Unless you’ve been living under a rock you may have heard me mention that April is Rosacea Awareness Month. Of course, I talk about rosacea throughout the year and am very vocal about its impact on my life, self-esteem, and day to day habits. But I always look forward to April rolling around because it is a chance for wider conversations in the media to take place. I believe that if we can improve education and understanding in the general population our lives as sufferers would be positively impacted. Which is why I’m really pleased to be joining forces with Galderma and Beyond The Visible on their #RosaceaNoFilter campaign this year. Read more about this below and find out how you can get involved at the bottom of the post.
*This is a paid collaboration with Galderma.
Last year, Galderma conducted a survey with the BMJ and published the results as part of their Beyond The Visible campaign. This may ring a bell with you because I have referenced the report quite a few times on my blog and social media – not as part of this wider campaign, but just because the results were shocking and the work they are doing is so important.
You can read the full Beyond The Visible report HERE, but the main thing that stood out to me was the clear call to action, the push for the medical community to help sufferers with more than just the physical aspects of the condition. This is why I am so proud to be one of the global ambassadors for this campaign: I have been fighting to raise awareness of the psychological impact of rosacea for years, pointing out how devastating rosacea can be, often resulting in stress, anxiety, and depression.
It can be hard to explain to others that rosacea isn’t ‘just’ blushing. When I’m having a flare up my skin itches and swells, I can feel the blood pulsing across my cheeks, it is so warm it makes me feel light-headed, and it’s impossible to think about anything else. I’m panicking that others are judging me, that someone is going to loudly draw attention to my skin, or make a joke, or stare like I’m contagious… when I should be enjoying a drink with a friend, or focusing on an important meeting at work. One of the stats from the Beyond The Visible report that really resonated with me was that ‘55% of people with rosacea in active employment said their condition had impacted their work productivity’: this means it doesn’t just affect your day-to-day work, but can have a huge impact on your career in general.
1 in 3 people who took part in the Beyond The Visible survey reported a loss of confidence due to their rosacea, using words like ‘low self-esteem’, ’embarrassment’, ‘insecurity’, ‘low confidence’, and ‘shame’. Confidence is something that lots of people ask me about, and I’m always honest when I tell them that I’m still working on it. But I’ve included some tips below that I’m finding useful – I hope they help you too.
TIPS FOR BUILDING CONFIDENCE
- Many people believe that having confidence means that you look in the mirror and love what you see but that’s not realistic for most people – I doubt that even supermodels look in the mirror and think ‘Yep, you are perfect, nothing to be done here!’ Instead I am aiming for body neutrality: the belief that my appearance is not who I am, it’s just a small part of me.
- At the moment I’m trying to reroute my thoughts when I look in the mirror. For over 14 years, every time I’ve seen my reflection my first thought is ‘rosacea’: How bad is it today? Is it getting worse? What will people think? Is my make up covering it? That’s 14 years of conditioning – most of my adult life – telling myself that my rosacea is a priority. Our words and thoughts have power, so I’m trying to use them for good. I’m trying to undo some of the damage by being kinder to my reflection. It may feel silly to look in the mirror and purposefully give yourself a compliment, but really is it any more silly than looking in the mirror and insulting yourself every day?
- Think of the most beautiful person you know in real life – this could be your partner, best friend, mum. When you picture them in your mind, I’m guessing they’re probably laughing, smiling, or engaged with you in some way: their eyes are sparkling, their faces are full of life. But we never see ourselves from the point of view of other people, which is usually when we are at our best – we see ourselves in unflattering bathroom lighting, unsmiling, slack skin, probably a bit dishevelled… you can’t compare the two. The way others see us is completely different to how we see ourselves. It may feel a little cringey, but ask your friends and family what they think your best qualities are – the answers may surprise you.
I believe that one of the biggest changes to my confidence has been connecting with the wider rosacea community online. According to the Beyond The Visible report, 37% said their friends and family did not understand their condition: this can be isolating and frustrating. But I find that seeing photos of people all over the world, all living with rosacea and just going about their day to day lives, people who look like me and who can empathise with me, so helpful in feeling more comfortable in my own skin.
So to celebrate the launch of the Beyond The Visible campaign, I’ve shared my #RosaceaNoFilter photo on social media and I would love for you to do the same. I know that this is not something to do lightly: even though I’ve been sharing my rosacea selfies for a while I still find it nerve-wracking. But on the internet, we are surrounded by so much ‘perfection’ that it can sometimes feel like you are the only one out there who looks slightly different. It gives me so much strength to see other people sharing their ‘real’ faces – it reminds me that I’m not alone, and it has also helped me to find a wonderful community of supportive and friendly people who know exactly how rosacea feels. If you would like to help me raise awareness of the Beyond The Visible campaign and join me in shouting for a better future for rosacea sufferers, I’d love for you to share a photo of your rosacea on Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #RosaceaNoFilter.
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