We are nearly at the end of Rosacea Awareness Month 2020 – I can’t believe it! This month I decided that all of my How Do I Look? posts should focus on rosacea and I have loved conducting these interviews. I find it fascinating how different we all are, but that so many similar experiences, emotions, and realities run through all of our stories.
Today’s interview is with the incredible Hallie. I first discovered her when I asked instagram for recommendations for other skin positivity accounts, and had an immediate influx from her passionate followers sending me her way. Her feed is honest, joyful, and fascinating: I hope you find this interview all three of those things.
Tell me about your rosacea
I think I’m a little bit of an anomaly in that I publicly talk about my rosacea and advocate for other sufferers of this condition, but I haven’t officially been diagnosed because holy CRAP healthcare in America is expensive and I can’t afford a dermatologist with no insurance. So, that said, keep in mind that all of these answers are from someone who has had to manage her condition without regularly seeing a dermatologist. I started publicly talking about my skin in general about 3-4 years ago, but specifically about my rosacea when it first really cropped up, around the time I turned 30 (2018).
What are the common misconceptions, comments, or questions about rosacea? What do you wish people knew?
Something I wish people knew about rosacea is that everyone’s condition is different, and there are different types of rosacea. While we can identify with one another and find similarities within our community, it’s hard to make others understand that not everyone’s rosacea manifests the same way. A lot of people think the rosacea pustules that pop up during a flare of mine are acne, or that I should try harsh cleansers or microdermabrasion, which we know would be the exact opposite of what my skin needs. And don’t even get me started on all the people trying to sell me things to “cure” my chronic condition.
How does your skin make you feel on a day to day basis?
On a day-to-day basis, my skin makes me feel hyper-visible. I feel like I’m never able to blend in when I want to just take a day to blend in. (Don’t get me wrong, I love standing out, but sometimes I’d like to just go out during a flare and not be stared at or have to answer questions!)
How do you feel about make up?
I love make up! When I was young, I wasn’t allowed to wear make up, and I never really learned a great deal about it even through college (we’re just gonna skip over the fact that I had a very emo eyeliner phase, we all had it, it’s fine). About 4 years ago, my skin cleared up for the first time in my life. I finally got to experiment with make up and learn to love it! Even though my skin doesn’t stay clear, I’ve learned to love my skin at every stage and appreciate make up for what it is: a way to add accents to my face, play up my cute features, or give me the fiercest brows to help hold me together when my face is painful, red, and sore.
What are your thoughts on the media visibility of rosacea?
I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a single media personality or character with rosacea. I just sat here in front of my computer trying to think of one, and I’m sad to have come up with nothing. I would love to see more representation, more people talking openly about skin conditions, more destigmatization of things that seem “scary” or “gross” or uncomfortable. I’ve found that the more I talk about my skin and all of the pain, discomfort, misconceptions, and personal growth that have come from it, the more connections and love and courage I feel that I can then share with others.
How do you deal with bad days?
On bad days, I force myself to put my face out in the community. Even if I can’t leave my bed, I try to post something on Instagram because I know my fellow rosacea people will understand and be there to support and encourage me just like I try and do for them. When the pain is unbearable, I put ice packs on my face, I cry to let out the feelings, I text friends who ‘get it’, and I watch funny things to make myself laugh.
In the past few years there have been more conversations around the link between skin and mental health, what are your thoughts?
I’m grateful. I’m grateful that these conversations are happening, because my mental health is abso-freakin-lutely affected by the state of my skin. Do I actively work to make sure I’m mentally healthy regardless of whether or not my skin is okay? Yes. Is my mental state still affected to some degree anyway? Absolutely. I love myself so, so dearly. I know that the state of my skin has nothing whatsoever to do with my value as a human being or my genuine beauty, but that doesn’t mean that the way the world views my skin condition(s) doesn’t eventually chip away at my armor, you know? The more open and honest conversations about mental health that are happening, the better.
Have any positives come out of your rosacea?
The positives absolutely exist! I’ve met and connected with so many other rosacea sufferers online that have helped me understand and come to terms with this condition in a way I never could have done on my own. I also like to think that by gaining the confidence to show my bare face in public or online during flares, I am empowering others who see me to do the same. Ultimately, the biggest goal is that we can learn to love and accept ourselves with this condition, rather than hating who we are with it.
What are your top tips for living with rosacea from a psychological POV?
Peruse the relevant hashtags on Instagram and follow the accounts of other rosacea sufferers that inspire you to take your condition seriously, but in a loving way. Reach out to them, encourage them, make friends, these people are your people! Also, allow yourself to just feel the feelings. Don’t tell yourself how you “should” be looking or feeling. Bad days and bad flares are going to happen. You WILL get through it, and you DO NOT have to do it alone. I love you a whole lot.
WANT TO HEAR MORE FROM HALLIE?
- Follow her on Instagram.
READ THE OTHER POSTS IN THE HOW DO I LOOK? SERIES HERE:
- MICHELLE talking about her scars;
- SOFIA talking about her acne;
- NATALIE talking about vitiligo;
- SUSIE on her Telogen Effluvium (hair loss);
- AMY on her port wine stain birthmark;
- GEMMA on psoriasis;
- AMARA on eczema;
- GRACE on her scars;
- JUDY on her sensitive skin;
- SHANKAR on his Vitiligo;
- P. on their Acne Conglobata;
- SOPHIE on her Trichotillomania;
- KALI on her acne;
- CAECILIE on her rosacea;
- and ROSE on her rosacea.
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