Scroll back through Hailey Wait’s Instagram feed, and you’ll soon understand how the 17-year-old has built up a following of over 80,000 fans through the social-media platform. An artist and photographer, Wait shares photo after photo of her work, with oil paintings and pencil sketches of wide-eyed, angelic-looking faces next to ethereal selfies that show her looking a lot like one of her subjects — impossibly smooth, airbrushed skin and all.
Look a little closer, however, and Wait’s doll-like, pastel-tinted aesthetic will give way to something else: a more recent willingness to put her physical “imperfections” and vulnerabilities on display. Over the last few months, Wait has been wearing less and less makeup in her photos, abandoning the perfect-looking skin and letting her acne and redness show through. After she first revealed her makeup-free face in October, the positive feedback that Wait received from followers who found her openness inspiring encouraged her to keep it up.
But it’s one of the Colorado-based teen’s most recent shares that has gone full-on viral: A screenshot from her Twitter that shows two photos of her side-by-side, wearing just lipstick and eye makeup, has racked up over 58,000 likes on Instagram since she posted it over the weekend. “Reminder that acne doesn’t make you ugly,” she wrote alongside the pictures. “A heart full of hate does.”
"I just really want to thank you guys," Wait said in the caption of the post. "Since being more open about my skin imperfections, SO MANY of you have opened up to me about your own struggles and I want to say that I’m truly moved, and incredibly thankful to be supported by so many genuine human beings ... We all have imperfections and we are all capable of greater things beyond our appearances." She hashtagged the photo "#spottybutcute," which just about says it all.
Wait's experience, and the amount of love she's received in response to her opening up, goes to show that something as small as showing your imperfections can make other people feel more confident about themselves and remind them that they aren't alone. The sheer number of seemingly "perfect" celebrities and influencers with their "perfect" skin and "perfect" lives can make you feel insecure, especially when you're young, but it's important that we all remember that it's all just smoke and mirrors — and Instagram filters.