When I first created my Instagram page, I was not very confident, but I began to find healing and power by helping others and spreading awareness about eczema. Spreading awareness about the impact of eczema is very important to me because people don’t truly understand how deeply it affects one’s life.
For example, when I was a teenager, I didn’t really get sleep. I would always fall asleep in class, and I had to take three Benadryl every night just to try and get some sleep. Otherwise, I would just stay up itching. I actually have a scar on my leg from where my nail sliced my skin as I was itching in my sleep.
When I got older, there was another situation where I even had to leave my job. I used to have a retail job where I was handling new clothes. Unfortunately, I was allergic to the chemicals in the new clothes, and I didn’t figure this out until I took a week off of work. I took time to heal, but even while my skin was still inflamed, I continued to wear makeup.
Wearing makeup felt necessary because we are taught from a young age to be ashamed of our imperfections. Covering my rashes with makeup used to be a part of my everyday routine. But on some days, the makeup wouldn’t stick because my skin was weeping clear fluid. The weeping would cause little holes in my makeup, and I just ended up looking like I had random spots on my face.
Thankfully, I no longer wear makeup to cover flare-ups, and I see more than my eczema. Even when I had an intense eczema flare-up last October, my eczema was not the first thing that I saw upon looking in the mirror.
Over time, my eczema has become normal to me even though it still makes some people uncomfortable. Nevertheless, I’ve decided that I don’t want to use makeup. It makes me uncomfortable, and in my mind, I can’t justify being uncomfortable. If someone is uncomfortable looking at me, that’s on them. I’ve probably worn foundation three times in the past year because I just decided that I don’t want to do it anymore.
At the same time though, I don’t want to make this sound easy, and I don’t discredit how difficult it is to make this change. For me, healing was a process that started with the thought of not wanting my appearance to dictate my emotions. Soon after, I came to the realization that eczema is an irrevocable part of me. Once I accepted it as something that was not going to change, I began to move forward.
But as mentioned before, it’s very hard to achieve this mindset, and even now, I struggle. My eczema flare-up in October was very emotionally exhausting, and my skin was profoundly frustrating to deal with. However, my reaction to it was much different than in the past. Because I’ve consistently had eczema on my face for over a year and a half, I’ve gotten used to it, and I decided to fight against the feeling of shame. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve said to myself - “You know what, Alexis? Eczema is going to be with you, and you can’t do anything about it. You can’t change your eczema, but you can change the way that you think about it and handle it.”
In truth, I actually think that eczema helped me attain this confidence and resilience. Because of eczema, I’ve had to explore who I am outside of my physical appearance. I’ve learned to be at peace with my reflection regardless of my looks. I would take selfies during flair-ups, and eventually, I saw that I could be pretty eczema whilst having eczema. You can be pretty and have eczema at the same time.
Having a skin condition doesn’t make you ugly by default.
And speaking of that, one of the main reasons that I post on Instagram is because seeing someone with eczema in a pretty and flattering light is super helpful. When you’re researching eczema, it’s always a picture of an arm, an up-close of the face, or some random leg with a rash. You don’t see a person. So, it’s nice to see a full person with eczema as opposed to just a segment of one. Eczema doesn’t determine who we are, and at the end of the day, we don’t need clear skin to be whole or beautiful.