I’m sharing my personal skin condition story, thoughts, and feelings in partnership with Promius Pharma as a paid spokesperson. The story, thoughts, and opinions above are expressly my own. Promius Pharma is not responsible for any other content on this site.
I always enjoy social media challenges because they give me a chance to learn something new about others. This new year began with a #10yearchallenge, allowing people to reflect on who they were 10 years ago. The new thread flooded my Instagram feed with before and after pictures and the majority of people captioning on their physical looks—haircuts, young face, what they dressed like, their make-up, etc. What I failed to see was really any vulnerability in sharing the mental struggles one may have been going through at that time. Whether it was in regards to their weight, getting bullied, losing their job, feeling lost in the world—that’s what I was hoping to see out of this challenge, but did not. So I’ll open up and share with you my #10yearchallenge.
In 2009, I was 17 years old and a junior in high school. I was a straight-A student, captain of the dance team, and friends with everyone in school (no, really). I wouldn’t say I was “popular” in high school, I just simply got along with everyone. People knew me as the joyful, funny, drama-less girl, who knows how to dance.
What they didn’t realize, however, was that I was struggling with severe eczema and that behind my smile was pain, aloneness, and discomfort.
As a teenager, I was more focused on hiding my eczema as best as I could than attempting to understand it and its triggers. At this time, my eczema was uncontrollable. It seemed like I was always flaring up and couldn’t understand why. I had random eczema blotches on my face, arms, and back of my legs. As a result, I would cover myself from head to toe to avoid others from seeing my horrid-looking skin.
At an age when beauty and clear skin is highly emphasized, I was ashamed and insecure about my skin and how I looked compared to my peers. There was no one who looked like me.
Eczema would ruin my plans with my girlfriends all of the time. If they wanted to hang out at someone’s house who had carpet and pets, I couldn’t go. If they wanted to go out during a bad flare-up, I couldn’t go. The worst was when I was already out, unexpectedly flared-up, and had to call it an “early night” so I could rush home and take care of my eczema. I had allowed eczema to determine where I could go and what I could do.
Many of the memories I have from 10 years ago are of me with my dance team. I can remember those moments as if it were yesterday. My eczema was very prevalent on my face and arms. No one knew how uncomfortable I felt in my own skin, how itchy I was underneath my clothes, and how much I wished my eczema was non-existent.
We were a very loud and fun team, always singing and making up dances to different songs. I remember girls always taking photos and videos, and I would try to dodge them as much as I could. I was ashamed and insecure about my skin. If I was caught in front of the camera, I would make funny faces to try and distract viewers from seeing or focusing in on my eczema.
Although I appeared joyful on the outside, I always felt like I couldn’t have as much fun as my peers due to my eczema. In a room full of girls who I knew loved me and looked up to me, I felt alone.
Over the years, I have learned how to embrace my eczema and live my best life alongside it. I am no longer that young girl who hides her eczema from others. I am no longer that young girl who determines what she can do and where she can go based on her eczema. I am no longer that young girl who avoids taking pictures. I am no longer that young girl who feels alone and misunderstood.
Now, I unhide my eczema wherever I go. From wearing shorts and tank tops during a flare, to writing blogs on skin positivity or sharing pictures of my eczema at its worst, I am making it known that I have eczema and I am proud of it!
Advice to Self
If I could go back and give my teenage self advice, I would tell her this:
1.) Open up and share your story
Don’t be ashamed or afraid to tell people about your eczema. The more you share your eczema story, the more others will understand you and what you are going through. Opening up and being vulnerable will support you in feeling comfortable in your own skin. By sharing your story, you will connect with others who are possibly going through the same thing or something similar.
2.) Live your best life WITH eczema
…and not in resistance to it. Do what you most desire to do despite your eczema! Your eczema may force you to believe that you can’t do certain things, wear specific clothing, play certain sports, indulge in adventure, but that is not true. Your eczema does not define who you are and what you are capable of accomplishing. If anything, it enhances your character by teaching you resilience and what it means to overcome physical and mental obstacles. It shows how powerful you are and that you are a true warrior, indeed!
Now it’s your turn! Share your story on social media using #MySkinMatters!And make sure you follow the movement on these social channels: