September 29, 2023

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Instagram: From boy bullied for acne to beauty guru

Scott McGlynn was bullied as a child for his acneImage copyright
Scott McGlynn

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Scott McGlynn used make-up to hide his acne while he was at school

Social media influencer Scott McGlynn has more than 150,000 Instagram followers and can earn £6,000 for his beauty and skin care posts.

But as a teenager bullies targeted him for his acne, dubbing him “pizza face”.

His face and back were affected by the condition, which left him lonely and depressed.

Now, a clinical psychology expert has called for more specialist training for healthcare professionals with “centres of excellence” in Wales.

“It was really bad, I had it all over my back as well,” said Scott, 33. “It went up my forehead and around my face and cheeks.”

The bullying started when he was 12 and Scott, who now has 153,000 Instagram followers, would wear makeup to hide his acne.

“When people would comment on how I looked it would affect my confidence,” he said.

“I would walk with my face looking at the floor, hoping that no-one would say anything. I don’t think the teachers were really trained to deal with situations like that.”

Once a week, pizza would be served as school dinner and Scott “didn’t even want to eat in the dining hall then”.

“There was a stage where I would eat lunch in a classroom with two of my friends.”

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Scott McGlynn

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Scott says the bullies who used to torment him have tried to get in touch with him

He would avoid PE so he did not have to get changed in front of everyone else: “Putting myself in a boys changing room, it was a very vulnerable situation. Why would I do that to myself?”

His acne and the bullying he suffered left him introspective.

“If you met me back then you would not think I would ever do anything on social media,” Scott, from Cardiff, said.

The support of his family helped: “Luckily I didn’t have suicidal thoughts in my head, the only reason is that I had my family there.

“If they were not there I do not know where I would be right now.”

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Scott McGlynn

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Fellow pupils at his school would call him names such as pizza-face

Last year Scott was named a global skincare ambassador for Neutrogena – something he called a “pinch me” moment.

Since the publication of of his memoir Out, and his podcast going top five in the UK iTunes chart, Scott said his former bullies have tried to get in touch.

“I don’t want to know,” he said.

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Science Photo Library

What is acne?

Acne is a common skin condition characterised by blackheads, whiteheads and pus-filled spots.

It usually starts at puberty and varies in severity from a few spots to a more significant problem that may cause scarring.

A degree of acne affects nearly all people between the ages of 15 and 17.

For the majority of sufferers it tends to clear up by the late teens or early 20s, but for some it persists longer.

Andrew Thompson, professor of clinical psychology at Cardiff University and a spokesman for The British Skin Foundation, said: “There is not enough psychological support for people.

“There are psychological services available to the extent there are general services available. They are not going to turn people away.

“But those services are rather stretched and many of the practitioners have not had the training for working around people living with the impact of a skin condition.

“Dermatology services are stretched. Mental health services are stretched. And people with skin conditions fall between the gaps.”

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Andrew Thompson

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Prof Andrew Thompson said there were not enough psychological services for people with skin conditions

He said he wanted more training for healthcare professionals in treating people with skin conditions in psychological distress, with “centres of excellence” in Wales.

“There are some centres in London and Birmingham but as far as I am aware I do not think there are any in Wales.”

Olivia Hughes sits on the committee of Skin Care Cymru, and has suffered from psoriasis since she was seven.

The Swansea University student is writing her dissertation on the emotional impact of her condition and said there was “not a lot in Wales” for people who needed psychological help.

“It is very much something you have got to seek yourself, it is not something that is offered with treatment,” the 24-year-old said.

“The physical aspects of skin conditions are looked at as being more important than the psychological effects, which are seen as secondary.

“But they are just as significant. There should be more of a combined approach.”

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Olivia Hughes

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Olivia Hughes is writing her dissertation on the emotional impact of her psoriasis

To get psychological treatment people have to go through their GP, she said.

She accepted funding may be a “massive issue” but having a specialised service to help people struggling psychologically “would be really valuable”.

Scott agreed services in Wales needed improving: “Absolutely, there should be a centre of excellence.”

The Welsh government confirmed there were no specialised dermatology services in Wales, but there had been a review of services to examine gaps that existed.

A spokesman said: “We expect health boards to put in place services tailored to the individual needs of patients, including any psychological support they might require to help them manage their condition.”

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