Living with eczema taught me how to be comfortable in my own skin

Once you accept it, living with it gets so much easier

Skin is the largest organ of the body and it’s what protects you from the harsh, outside world.  It can get annoying, with the occasional (or not so occasional) zit that tends to pop up at the most inconvenient time.  But when we think about skin in a societal context instead of a biological context, it gets a lot harder to understand.

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My cousins and I

Racism is linked with skin and will probably always be.  Different skin types are looked down upon by others, and this has to stop.  The woman with the darkest skin is as beautiful as the little girl with the pale, almost white skin.  Skin is skin.  It protects us and should not be something used to hurt others.  We are all beautiful, and it’s time we all realize that.  Race isn’t even a true concept.  We are all humans, derived from the same planet.  We live and breathe the same air, eat the same food, and ultimately spend our lives on the same planet.  It’s time for racism to actually stop when people see that race isn’t a real thing, or at least realize that skin does not define a person.

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Then we have skin conditions. This topic hits a lot harder to my own experience.  I am half Filipino, and almost all of my Filipino relatives suffer from eczema.  Eczema, for those who are unfamiliar, is a skin condition that has to do with the immune system.  The immune system is more susceptible to allergens, because the upper most skin barrier which blocks allergens has cracks, which allow particles to infiltrate and irritate the skin.  This causes itchy, red, flaky skin.  As you get older, eczema gets more dry and itchy, and those who suffer into adult hood rarely get relief.  This past fall semester was hard on me, and the combination of stress, lack of sleep, and lack of nutrition caused my eczema to flare up to the most severe state I’ve ever had.  It’s been four months after the flare up and it is still noticeable, and others ask about it.

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The folds of my elbows, where eczema is commonly found.

With these societal problems with skin confidence, it’s not a surprise many people feel uncomfortable in their own skin.  From my own experience, I tried my hardest to hide my eczema, and whenever I would wear short sleeve tops, I’d feel like everyone was staring at my “different” skin.  I’d stare at people’s clear skin, and feel worthless.  I’d feel jealous, because those who do not have eczema do not realize the excruciating, itchy pain that you have to live through.  Many times I wish I could scratch off all my skin and have new skin to grow, skin that doesn’t have eczema.  People would recognize my arms and be disgusted or worried, as if I was strange and something was wrong with me.  And this is the problem I have with skin inequality.  People need to realize skin conditions, not only eczema, are not a little itch that goes away, that it’ll eventually clear up.  For some, this condition is their LIVES.  They must go everyday, living with this insatiable itch that will forever occur.  When people sound disgusted with my skin, I feel like I’m an outsider with something that I can’t control.  I didn’t ask for an immune disorder with my skin. And those you discriminate against, should be proud of their coloring.  They should love their skin in its entirety, and not worry about someone looking at them the wrong way.

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Me getting ready for my cousin’s wedding, wearing a short sleeve dress and being confident even with my eczema showing.

Now, it seems as if I put off these problems as unsolvable, considering you cannot change what or how your skin is.  This isn’t the case though.  Everyone is beautiful, no matter what conditions, or coloring you may have.  If you have eczema like me (and I know there are more of you out there, maybe hiding it like I used to), it’s ok.  Embrace your skin condition and love your skin, because once you accept it, living with it gets so much easier.  And whenever you feel that itch, you’ll shrug and just put some well-needed lotion on it and move on with your day.  And for those reading this for their skin color, you’re beautiful.  Each and everyone one of you.  Do not believe those who are ignorant enough to believe otherwise.  Feel comfortable in your own skin and feel confident enough to know that it doesn’t matter what others think, all that matters is that you feel comfortable in your own skin to explore your interests, without believing you are at a disadvantage.

You are all beautiful.

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