April 2019

Intrusive questions about your skin condition

One of the biggest hurdles with having a visible skin condition like rosacea is the reactions of others. Over the past 14 years I have heard all of the typical comments: ‘are you sunburned?’, ‘are you embarrassed?’, ‘are you drunk?’ When I was younger, comments like these would be enough to have me running for the bathroom to check my skin and feeling self-conscious for the rest of the day. But over time I’ve tried to reframe the way that I respond to hurtful questions.

The biggest turning point for me was realising that these comments rarely come from a malicious place. We’ve all made a thoughtless remark and then wanted to hide under a bush when we realise that we’ve offended someone (I still lie awake thinking about the time I asked a woman when her baby was due only to find it had already been born, 18 months previously…) Although rosacea is a common condition, it’s still underrepresented in the media and so it’s understandable that the general public are clueless in spotting symptoms. April is Global Rosacea Awareness Month and every month I use this opportunity to talk about it as much as possible – not just to help fellow sufferers, but to educate and inform the wider population as well.

Tips on how to respond to comments about your skin

So here are my tips on how to respond or react to people commenting on your skin:

  • I now see every comment as a great way to spread awareness and prevent the same joke or remark being made to someone who is less secure or newer in their rosacea journey. You don’t have to make a big deal about it, or come prepared with a PowerPoint presentation of rosacea information: just tell them about your skin and briefly explain it. E.g. “I have rosacea, it’s an incurable skin condition that means I’m often red/have bumps/have to avoid certain situations and triggers.”

  • Just because someone says something it doesn’t mean it’s true. In the past, someone has said ‘oh wow you’re so red!’ and when I’ve checked my reflection in a mirror I’ve thought ‘…this? This is nothing!’ You can’t stop people having opinions, but you can stop their opinions impacting how you feel about yourself.

  • The comments often say more about them than they do about you. I often find that people who judge others in this way are incredibly insecure themselves. Instead of taking on their negativity and internalising it, I try to think about why they are saying these things. It could just be a bad day, or a stressful period in their life, or maybe they just wish they have the confidence you have to carry on living your best life with your skin condition.

  • And lastly, I tend to view my rosacea as a great way to identify the people worth knowing. The people I trust to see my without make up are incredibly supportive and always make me feel comfortable in my skin. Anyone who is unkind or thoughtless in their comments to you is not a friend. Your skin is such a small part of who you are and anyone who judges you or tries to make you feel bad about yourself because of it, does not deserve your friendship or love. In the immortal words of Dr Seuss ‘those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind’.

I hope you have found these tips helpful. If you would like more information about rosacea and my journey with it, you can find my blog HERE and my Instagram HERE.

Lex Gillies aka Talonted Lex

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