people tell you to make the most of it, school is the best, and then if you're struggling, you're like, well?
Rachael: What's wrong with me?
Olivia: Surely it gets better from here. It does. It definitely gets better. But I was generally a pretty happy kid, but pretty insecure. And I did struggle.
Rachael: What did Olivia want to be when she was that 14 year old little girl?
Olivia: I changed my mind so many times. Because I loved art so much, I considered being an artist, but then people sort of shut that down and told me that it's all well and good to want to do that, but you will never make any money.
Olivia: So, you probably shouldn't. As if that's the most important thing. But then, with how much I loved being an academic, studying, I loved science and I loved subjects where you could know the answers. Like, I didn't enjoy English and stuff so much because it was too subjective. I liked knowing that I could learn all of this and I could get the answer.
Rachael: It was right or wrong.
Olivia: Yeah! Biology, physics. So I thought I'd do something medical or science based, allied health. I ended up getting into speech pathology, which I felt like was a combination of a lot of the things that I wanted to do. I wanted to help people and I wanted to do something sciency, and I liked psychology, and so it sort of combined a lot of things that I enjoyed.
Rachael: Yeah, wow. And so, are you still practising speech?
Olivia: No. So I studied that and I loved the course. It was really hard and I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well. It was four years, but I did my first year and then I took a year off to model and do all of those things.
Then I went back to speech, finished my degree. As much as modelling did become a part of my life, I always saw that as a side thing and speech was going to be my main career and that's what I was going to do. But then Miss Universe happened and threw a real spanner in the works. That was in 2017. I didn't think it was going to be a thing. It was just something that I sort of reluctantly agreed to do and thought, I'll just see how it goes.
Olivia: And when that happened my life really changed. I did end up going back to speech for a period, but it was just really hard trying to balance the stuff that I do, you know the social media side of things, with a job that is quite rigid. I would go into the clinic and had my clinic days which was very set. It was driving me insane trying to balance both. So I figure, I can always go back to speech and I miss it, I absolutely loved it. But, I think the work that I'm doing now, I don't think that's forever. I don't know. But it's nice to have a solid backup anyway.
Rachael: Yeah. Amazing.
So, we're here to talk specifically about skin today, and we all know, and you've already touched on this, that skin is intrinsically linked to our overall well-being, our overall feelings of self-worth. Tell us a little bit about the relationship you have with your skin today and the history behind it.
Olivia: Today, my skin is in a really good spot. I would say I don't have acne anymore. I feel like I need to touch wood because then I'm going to wake up tomorrow with all this acne.
Rachael: That’s exactly how I feel. I had a nightmare last night that it came back.
Olivia: Isn't it crazy? I think even that says a lot that that's how you feel. You don't feel quite secure when your skin's good. I feel like the rug is going to be pulled from underneath me because I haven't ever had a really long period of time with clear skin. So, I definitely don't take it for granted. Genuinely, when I look in the mirror and right now, I have a pimple sitting on my lip, but it's covered by my lip liner.
Rachael: Yeah, we can't see.
Olivia: Go ahead and zoom in on the video. It's just so ironic. I feel like when I'm shooting with you guys, I always get a pimple.
Rachael: Makes you relatable. It's good.
Olivia: But, yeah, I am grateful for my skin. When I look in the mirror and I have one pimple, I'm like, oh, that pimple is annoying but it's okay, because what I'm used to, there was a time when I probably had 50 pimples, so I can deal with one. I could deal with ten. But compared to how it used to be, I do genuinely feel very grateful for where I'm at. And I'm also grateful to my skin because I think I put it through so much. Like we were saying at the beginning, you sort of punish it. I felt like I was punishing my skin for so long, which probably made it worse or definitely made it worse. And so I'm like, thank you for sticking by me, even though I put you through so much and hated you for so long. I hated my skin and I do think the negative self-talk doesn't help.
Olivia: It doesn't help your skin to heal because in hindsight, I think stress was playing a huge part in my skin and my body. There were so many things off in my body and that was showing through my skin. I think the way that I was talking to myself, it wasn't helping.
So my relationship with my skin has been complex over the years. I think from a young age, when I first got acne, I actually got it on my back at first, and I didn't know. I was feeling really itchy on my back, but because I wasn't checking my back in the mirror I didn’t know. Which maybe was a blessing, because I don't know how long I'd had it for without actually knowing. But I was babysitting my cousins and I was changing. I took off a jumper in front of them and it pulled up my top underneath and my cousin said, what are all those red spots on your back? And I was like, oh, I don't know.
Rachael: Kids are so brutally honest.
Olivia: I know, but I genuinely didn't know. Because I have been a bit itchy. Maybe it's a rash. I showed my dad, and my dad is a GP, and he was like, oh, that's acne. And I was like, oh my God! because I'd heard about acne. The way that it was spoken about in anything that I'd learned about was very, very negative and something to be embarrassed about.
So, I thought I can no longer wear anything where my back shows. And for a long time I did that. I would always wear a rash top at the beach or by the pool or try and make sure I was covering. I was at an all-girls school and we would change for sport in front of each other, but I was always very covered. I got very good at changing in a way that you couldn't see anything. But I wasn't just self-conscious of my skin, but my body as well. I just felt very uncomfortable in my own skin, which is not a nice feeling.
Rachael: No, horrible. But I think probably an experience that quite a lot of people can relate to unfortunately.
Olivia: Yeah. Acne or no acne, I think your teenage years, your body's changing so much. It's like you sort of adjust to something, and then something else changes. So, it's just a constant feeling of being uncomfortable. But having acne didn't help. And then when it was on my face, I think my back was something that I could hide a bit more. But when it came to my face, I was so embarrassed, and I remember wearing makeup all the time. Which of course, I think made it worse because it would clog my pores. And my sister would say that to me. ‘
My sister had perfect skin. It was so annoying. And she'd say, Olivia, stop wearing so much makeup. And I would say, I can't, because then you can see it all. She would say you're making it worse. You either let it be and try and get it better, but you've got to sit through the uncomfortable feeling of thinking that everybody's looking at your skin. So, I felt better if I covered it up. So, yeah, it was a constant battle.
Rachael: It's interesting, that process, though, of covering it up constantly, almost reinforces to your own brain that you need to keep covering up and keep concealing it. And also, I feel like it makes you hyper vigilant of always being super aware of your skin. I think that I've noticed as I've gotten older, I've stopped doing that so much, and it's actually lessened the impact mentally that it has on me. Because once you stop covering it, it doesn't have the same hold on you that it does if you're constantly checking to see if you can see something.
Olivia: I agree with that so much because you fixate on it. I would take a concealer with me everywhere I went.
Rachael: So did I.
Olivia: Anytime I went to the bathroom, I'd check. Have I knocked off any? Or if I had hugged someone and I thought that their face touched mine, I'm like, oh, they've taken off my makeup. I would panic and need to go to the bathroom. I had a boyfriend when I was younger, and I don't think he ever saw me without makeup. I'd wake up before him in the morning, put makeup on, go to bed with it on. I would go to the gym with it on.
Olivia: I just could not be without my security blanket, which was a bit of makeup.
Rachael: Yeah that was me as well. I think I was about 25 when I left the house without makeup for the first time.
Olivia: That’s so sad. Now I'm getting older and I'm starting to get wrinkles and stuff. I'm so annoyed that at a time when my skin was at its youngest and freshest, I was covering it up. I see young skin now, and I'm like, oh, it's beautiful. To have that again. I never look at someone else with pimples and think, ew. But I did just about myself.
Rachael: Everyone's so self-critical.
Olivia: Yeah. Our own worst critics, that's for sure.
Rachael: So you already referred to it a little bit, but when you first started experiencing acne, so when your dad was like, oh, my gosh, that's acne, did you have misconceptions around it? What were your initial thoughts? And with hindsight, what do you think about that now?
Olivia: I thought it was my fault. I thought maybe I was eating the wrong things and there was a lot of talk around it being a dirty thing as well.
Rachael: Yes, hygiene-related is a big one.
Olivia: People would say it's because you don't wash your sheets enough, that sort of thing. And then also eating too much sugar. So then I got paranoid. It's such a fragile age anyway, so to start thinking that what I was putting into my body (was the reason/cause of acne). And I know that there is a part of that, but it's not the whole cause.
Rachael: No hardly. Especially not at puberty.
Olivia: No, it was not that. So then I started getting paranoid about everything I was putting in my body. And then looking at all my friends who didn't have acne and I'm like, why do I have this and they don't? I must be doing something wrong.
And then even my sister. My sister and I are only 15 months apart, and she had this perfect skin. So I'm like, why? We have the same genes. Why do I have this and you don't have this? I must be doing something wrong. That was such an awful mindset to have because when you're thinking that it's your fault, but you don't know what it is, then you're trying to pinpoint all these different things in your life and you can't. You drive yourself crazy and just completely fixate on it. So, my biggest misconception was that it was my fault and that it was something quite dirty and something to be ashamed of.
Hey, guys. Founder Rach here. It's time for a quick break in this episode because I want to give a shout out to tbh Skincare's incredible mental health partner, ReachOut Australia. ReachOut Australia have amazing online resources. They cover everything from how to deal with acne or confidence problems through to sexuality and other challenges that young Australians face. So, if you're not sure where to turn to, definitely go and check out reachoutaustralia.com. They've got some really amazing online forums there as well where you can connect with other people who might be going through something similar to you. As part of celebrating the amazing work that ReachOut Australia does, we are going to be donating a dollar from every single order in September on tbhskincare.com to this incredible organisation.
Okay, it's time to get back to today's episode.
Rachael: Can you share some of the challenges you faced when it came to actually seeking diagnosis for it and treatment?
Olivia: When I was 13, maybe 14, I think it was around that time, Mum took me to a doctor and straight away he just put me on the pill.
Rachael: Wow. Yes. That's the same as everyone.
Olivia: I was so young.
Rachael: I feel like it was really an era of the pill for everything, every problem.
Olivia: Yeah. And then I felt so awkward when I would go and get it because it seemed like I was a very sexually active 13 year old and I wasn't, I just had a lot of pimples. There was no real care around it. He basically said get Cetaphil, get something without any fragrance and go on the pill. I went on the pill and I think it cleared it up for a period, but then it still remained, it was still there. Then I tried antibiotics, I tried this other herbal remedy, this awful thing that smelt so bad. I remember once I was taking it on the way to school and I didn't have any water left in my bottle and I swallowed this capsule and it got stuck in my throat and opened and all of the smelly stuff came out. It was revolting. I can still taste it when I think about it. I tried that, and it didn't work. Then I tried these really strong topical ointments. I can't remember the brand, but it was something that old celebrities were promoting. It just burnt my skin, stained my sheets, stained the towels.
Rachael: Sounds like benzoyl peroxide.
Olivia: Yeah. I think it was in everything. So all it did was burn my skin, made it more inflamed and angry. Also, someone told me not to moisturise because that adds oils. So all I was doing was drying it out and it was so sore.
Rachael: Your skin overproduces oil to compensate for the dryness, so actually makes it worse.
Olivia: Yeah, it just kept making it worse and then it was just a constant cycle. Also, I don't think I ever really committed to one thing for that long because I was feeling so stressed by it. After two weeks I’m like oh, this isn't working, I've got to try the next thing. So, I was switching it up too much and just punishing my skin, feeling miserable, because then every day I'd wake up with a new pimple, and I just hated it.
Rachael: Defeated by it.
Rachael: The number one reason why acne treatments fail is time of use. It’s an actual stat.
Olivia: But it is, it makes sense. You're panicking. You're like, give me the next thing. And you're constantly looking things up. I was researching things and I would read Dolly magazine. I'm trying one thing, and then I see these fake results usually, of what someone else is using. So, I was like, well, I've got to try that.
Rachael: Yeah. I think there's a lot more education around these days. I don't think people are just taking the pill so lightly anymore. I think they're considering how harsh the ingredients are that they're using. I'm glad to see that that's changed a bit. I've lived the exact same thing. Going on the pill, being put through all of these different treatments, and it's pretty intense.
Olivia: Yeah. And then I did Roaccutane as well.
Rachael: Oh wow.
Olivia: I tried all those things. And then at 15, I did Roaccutane. A course of that.
Rachael: That's young.
Olivia: But the dermatologist said to me, you shouldn't experience acne again after this. But I did. It worked. It was awful. I was a rower at school. I couldn't catch a ball but then when I did rowing, I was like, oh, I can actually do this. This is great. So, I was putting my body through a lot with exercise, and the muscle cramps that I experienced because of the treatment was pretty awful. The dryness was unbelievable.
Rachael: Well, it takes away all your sebum production, which is even in your joints, so your joints become stiff.
Olivia: Yeah. It was not a comfortable experience, but it worked and I was so excited when my skin was clear. I think it lasted maybe a year and then came back with a vengeance. I ended up trying a whole bunch of different things again and then when I was 22, I went back on Roaccutane.
So two courses of Roaccutane. And with the second one, this different dermatologist said to me, well, because you were 15, you were still going through hormonal changes, but now doing it at 22, you won't get it back. But I did.
Rachael: My gosh, you've really been through the wringer.
Olivia: Yeah. It's been a real journey. So, after going on that again at 22, it was a different course, it was a lower dose over a longer period of time, it ended up coming back. To be fair, I think a lot of that during that period was stress. I had an eating disorder at the time and I didn't start the recovery from my eating disorder until, like, 25.
Olivia: So after Roaccutane, I think the stress that my body was under really didn't help for a long period, and I was still so uncomfortable in my body. So, there's a lot from that that I did, I think, played a part.
Rachael: It's all connected.
Olivia: Yeah. But I was just so frustrated and I felt so, I think embarrassed. And I did. I still felt like it was my fault because I'm like, why are these doctors saying that these things are going to work and then they just don't work? There must be something wrong with me. So, yeah, it was hard.
Rachael: That's terrible. So, how did you cope with the feelings of the societal pressures as well? Because you were going through modelling as well during this time. So, what was that like? How did you cope dealing with acne and then being in an environment where you had lots of eyeballs on you or you were trying to live up to a certain image?
Olivia: Yeah, not very well. I think that's why my eating disorder lasted so many years, because that felt like the thing that I could sort of control. I couldn't control my skin and I couldn't control how people perceived me and what they would say about it. Makeup artists on shoots would always comment on my skin. And I know they weren't meaning to be mean, but the unsolicited advice was unreal, and people tell you to try this random remedy, thinking that I haven't tried everything under the sun, and that would really frustrate me.
Rachael: And you're bare faced, you're naked. That would be very exposing as someone who's self-conscious of their skin.
Olivia: I was so self-conscious. But I loved when I would have a full glam shoot. If I rocked up to a shoot and they said we’re doing a really pared back look today, minimal makeup up, I was like, no I don't like that.
If I got to control makeup, it would be full coverage. I don't want to see a single mark on my skin. So, I really struggled when it would be minimal makeup, raw photos. Even knowing if they were going to edit something out, I was just so self-conscious and you could see it in the photos.
Rachael: I think it’s how you feel, and it projects.
Olivia: Yeah, so you could definitely see that I was uncomfortable through a lot of that. It was very ironic. I was doing something where you're really putting yourself out there and people assume that you're so confident but I was at my most insecure at that point.
Rachael: So from about the age of 25, you mentioned you started seeking recovery for the eating disorder. Do you think that's when you started making positive changes to try and take control of the mindset you had?
Olivia: I had been struggling with my eating disorder for many years, as I mentioned. I had wanted to get better, but it's really difficult. I think there was one thing that really kick started my want to get better to a point where I was like, I really need to do this.
I was working with kids with my speech pathology work, and I was seeing this gorgeous young girl and she put me on such a pedestal. Her mum would always say to me how she looked up to me, and she was like, oh, I want to be like Olivia when I grow up. It was so nice, but I felt like such a phoney because I was like, well, she doesn't know what I'm doing behind the scenes and that I'm not very well. I have this eating disorder, and I would hate for this young girl to grow up and be doing what I'm doing. I wouldn't wish it upon anyone.
So I thought, I need to get better so that I can feel okay with that being a compliment. That a young girl would like to be like me. Only if I can actually get better. It just so happened that it lined up with when I got asked to do Miss Universe. It was around the same time that I really started recovering or trying to recover. I did it very much on my own, which I regret. I really think it would have helped if I'd had a lot more support, but I set myself goals for recovery. When I decided that I would do Miss Universe, I also decided that I would speak openly about my eating disorder because then I thought, if I put it out there, everyone's going to know, and then people will pick up on behaviours which, in a way, maybe that sounds bad. I was letting people watch and make sure that I wasn't doing it.
Rachael: But it’s accountability. It’s letting other people make sure you're accountable.
Olivia: I think when it comes to an eating disorder, you're in your head so much the entire time, so you can't just leave it up to yourself. I think that was sort of my way of seeking support. Telling other people, making sure that they knew and then holding myself accountable. I thought, well, if I tell them, they're going to be watching out for it and it was kind of pressure, but a positive pressure to get better.
Olivia: I think the thing that helped and it helped with my skin too, because I still struggled with my skin then, but more positive self-talk. I stopped being so mean to myself in all different ways. So, when it came to my body, I had to start speaking to myself in a more positive way. Then I would do that with my skin as well. I think it has a bit of a flow on effect and it helps, for sure.
Rachael: 100%. Isn't it so funny that with that little girl, you would never want her hearing the messages that you gave yourself. You definitely have that change of perspective where you go, I should not have been that mean to myself.
Olivia: 100%. Also having a little sister, I think that helped me so much too, because I would think about the way that I would talk to myself, and I would try and stop myself in those moments and be like, you would never speak to Harriet like this, so why are you saying this to yourself? If I knew that my sister was talking to herself like that, I would be mortified and so sad. So, I really had to try and step out of myself and think about it a different way.
Rachael: You've got to go and have a conversation with yourself. Like what am I gaining out of doing this? Also, you're the one living inside your head every day. Why make it not a nice place to be?
Olivia: Exactly. You can't hate yourself into changing. I tried that with my eating disorder. I tried it with my skin. It doesn't work. It just makes everything worse. So it is crazy the power of positive self-talk.
Rachael: What’s one of the most surprising or unexpected aspects of living with acne? How did it change your perspective on skincare and beauty in general?
Olivia: That’s a good question. For me, one of the most surprising aspects was how much of an expert everybody else thinks they are.
Olivia: The unsolicited advice, as I mentioned before, when I was having my makeup done and things, I would get unsolicited advice on what I should be doing with my skin. But it was also strangers on the street and then people online more recently, in more recent years, being on social media. Anytime I posted anything where you could see a glimpse of my acne, every Tom, Dick and Harry would tell me, oh, you've got to try this, you've got to try this, you've got to try this. That to me was so surprising because I just don't think that I would ever give someone advice on a medical condition.
Rachael: It is a medical condition.
Olivia: Yeah. Without being qualified for one. And also, if they're not asking. People say to me, and people ask me all the time, what do you use for your skin? Or how did you get your skin better? And then I will answer. I also think it's different when I've been through it, I’m sharing tbh products because people come to my page looking for that sort of thing.
But when I'm just putting up a photo of my skin and I'm not saying, can you please give me recommendations, but they flood my inbox, it baffles me. It still baffles me. And if I tried everything that they were suggesting, I probably wouldn't be here. I think I would have died. There was some really rogue recommendations, but I think that's been the most surprising thing.
Rachael: Wow. Just everyone having an opinion as well. That's a lot to take on board. Especially when you talk about the feeling like you're doing something wrong and it must be something you're doing. Then you've got people adding on to that layer of have you tried this? Have you tried this? It's so stressful.
Olivia: Even the other day, I posted something about my skin journey and how far it's come, and I was posting a throwback of what my skin used to look like. I had this guy who's a doctor, he said “Hun, have you tried Roaccutane? Vitamin A? And I was like, Sweetie, yes. I've tried it twice and also, these are old photos.” Like, are you not reading? Please read. Please take it all in.
Rachael: Sorry. Why am I not surprised?
Olivia: Does my head in.
Rachael: So, you talked about positive self-talk really helping you. Is there any other self-care practice or things that you do that you find really have an impact on your mental state and how you're able to deal with things like breakouts or your body image?
Olivia: I think having a holistic overall approach to self-care really helps. Not fixating on one part. So, for me, a big part of my recovery and my journey with my body and my skin has been learning to take care of myself and not punish myself. So, instead of exercising to burn off calories or to lose weight, I exercise because it makes me feel good mentally. I set myself goals that are challenges that I want to run a half marathon rather than I want to fit into these jeans. Changing your goals so that they're not toxic and so they are beneficial and you can accomplish them, and you don't make yourself feel bad in the process. So, there's that and there's also listening to my body. So not forcing myself to exercise every day. I think resting is just as important as exercising. Eating nourishing foods. A big thing for me has been not viewing foods as bad and good. Food is fuel and I eat intuitively. I eat what I feel like eating. I don't restrict myself of anything because I don't want to fall back into old habits and I think that just applies to everything that I do. I just try and find a real balance in life and try not to be hard on myself. It's really just giving yourself a bit of grace and being kind to yourself and your body and your skin. And taking care of myself and taking care of my skin rather than punishing it has really, really helped me.
Rachael: It’s a total reframe of I’m not trying to fix all these things about me. They don't need fixing. I just want to be happy and comfortable. That's the goal.
Olivia: The goal is to feel good. 100%. Taking the focus off. It's hard in the world that I work in and the world that we live in to not focus on how you look. What I do is very appearance focused a lot of the time, so it can be hard, but I have to shift it away from that because otherwise you just get too obsessed. So, I really try to focus on how I'm feeling rather than how I'm looking.
Rachael: Yeah, I love it. What is your advice to people on how they can potentially take small steps to feel more comfortable in their skin?
Olivia: I think a big one is to follow the right people on social media and really be conscious of how you're feeling when you're on socials. So, if there are particular people or particular images that trigger you and make you feel uncomfortable when you're looking at your phone, mute them or unfollow them. Notice it. I don't think you'll always notice because you're scrolling so quickly and you might not know what it is exactly that makes you feel icky. And then you get off your phone and you're feeling a bit funny. So, try and be more present when you're doing it so that you can notice that and change it. I think it's like any environment that you're in. At home, you make your room a safe, comfortable space. You should be doing that on social media as well. My advice is not to get off social media because I just think that's impossible in this day and age. It's to make it like a safe place to be. So, follow more skin positive accounts and body positive accounts and things that make you feel good, because that's going to stop the comparison. Comparison is just the worst thing and it's almost impossible to avoid with social media. But if you can try your best to curate your feed in a way that makes you feel better about yourself, then that definitely helps. I follow a lot of positive accounts, acne positive accounts and I think they're amazing. Even now that my skin is better, I still find them so helpful. Pages with positive quotes and just nice content, like beautiful interiors and travel pages and that sort of thing, rather than just, unattainable, edited, beautiful people that don't make you feel good.
Rachael: It's actually a very good point because I think I've noticed myself on social media, get off my phone and then be cranky out of nowhere, and I'm like, “Why am I bothered by something all of a sudden?” And then you're like no, I probably need to just cleanse my feed a bit.
Olivia: Yes, cleanse the feed.
Rachael: If you could go back to your 16 year old, or let's say your 14 year old self when she was there, having a bit of an identity crisis, starting to suffer with acne for the first time, what is the one piece of advice you'd give her? What's the one thing you would say to her?
Olivia: I'd give her a big hug. It’s going to make me teary.
Rachael: I'm going to cry.
Olivia: Yeah. My little sister now being that age and seeing how fragile she is, it makes me think about me at that age. I was so mean to myself, and if I heard Harriet speaking to herself that way, it would upset me so much. This is why I'm crying. It upsets me even just thinking about it. So, I think I would just be really nice to her and say you know, everything's going to be okay and having acne is not the end of the world. My advice would be not to cover it up and not to be ashamed and not to think it's my fault. I think maybe my journey with acne would have been very different if I had approached it that way, but I wasn't to know. You do your best with what you've got at the time.
Rachael: She's lucky to have you now to give her that advice you probably wish you gave your own self.
Olivia: I kind of feel like I get a rerun by being there for my sister in a way whether she likes it or not. But, I just think all girls at that age could do with a lot of big hugs and a bit of compassion.
Rachael: 100%. I could not agree more. What do you think the best compliment you've ever received is?
Olivia: This is hard. I read the questions when you sent them through, and I said to myself, I'll just see what comes out in the moment, because it's a hard one. It definitely would be nothing to do with how I look.
Olivia: In saying that. Anytime someone compliments my skin now, I'm like, thank you tell me again. Because I went so long without anyone ever telling me my skin looked good. So, when they say it, I'm, like, you don't know how much that means to me because my skin was so nasty for a while there. It's always the things that mean the most to me are about my personality. Someone said recently that I was really warm and I felt like a friend even though we'd just met, and I love that. That's so nice. And that means so much more to me. I think people also think that when you're getting compliments all the time, which is sort of the nature of what I do. I also get a lot of negative comments, but people often compliment what I'm wearing or my hair or my makeup or whatever. It doesn't mean that much. And it doesn't mean that much from a stranger.
Rachael: I was about to say it also depends who it's coming from.
Olivia: Yeah, if someone in my family compliments my personality, that means more to me than anything else.
Rachael: That's such a good answer. Final question of the interview is a bit left of field and we're asking everyone today. If we finish this interview, you step outside, you find a lottery ticket that ends up winning you $10 million. What would you do with it?
Olivia: This one's hard. There's so many things I would want to do. I think, first of all, I would love to make everyone in my family financially secure. So, for them that might be paying off a car or it might be paying off their house. I would love to do that for everyone and for myself, obviously. I'd love to buy a holiday house. That would be very nice. Not sure where, but somewhere great and then donate a bit to all the charities that I like working with and that mean a lot to me. Maybe with the leftovers, we buy any young person who's experiencing acne tbh products.
Rachael: Free tbh.
Olivia: Free tbh. Yes. So, no one has to experience those awful teenage years with acne.
Rachael: And your full time job can just become hugging.
Olivia: You get tbh. You get tbh. That sounds a little bit creepy. You can have a hug if you like.
Rachael: I love it. Well, that concludes our interview today. Thank you so much. That was beautiful. You shared so many wonderful things with us and I'm sure the listeners will find this hugely helpful.
Olivia: Oh, I hope so. Always nice to chat to you, whether there's a mic or not.
Rachael: Yes, thank you. All right, bye!
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