“My parents were concerned about me, but I didn’t understand the severity. It’s difficult to explain to a kid that what is going on with them is not normal.”
Constanza Concha is an optimistic and marvelously resilient 18-year-old woman from Venezuela. As a body positivity influencer, she often shares her story with others on Instagram in order to comfort and empower others. At the age of 9, Constanza started having breakouts, and her condition eventually evolved into Acne conglobata. Acne conglobata “is a rare but severe form of acne. It is known for forming deep abscesses that interconnect with each other. Scar formation is very common with this type of acne.” Constanza explains, “I started taking Accutane when I was 11 years old, and I took two types of antibiotics. It was very normal for me to go to my weekly appointment. I would do a chemical peeling, and the doctor would pluck and puncture the cysts in order to drain them. It was very painful. I remember that at the time Accutane was also giving me dry lips, dry eyes, and dry skin. I took Accutane for 4 years. ”
Because of her skin condition, Constanza’s OCD also became exacerbated. “I was diagnosed with OCD at the age of 5. Anxiety makes you hyperaware so I was really aware of how my face looked, and I was really aware of people’s prejudice. I would touch my face repeatedly, and I would touch random objects around me repeatedly. Eventually, my anxiety made my acne worse. Because of that, I’ve dealt with a lot of bullying, but I know people who have even had suicidal tendencies so I’m really lucky to have the support that I do even though bad things have happened.”
Constanza still has vivid memories of when her skin was not doing well. She says, “a lot of the times, I felt like I couldn’t express myself because people just wanted me to get over it. A lot of people don’t think that acne is a big deal. They always told me - Constanza, people go through so much worse. This is true, but at the same time, this doesn’t mean that those struggling with acne don’t matter or are invalidated. Even so, I had to keep it to myself and not feel sad because people would judge me. That’s why I decided to create my account. I wanted to create a space where acne sufferers could feel welcome and share their experiences.”
Constanza believes that it is important for acne sufferers to have a place where they can share their stories and experiences. Because people don’t think acne is so bad, Constanza describes how one’s self-worth can be destroyed. She recalls, “one time at school, I was punched because of my acne. Nobody really believed me about this.” However, Constanza never asks for sympathy. She believes that “it’s important to share things like this.” Constanza says, “I want to explain the reality of acne sufferers to everyone. I don’t know why, but people just won’t believe how raw life can be for someone with acne so I want to create awareness.” She knows that ultimately this could save a life.
“I created my page so that I can be for others what I wanted for myself when I was younger. I just want to make people feel a little bit better when they watch my videos. We’ve been exposed to a lot of junk and lies by brands. We never see real people. We see perfect skin. I just want to change people’s newsfeed a little bit. I know I can’t make everyone proud of their skin, and that’s alright, but at least, I can show them something they can relate to. ”
Constanza has a wonderful sense of optimism and believes that “her experiences have made her appreciate things in her life.” She has even learned to appreciate herself because she is still standing. She relates, “I have learned to appreciate so much, and I have learned not to value the opinions of others because opinions have not been helpful. If I want to change stigmas around skin, I have to understand that I have to be proud of myself. I have to feel great about myself. When I take photos on social media, and I see all of the likes, I should still be the proudest person of myself.”