Bekah Martinez cares about several things — her daughter, Ruth; her friends and family; her skin; a breathable foundation; and, in an ideal world where money is no longer a concern, "a really, really good facial steamer." Caring about what you, me, and a bunch of internet strangers think of her used to rank high on that list, but not anymore. Once flooding her feeds with perfectly posed images and Bachelor hot takes, Martinez is now focused on spreading acne positivity and shattering the notion that she has it all together.
The 24-year-old came in hot on Arie Luyendyk Jr.'s season of The Bachelor as one of the youngest contestants (she was 22 on the show) in the franchise's history. A fan favorite for her fiery personality and playful relatability, she quickly rose in popularity among Bachelor nation, making it all the way to the final five before a riff with contestant Tia Booth over Martinez's age resulted in Luyendyk eliminating her. But Martinez didn't drift quietly into forgotten Bachelor oblivion like many contestants do. With a handful of Instagram partnerships here and there, Martinez milked her newfound fame to her benefit, thanks in large part to a devoted fanbase who followed her for Bachelor updates and stayed for her biting comebacks to haters and controversy.
"Coming off of that [The Bachelor] experience, I was very easily triggered by people's comments, and any sort of criticism or scrutiny that I felt was unfair or any kind of rude comment would throw me into a tantrum."
Although you won't read a lengthy Instagram Story response to her critics very often now, Martinez admits the sudden scrutinization of every word, picture, and move as a result of instant fame got to her. "It was a really big adjustment and a really big growing and learning experience," she tells me over the phone. "Coming off of that [The Bachelor] experience, I was very easily triggered by people's comments, and any sort of criticism or scrutiny that I felt was unfair or any kind of rude comment would throw me into a tantrum. And sometimes, I would even show that online, and it would be, you know, long rants about how much people suck and all this kind of thing."
The effects of the public's scrutiny permeated Martinez's self-image and her perception of what was "beautiful," especially because her popularity was largely contingent upon her social media presence — where the underlying dangers of comparing yourself to other people rear their ugly heads. "I did feel a lot of pressure to have whiter teeth, to have clear skin, to have better eyebrows — just all of these things," she says. "I started spending so much more time on the internet and comparing myself to other people with large followings or just other people in general."
Despite the pressure to look perfectly put together on social media, Martinez is known for pulling back the curtain on one major aspect of her life: her relationship with her skin. Even at the height of her post-Bachelor fame, Martinez wasn't shy about sharing her experience with severe cystic acne, which she says she's dealt with for a long time, and how much of a toll it has taken on her self-esteem. "When I was in college, it was actually a time when my skin was at its worst," she says. "I didn't want to date people, and I didn't want to try to make new friends because I felt like people were only seeing my skin and my outward appearance. And it just really took a toll on my mental health. It was awful for me."
"I remember seeing Kendall Jenner on the red carpet, and you could see her acne from underneath her makeup, and I remember the horrible things people were saying about her."
"Something I don't see a lot [on social media] is acne positivity and skin positivity. [Acne is] something that I think people still really feel ashamed of, and it's something that people still even get bullied for," she says. So now, by periodically sharing images of her acne and sharing the trials and tribulations of treating it — what products or regimens worked, what didn't, and everything in between — Martinez hopes to encourage people to embrace their skin the way it is.
"I remember seeing Kendall Jenner on the red carpet, and you could see her acne from underneath her makeup, and I remember the horrible things people were saying about her. I just feel like, when my acne was at its worst, I felt that I was the only one in the world going through it."
Part of Martinez being open about her relationship with her skin involved talking about what she was putting on her skin, which makes her recent partnership with BECCA Cosmetics all the more fitting. On Instagram, she shares everything — that makeup was her "happy place" during her worst bouts with acne, and that she can craft a damn good beat with a glowing complexion. Her beauty expertise has even served as the catalyst for some of her Bachelor friendships. "I broke off chunks of my highlighter and gave it to some of the other girls in little plastic baggies," she says. "I sent people home with some beauty stuff because everyone would always be asking to borrow my highlighter."
As open as she is, Martinez adds that wearing a lot of makeup also came with a certain amount of guilt. "I would go out and I would want to feel confident in showing my face [off] wherever I was," she says. "And so I just put on my foundation, but then I’d feel bad because I would feel like I was doing a disservice to my skin and making it even worse."
When it comes to products, Martinez now prefers lightweight products, especially foundations, that boast the look and feeling of "not wearing anything," which is what led to her decision to partner with BECCA, whose products she's used for quite some time. "I started trying out this foundation [BECCA's Ultimate Coverage 24-Hour Foundation] and it's just everything you need in a full-coverage foundation," she says. "It's non-acnegenic, so it doesn't clog pores at all ... it's kind of the best of both worlds."
She says talking about her makeup preferences, her skincare, and the regimens she's adopted to treat her acne is to ensure that those who follow her don't fall into the same trap of comparing themselves to images on social media that may not even be real. "Things are not always as they appear because we're in the age of FaceTune and all of that," she says. "So you really can't compare yourself to the images you see online." If someone feels insecure because of the way their skin looks, Martinez wants her openness and honesty on Instagram to nip that in the bud. "I just wanted to share my own journey and my own struggles with [acne] with my followers, because ... I want people to know they're not alone," she says.
As far as pretending she has it all together — on TV, on social media, and especially when it comes to her skin — goes, Martinez is done with all that. She no longer needs, or wants, the unanimous approval of people she doesn't know to be happy or stay relevant. Her authenticity gives her power — her Instagram presence is the proof.