Olivia: Hello, everyone, and welcome back to Skin Stories, heartfelt conversations, empowering stories, and a touch of laughter brought to you by tbh Skincare. Today we are joined by the wonderful Maddie Edwards. Maddie has dealt with eczema for as long as she can remember, along with frequent bouts of hormonal acne. A trained beauty therapist, her depth of knowledge about skincare, coupled with her openness about her journey with these skin conditions, has garnered her a loyal social following. She describes her mission as trying to force you to love and embrace the skin you're in. And this positive mindset, plus her willingness to give others a window into what it's like living with eczema and acne has led to the formation of a tight knit online community and a place where others can come to find both solace and validation while navigating similar experiences.

It's Maddie's unique personal brand of raw and real authenticity and willingness to share herself that has led to partnerships with major brands such as Mecca, Aveeno, Emma Lewisham, Lancome and Laura Mercier. In today's episode we are excited to have Maddie talk us through her journey, exploring the challenges she has faced, the lessons she has learned, and how she has cultivated such a positive attitude to her skin. I really loved this chat with Maddie. I felt like I could relate to so much of what she has been through as well, and we could have gone on for hours. Maddie shares her wisdom on self-acceptance, navigating societal expectations and how to foster a positive relationship with one's own body.

Hey, Maddie.

Maddie: Hi.

Olivia: Thank you so much for joining me on Skin Stories today. I'm really excited to chat to you.

Maddie: Thank you for having me. I'm excited too.

Olivia: Pleasure. Now, my first question for you is how would your loved ones describe you best in just three words?

Maddie: This is so hard. I would say honest. I would hope that they would say loving and maybe caring. That sounds boring and generic, but they’re the things I hope for.

Olivia: Do you think that you would describe yourself the same way?

Maddie: Probably. And I also think that well, I like to think that I, you know, portray the same way that I feel. So I feel like that's how people would describe me and that's how I feel like I am.

Olivia: I love that. You definitely give off those vibes. 

Maddie: Okay, that's good to know.

Olivia: Now, can you tell us a bit about yourself growing up and what was your childhood like and where did you grow up and what did you see yourself growing up to be?

Maddie: Well, I'm the eldest of five girls, so I've got four younger sisters and we're all really close and I think that definitely shaped me into who I am today in a lot of different ways but it was really, really nice growing up together, mostly a positive experience. We lived with my mom and dad and then my parents separated when I was a little bit older, but that didn't really change anything. All of our relationships are still good. I didn't really ever know what I wanted to be. I think being the eldest of five, I always felt like a bit of a teacher and I enjoyed kind of sharing my experiences and knowledge, and I think that's why I kind ofdid turn to social media. Like YouTube was actually first. I was studying beauty therapy and I wanted to share all the things that I was learning.

So I took to YouTube and I was making like makeup tutorials and skincare videos, really just relaying what I was learning at beauty school and trying to simplify like skincare and you know, if you want to apply eyeshadow, this is the best way. Things like that. And then I went to Instagram when I started to get acne because I don't know, it just felt natural to kind of share my experience. So I didn't really ever think I was gonna be an influencer or a beauty content creator, but I definitely fell into it. I thought I was just gonna be a beauty therapist, which I loved and I still love andI like to think that I will go back in the future. Maybe when I have kids or something like that, I can go back to it and start seeing clients again and do their brows and lashes and help them feel beautiful.

Olivia: Awesome. I love that.

Now today we are here to talk specifically about skin. We all know that our skin is intrinsically linked to our overall wellbeing and our feelings of self-worth. I know your skin is a big part of your story as someone living with eczema and hormonal acne. Can you tell us a bit more about your experience with these conditions and the relationship that you've had with your skin over the years?

Maddie: Hmm. Well, eczema has definitely been a part of my life for as long as I remember. I actually think that's helped because it's always been normal for me. It's not like it just came out of nowhere and I was like, Oh my God, what is this? So for me, it was always normal. When kids would comment on it or something like that when I was growing up, it would just be like... Like kids might ask, “What is that red stuff?” And it's like, “What do you mean? What's that red stuff? It's eczema, ”like, duh.” I wasn't ever hurt by it. I was just like, It's normal. 

With the acne, that kind of came… I dealt with it a couple of times through high school. I feel like that's kind of normal. But then I actually started to get it badly when I was in early adulthood, which was really, really hard because that's when a lot of people are  starting to, you know, their skin’s starting clear up and it's like, Oh my God, what's going on? Why do I look like this? And none of my friends do. You feel like you're meant to be in your peak physically. I'm meant to look a certain way. I'm meant to be my hottest right now. And you definitely do not feel that way. Well, I definitely didn't. But I now have a very different relationship with myself and even my skin and just my whole physical appearance, really, which is great. It's taken some time and some work, but I'm definitely a lot better at dealing with it now when I do flare up or when I do break out.

Olivia: That's awesome. We will definitely touch more on that sort of how you came to that point. But did your skin condition affect your self-esteem or body image and how did you cope with any negative feelings or societal pressures?

Maddie: I think yes, it definitely affected my body image in the way that I felt about myself. The eczema, especially because of the way that it feels. Acne is acne, it's pimples. And it's like, yeah, it's annoying to try to put makeup over and it never looks smooth and stuff like that. But the eczema, it feels so bad and so tight and so sore all the time that you’re like, it’s not just like you're trying to deal with the way that it looks. You're like, Oh my God, every single time I move, I am so uncomfortable. Also there's this thing with eczema where people think that it's contagious. So you feel like you should cover it up. I get it behind my knees and in my elbows and I used to feel really self-conscious to wear skirts or a t-shirt because I thought people would be like, “ew that's gross. Like, what is that rash? Is it contagious?” But then I was sort of like, well, it's not up to me to educate them. If I want to wear a skirt, if it's hot outside or if I just want to wear a skirt, I'm going to do it, you know? I guess I started pushing myself out of my comfort zone and the more that I did that, the more comfortable I got.

My comfort zone just stretched and stretched and stretched. And now it's actually pretty hard. I don't know where the edge of my comfort zone is anymore because I just feel so comfortable in who I am. With acne, I would say I think I was like, oh my God, I've dealt with eczema for all of my life. And I finally felt good about that. And then the acne as a young adult, that hurt because that was also in the time where I'd started my career as a beauty therapist so it was very hard to be taken seriously when my face had pimples all over it. I was trying to recommend people products in my workplace and I could just see their eyes just darting at all the different pimples on my face. It looks like I don't know what I'm talking about, but hormones are hormones, you can only do so much externally. I would say I never really felt enough because of that. I felt like I wasn't taken seriously because of my acne which was definitely the hardest part. I cared more about that than the actual way that it looked. I was like, please just don't see me as my acne. I'm so much more than that.

Olivia: Yeah.

Maddie: It was hard.

Olivia: A bit of imposter syndrome.

Maddie: Yeah, definitely. I felt like just because of the way that I looked like I was put in a box immediately.

Olivia: Yeah, I feel like I had that to an extent as well. When my acne was severe,I felt if I rocked up for a photo shoot, they're not going to know that I'm the model. Or like, they're not gonna know that she's the model. You know the year that I was Miss Universe, I had acne. It would go up and down. But if I was having a flare up and someone saw me or recognised me, I'm like, I'm not Miss Universe today. Like, don't look at me. It just affects how you feel about yourself so much and you want to think that people can look past it but it's really hard to believe that when you're experiencing it.

Maddie: 100%, especially if you yourself struggle to believe it.

Olivia: Yeah, well, I mean, I just think, the experience of having acne is so common and then from the conversations that we've had on this podcast, even though everyone's experience is so different, there are so many common aspects that are across the board. We feel the same way.

Maddie: Oh yeah, definitely.

Olivia: And sad as well.

Maddie: It is sad.

Olivia: It's sad how common it is.

Maddie: Very. 

Olivia: What are some memorable reactions or comments from others that you've had about your eczema or your acne? It could be either/or and how did you handle those situations?

Maddie: I think honestly, probably the most common one that I even still get today, I'm like, ”really?” is like if you go to the doctors, or any health professional for that matter, like you know I went to the doctors to get a skin check for my moles just to see if everything's all good… and she said, 'oh, and your face, you should see your GP, you can get Roaccutane if you want”. I had like three pimples. I was like, “what?”. So I think now I just laugh because it's kind of funny. It's like, are you serious? And also to just say, go on Roaccutane as if it's nothing like, what do you mean? That is full on.  

Olivia: That is some hardcore medication to take.

Maddie: Exactly.

Olivia: Rolled around like it's no big deal.

Maddie: Yeah, so a lot of the comments come from health professionals and I know it's because they want to help, you know they're like, surely you want this gone. From people in my everyday life I don't really get comments I get looks definitely because people are probably just trying to be like, what is this? Especially about my eczema. I can see them looking at this bright red patch on my skin, which it's like, yeah, fair. Sometimes I look as well if I see someone else with it. And it's also not always looking in the way like, ew, that's gross. It's never that for me. It's always like, oh yeah, cool this person's going through something similar to me and they're wearing a t-shirt. It makes me feel confident to wear a t-shirt as well.

Social media… definitely you get some ugly comments. Never really from my own audience. My following is just so beautiful and I am so lucky. It's amazing. I am so thankful every day. But if a brand posts or reposts some of my content, the comments can be really hideous. Everyone assumes that you don't eat healthy and you don't drink enough water or you don't wash your face. They're the top three things. It’s like guys, there's so much more to it than that. So definitely, people think that you're dirty and they'll say that, so that's annoying but I just don't reply because I'm like am I meant to care what this faceless idiot on social media is saying because I do not. That's embarrassing, for you not me doll.

Olivia: Yeah, I think with that too, something I've experienced a lot is unsolicited advice on what I should be taking and I mean like Roaccutane. People feel the need to recommend all sorts of things. The most random remedies from putting toothpaste on your pimples to drinking oil like someone told me to drink olive oil straight. That would cure it. I’m like okay.

Maddie: I know, you get the weirdest things.

Olivia: Do you get many of those?

Maddie: I do like literally every day, multiple. And the best way that I deal with it now and it's so easy is like everyone just wants to help you.

Olivia: Yeah.

Maddie: Some people really have a problem with delivery. And, I didn't ask. Like we didn't ask you. You didn't ask. You know, just because you can see what I'm going through, at the end of the day, it's a condition and it's personal. Just because it's on my face and you can see it, it doesn't invite you to say whatever you want. It doesn't mean that I'm out here asking you, what do you think I should do? Because, you know, one thing will work for you and it might not work for me. That's another thing. Everybody has their own things that's worked for them. But imagine if we tried every single thing that they recommend. It's actually impossible. Like, I can't.

Olivia: I actually don't know if I would be alive.

Maddie: Like your body would go into shock.

Olivia: Yeah. 

Maddie: Like after one day. Yeah. Seriously. Like all the diet changes they say. Some people will be like, all you have to do is cut out sugar, dairy and gluten. And then the next post will be like, cut out veggies all you’re meant to do is eat a keto diet. It's like, okay, if I put those two together. 

Olivia: You should only eat bread. It's like, yeah. So you probably do all of the things that they're recommending.

Maddie: Exactly. It's impossible. But at the end of the day, you just gotta laugh and in your head know that majority of people are actually just trying to help. They just, I don't know... social media is weird, everyone's trying to find where the line is, I guess.

Olivia: Definitely. It's a weird space. And I think even when you do know that and you know that people are trying to be helpful, it's like, please, just like, shut up. Yeah, you can share. But please, if I haven’t asked, just keep it to yourself.


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 Reach Out 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.


Olivia: On treatments, I'm sure you've tried all sorts of things over the years, you know, with guidance of health professionals and whatnot. I would love to know if you have tried Roaccutane before, because I have personally and I know it dried me out so much. I can only imagine having something like eczema at the same time. Is that something that you have been able to try? 

Maddie: I don't know. I've never wanted to go on Roaccutane just because of the mental health side effects that I've heard that it can have. And I was like, oh, like it's just not worth it for me.

Olivia: Yeah.

Maddie: But I understand that for some people it is an absolute last resort and you have to do it. It's a personal choice. But I actually don't know if I could have done it anyway because of the eczema. I don't think that my body could have handled that. Obviously, sometimes my eczema is fine, but when a flare up is happening, my skin’s so tight that I can't even get out of bed, behind my knees is so tight and my face it's just the worst feeling. So, I don't actually think somebody with eczema would be able to do Roaccutane. Maybe like a light dose. But yeah, no, I never tried it, but I don't want to say don't do it. Just listen…

Olivia: Yeah.

Maddie: Listen to your doctor. I guess maybe too.

Olivia: I've had two courses of Roaccutane over the years.

Maddie: Yeah.

Olivia: You know, both times they told me that acne would never come back after. And it did.

Maddie: Really?

Olivia: For some people it doesn't. So yeah it’s a personal journey. I think this is why it is dangerous to give unsolicited advice because what works for one person is not necessarily going to work for someone else.

Maddie: 100%. Yeah. You have to know who to trust, that's for sure.

Olivia: Yeah. Have you found something now for your eczema that you feel is working for you and something consistent? Or are you still sort of changing or is it still a bit of a journey.

Maddie: It’s definitely still a bit of a journey. I literally just, well last month, finished the worst flare up I've ever had in my whole life and I don't know what caused it. So for me, I'm at the point where I'm just canceling things out. I'm like, Do I have leaky gut? Do I have a fungal infection? What is it exactly? Am I allergic to anything that's in my life every day? So it's just like a bit of a process of elimination. But I also know that I will have it for the rest of my life and it's just more about managing it and learning to ride the waves and remembering that when I am flaring up it will get better and then it will get worse again and it'll get better.

You know, just don't get addicted to when your skin's good and don't get so, so, so down when your skin is bad. I just have products to manage it, you know, there are certain products that I will never, ever go without and certain habits that I will never, ever go without. I could never not moisturise my body morning and night. I notice in half a day if I've used a different moisturiser to what I normally do. So, it's more about managing it, really. I don't know if I'll ever find what causes it. It could be so many things, which is annoying, but it's okay. I'm fully okay with it, which is good.

Olivia: I think sometimes you can drive yourself crazy trying to pinpoint exactly what it is when it comes to stuff like that.

Maddie: 100%. You're better off just accepting it sometimes.

Olivia: Yeah. So, what role do you think self-care has played in your journey with your skin and your overall body image? Are there any particular self-care practices or rituals that you find helpful?

Maddie: Like a huge, huge role, just for the mental health aspect. Just moving your body. It kind of reminds me that I'm still in charge. I can't control what's going on with my skin, but I can control how I act when my skin is playing up and where I can still make a positive impact on my body. So yeah definitely like light exercise a lot of the time I don't really like doing anything too crazy. 

I just go for walks and listen to like positive self-talk podcasts a lot of the time because sometimes faking it till you make it is a really great tip. If I'm feeling really down in the dumps and even just the thought of hearing someone do motivational speaking makes me gag because I'm so depressed. I'm like, shut up. Like, I do not want to hear that. Seriously, that's the time when I need it the most. I will force myself to listen to like a 15 minute podcast talking about motivation or something like that. It really, really switches your mindset, especially if you're like walking when you're doing it because you're just like, yes, this is me time.

And then just like I was saying before, habits. It's so interesting but the whole moisturising my body morning and night thing, it's something that yeah I have to do because otherwise my skin will be too tight. But it's also such a self-love ritual to me now. I’m almost like, it's so intentional. When I'm moisturising my body, I almost feel thankful and grateful for my body and thank you for taking me through every day and allowing me to do the things that I do.

I'm just so grateful for my skin now. I used to feel like it was such a chore to moisturise my body morning and night. And now I'm like, yay, now I've got my little five minute after my shower, moisturise my body ritual, self-love kind of thing. It's really, really funny what habits can do and what they can turn into without you even trying or noticing.

Olivia: I don't do that enough and you're really selling it to me.

Maddie: Yeah.

Olivia: Well, time to moisturise my body.

Maddie: Moisturising or even just dry body brushing, like something. We do so much for our face, which is great. But our bodies take us through our entire day, like our little legs just walking us everywhere, every day. Like it's like, oh, love my precious skin. 

Olivia: Yeah, like a hug.

Maddie: Yeah, it is. It's literally like a hug. It's really nice.

Olivia: I love that. Now this is just a bit rogue but I'm interested because for me, you know, experiencing acne, I felt quite alone because there were, there were kids at school that had it as well, but no one really within my circle experienced it like I did, and probably not into adulthood like I did. My sister had amazing skin and it was really annoying. I mean, lucky her, you know, I'm happy for you. But I was also like...

Maddie: I'm so happy for you. 

Olivia: As one of five girls, did your other sisters experience acne or eczema or both or neither? How did that make you feel?

Maddie: My sister Emily actually always had worse eczema than me as a kid, and she's the one who's just a year younger than me. I always felt sorry for her but at the same time, like I said, it was like normal for us. So it was like, yeah, whatever. If anyone ever commented, I was like, yeah, my sister's got eczema, shut up.

Jessie, the middle one, is like, she has just breezed through life without any skin problems. And I'm like, I hate you. I'll tell you what the weirdest thing is. She won't care but she wears the fullest coverage foundation, she's really insecure about her skin. And I'm like, what the hell? Like. How? Why? But it just shows it's not really about what you look like on the outside. It's the way you feel on the inside, which is really interesting because Emily, the one who I was just talking about who used to have worse eczema than me, she does not care. She does not wear makeup. And if she does, it's just fully for fun, like she loves it. So that's pretty interesting. It's almost like what you go through makes you stronger. Well, it does. Yeah. It's cliche, but it's not. 

Olivia: I think when you've had a challenge with your skin, it does force you to accept parts about yourself that you might not have had to otherwise.

Maddie: Absolutely. Spot on. Yeah, that's exactly it. And then Charlotte is the second youngest. She's got eczema and now she's getting acne. She's the only one who also gets acne and she's trying to get into modelling herself. She's so stunning and so tall. But I'm just so proud of her because she handles it in a way that I didn't. It sounds like that you struggle too as well. She fully has accepted it. She doesn't really compare herself to anyone. She knows who she is and she knows she's beautiful, whether she's got acne or not. She's 18 and I'm just like, wow, and she goes to beauty school as well. All of her friends have beautiful skin. Well all skin’s beautiful but unblemished skin. And she is still like, yeah, I'm going to be a model. I'm just like, wow, I'm amazed. And then the younger sister, she doesn't have anything wrong with her skin yet either. We'll see. She's only 16. 

Olivia: Okay, and what's her name? You all have such beautiful names. I need to know the fifth one.

Maddie: Her name's Annalise, but we call her Annie.

Olivia: You have such nice names.

Maddie: Really? I feel like they’re really boring.

Olivia: No, they’re so nice.

Maddie: That's funny. 

Olivia: I think there would be something to be said about what you do in the amazing work that you do and why your sister is as confident as she is.

Maddie: I pray like.

Olivia: She’s got a great role model in you.

Maddie: Thank you. That is really my dream. I just hope that I can even help just one young person feel comfortable in who they are or just a little bit better than they would if they didn't see my page. 

Olivia: You know, I’m pretty confident in saying that you've definitely done that.

Maddie: It's a really nice feeling.

Olivia: You helped me, I think your page is amazing and the work that you do. 

Maddie: I love yours. You do the same for me.

Olivia: Thank you. That's so nice. It’s crazy how much just seeing somebody else's skin unfiltered without makeup with a breakout just helps you so much.

Maddie: It is crazy. Like, for me, the first person I really saw who shared herself without any filters or makeup was Chloe Szep. I was like, whoa. And she was a pretty big well, she still is, but she's more of a businesswoman now. But yeah, when she was fully in her influencing career and it wasn't even like, look at my skin, this is who I am. It was really casual. She just kind of showed up and I think you know, she was just doing a makeup routine but it was unfiltered, which was something I hadn't seen before. I was like, oh my God, if this beautiful woman that I look up to can show herself, maybe I can too. It's crazy what just seeing one person can do for your self-confidence. 

Olivia: And also, I think when you do it for yourself, it becomes easier as well. The more you see yourself unfiltered. The easier it is to continue to do that.

Maddie: Oh, yeah.  

Olivia: I got in a really bad phase a few years ago where on my stories, I wasn't posting on my feed with these filters, but on my stories, I think it was when filters first came out onto Instagram and everyone was using them, you know, they make you a little bit more tanned or like a little bit more grainy or something. If I had a breakout, I was like, oh, perfect, I'll just put this on.

Maddie: Yeah.

Olivia: Then I got to a point where I couldn't see myself without it. If my skin came up and it was raw. I was like, ew.

Maddie: Oh yeah, they're so dangerous. And it gets like that in real life. You look in the mirror and you're like, oh, what's this? You don't even recognise yourself anymore because you're so used to seeing the filtered version of yourself. It's like you're trying to live up to something that doesn't even exist.

Olivia: It's so crazy because I think when I see unfiltered skin on Instagram, it's my favourite. Like I see it and I'm like, oh, that's so beautiful and refreshing. I love it. 

Maddie: Yeah.

Olivia: I know a lot of beautiful people who always use filters. And I'm like, I know what you look like and I think you look better without it. 

Maddie: Yes.

Olivia: I wish you could check them.

Maddie: Confidence, it sounds so ugh, but confidence is so beautiful. It is just such a stand out thing about somebody. It will take you further in life the way you look, that's for sure.

Olivia: Absolutely. Oh, I feel like we could talk for hours.

Maddie: Same.

Olivia: You mentioned feeling self-conscious about your skin in the past. How did you go from being in that place mentally with your skin to where you are now?

Maddie: I think it's exactly what we were just talking about. I made a proper decision that I didn't want to hide who I was or what I was going through anymore. Because being in the beauty industry and working in clinic, I had to wear makeup for my job, which is pretty normal being a beauty therapist, just because you want to look well presented. But my foundation was getting thicker and thicker and thicker because I had these blemishes that I felt like I had to cover and I felt like were ugly. I just got addicted to it and I hated the way that I looked without makeup. And I had no self-worth. I was just like, ew, this girl without makeup is so gross and she's so shy and I didn't even recognise myself without makeup, even though that's actually me. I should recognise myself. I just got really freaked out by that. I got tired of kind of pretending to be someone that I wasn't.

So I made a conscious decision to peel back on the makeup and not wear it when I was at home, just small steps like that. Then I would just stretch it out and, you know, okay, maybe I won't wear makeup at the shops this time. And then the craziest thing. I mean it's not crazy. But for somebody who used to feel as self-conscious as I did and it feels crazy like I went to a festival once without makeup on when I had acne. That was such a big step for me. But so many people that I’ll be meeting and you know, everyone looks hot at festivals and I was feeling very vulnerable in that moment. But after that, I was like, whoa, I can do anything now. I'm confident in my skin. I would make sure to never use filters and I would also make sure to never blur my skin because I'm the opposite to you. I didn't actually ever use filters on stories, but when I was posting makeup photos to the feed and stuff like that on Instagram, I would always blur my pimples out like always. Because it was for two reasons. One reason was because I thought it looked ugly and it made my makeup look bad. But the second reason was because I knew, I think even just a few years later now we're so much further ahead than we were. But at that time, I knew I wasn't going to get reposted by any brands, if I had blemishes in the photos. Yeah, like no chance.

Olivia: That's so sad when you think about it, but great. I mean, great that we have come a long way I think.

Maddie: Seriously, in a short time we actually have come a pretty long way.

Olivia: I think it's because of the work that you're doing and people like you

Maddie: Maybe. And then there's also like just the virtue signaling thing. It's almost a trend now to have acne, like a brand will be like, Oh yes, this girl's got acne. It'll make us look really progressive. But oh, well.

Olivia: If you're having a moment where you're feeling down about your skin or your image in general, how do you get yourself out of that funk?

Maddie: I acknowledge it. I'm like, Oh, I'm having a bit of an off day. And then honestly, I just get on with it. I just remember how much more I am than the way that I look. Not just me, but I'm just going to use myself [in this example]. I bring so much more to the table than what I look like. The way that we look is the least interesting thing about us. I just remember that. It's ingrained in my brain now. It's helped me so much with relationships and just being a better person in general, because I remember that as well now when I look at other people. I feel like people have this shell and it's actually just pure luck what you're born into. So I just remember that. I used to feel so intimidated if I would see a really beautiful girl with perfect skin. I'd be like, oh my God. Like, she's so beautiful. I hope she doesn't look at me and stuff like that. I'd actually look down. I'd feel so less than and insecure. But now I don't even feel 1% of that. I feel like I belong everywhere and everyone is equal, you know? So, I just really, really don't let my skin control the way that I feel or the things that I do to the best of my ability. Like I still have off days, but they don't take over anymore.

Olivia: So maybe like off moments rather than off days.

Maddie: Yeah, just little off moments. You look in the mirror and you're a bit like, oh my God. Or you wake up with a few breakouts, you're like, oh, why? But then that's it. I'll put a zit sticker on or I will actually switch it up and I will remember if I go out today and a young girl with acne sees me going out rocking this new forehead that I'm growing, she might feel inspired or comfortable, you know. Even just going to the shops and doing the absolute bare minimum and existing you can still impact somebody if you just show up as yourself.

Olivia: Definitely. That's such a good attitude. I love that.

Maddie: Thanks.

Olivia: What is your advice to people as to how they can take small steps to being more comfortable in their skin?

Maddie: Probably… I would say positive affirmations to yourself. Sort of like what I was just saying. Tell yourself in the mirror what you are. Are you funny? Do you make people laugh or are you smart? What are you besides the way that you look, tell yourself. Even like, you might only be able to find one thing in the beginning because sometimes when your skin is bad, you're just so full of self-loathing, which is really sad and it feels almost impossible to find a single thing that you like about yourself. But just imagine. What would your mum say about you or something? What does someone who loves you, what would they say about you and start there. So definitely positive self-talk because that just helps shift your brain so much and try to do that every time you look in the mirror. Don't leave. Don't walk away from the mirror feeling negative. Do your best to leave the mirror feeling positive.

And then I would say, I would just use my own experience as a guide, I guess, try to stretch out your comfort zone. Start with baby steps. Don't wear makeup on one day at home or start wearing a little bit of a lighter coverage foundation just so that you start to fall in love with the way that you look without makeup just as much as you do with.

That's all I can really say. And maybe just treat yourself the way that you would treat a friend. You’re not going to tell your friend, oh my God, you've got so many breakouts today. You're so ugly, you're worth nothing. Everybody hates you. So why would you say that to yourself? Because you literally spend 24 hours every single day with your own brain. So do not do that to yourself. It's just not nice. It's actually nasty to yourself. Don't do it.

Olivia: And it doesn't change anything.

Maddie: No, Exactly. Exactly. It's like a downward spiral for yourself.

Olivia: What is the best compliment that you have ever received?

Maddie: Definitely… only from people that I love. Compliments are always nice, but I don't give them too much weight if they're from somebody that I don't know. Just because it's kind of like that with something that's not a compliment. Like if they're saying something mean, it's sort of like, why would I care? I don't even know you. Obviously, a compliment is always nice, but from a stranger, I keep things light.

My friend Dylan once said to me, he's somebody that I've always looked up to. He is a wheelchair athlete, so he's a motivational speaker. He is just someone so inspirational to me. I've always looked up to him. He once said to me, I absolutely love what you're doing on your Instagram, you're helping so many people and it's really nice to see somebody show up as their authentic self. That's exactly what he does on his Instagram and what he's pretty much dedicated his entire life to. So, to hear kind of one of my idols and friends say that about my work that I do every day. It's honestly not just my work, like me and my work are, which I feel like it's the same as you, it's joint. I am my work, and my work is me.

Olivia: You’re one and the same, yeah.

Maddie: So, I was just like, oh my god. Like, I thought about that compliment for three days. I was like, That is so nice. It just means a lot when it comes from somebody that you care about or that you even idolise and you're like, cool. It's awesome to see that what I'm putting out there is actually coming across the way I wanted.

Olivia: Resonating.

Maddie: Yeah. Resonating. Yeah, I'd say that.

Olivia: That's so cool.

Maddie: It actually is. 

Olivia: Yeah, I would be so flattered by that. 

Maddie: I was. 

Olivia: He's right.

Maddie: Thank you.

Olivia: Definitely. If you could go back and give your 16 year old self one piece of advice, what would it be? 

Maddie: Probably to just be nicer to myself. I think probably every single thought I had about myself was negative. I think that's really, really common for a 16 year old person. You don't really know who you are yet and you're just not nice to yourself and usually very insecure and wondering if people like you. So, I would say just be yourself and be nice to yourself. That's all I can really say. Honestly, I could say so many things, but I don't want it to get too dark and I also don't want it to be fluffy so I'll leave it at that. I think that's a happy medium.

Olivia: Yes. That's really good advice.

Maddie: Yeah.

Olivia: I think maybe we had a similar experience. I was very mean to myself.

Maddie: Yeah, it's really sad to think about it.

Olivia: It is. But it's nice that you have younger sisters. I feel like because I have a sister who is 14 almost 15 and in a sense it feels like you can give that advice that you want to give to your younger self, to your younger sister.

Maddie: Yeah.

Olivia: It’s almost a chance to be like, Don't be mean to yourself like I was to myself.

Maddie: It really is. It's quite beautiful. It's kind of like the butterfly effect. It's like, oh, this is what I could have been if I had someone to look up to or, you know. It's nice.

Olivia: I'm lucky to have you.

Maddie: Yes.

Olivia: Now our final one. A bit of a fun one. We finish this interview and if you were actually here in the studio and you step outside and you find a lottery ticket that ends up winning you $10 million, what would you do?

Maddie: Oh, my god. 10 million. That is so much. I'll definitely buy a house because I just want that off my brain. I want a house. I'd go on a holiday with my family like a big fat one. I'd probably buy, give my sister's all like a million or something to buy their own house. And then I would want to donate money to maybe the Smith family, UNICEF, Strong Hearts Cats, which on Instagram, they're just like this cat saviour little place that's so cute. Makes me cry every day. And then that would probably be it, right? I'd probably just give to my family, make sure they're okay, go on a holiday and do some donating.

Olivia: Amazing.

Maddie: And hopefully turn it into more like maybe with the house, then I can do some development and sell it and then keep going like that because I wouldn't want the 10 million to just go and then disappear. Hopefully it'll turn into more.

Olivia: Yeah, definitely. Yeah. Love that. That was a great answer. It's been so nice chatting to you, Maddy. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast and it was really nice. 

Maddie: Thank you for having me. It was really nice. Thanks for having me.

Olivia: Pleasure. Thank you.


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