People are already aware of the blemishes they have on their body, so why bother pointing them out?

This photo was taken by my lovely friend, Molly Cunningham.

My entire life I have been in an infuriating mental battle with my rosacea. For those lucky ones unfamiliar with the term, rosacea refers to a skin condition that causes a variety of symptoms evident on your face and neck. This can look vastly different from person to person, but for me, it causes my cheeks to physically burn and get extremely red.

This is just one, completely unedited, glimpse of my rosacea caught on camera (not even in its worst form).

To make matters worse, my rosacea is triggered by almost anything.

Doing a light work out? Red face.

Taking a stressful, time-sensitive exam? Red face.

Sitting in the sun for a short five minutes? Red face.

Having a completely casual conversation with my closest friends? You guessed it– my cheeks cannot seem to even let me enjoy the simplest, most mundane moments without getting red.

Unfortunately, I truly would not mind the fire engine color if it weren’t for the heat accompanying it. In its worst episodes, my rosacea genuinely causes me discomfort and can even completely throw off my body’s internal temperature. My face could be burning, but the rest of my body will have chills.

Although this condition does my body no harm at all, it has become an incredibly sensitive insecurity of mine that continues to dock my self-confidence every time it arises. And, to be brutally honest, this insecurity has stemmed solely from the comments made about it by others.

I touched upon this a few years ago in an article I wrote for The Odyssey, but since this issue has not lessened any, I wanted to talk about it again on this platform.

It will never cease to amaze me how often people will speak before taking a second to think about the implications of what they’re going to say beforehand. I have had so many people make comments directly to my face about the color of my cheeks– as if I was not already aware of it.

Now, most times, I do think these comments are made out of concern. For example, a commonly asked question of me is, “Your face is so red, are you feeling okay?” This, in theory, is a kind gesture; it is just the implementation that needs work. Believe it or not, people are typically aware of the state and appearance of their bodies without needing someone to point it out for them.

It is because of comments like these that I have gotten into this unhealthy, self-diminishing habit of bringing up my burning face before others can. I tend to grasp my cheeks the minute I feel them growing warm and announce how red they are, just so those around me don’t get the chance. Though, this only makes the others immediately aware of it, which inevitably causes me to be even more self-conscious.

Regardless, this entire problem could be avoided if people did not feel the need to comment on others’ physical appearances for them.

What’s even worse is that my friends or peers like to rebuttal my embarrassment of my inflamed skin with a comment like “It doesn’t even look that bad!” Or, my personal favorite, (typically from those with a perfect, porcelain complexion) “My face gets red all the time; I feel your pain!”

Again, these reflections are usually only an attempt to make me feel better, but it never does the job. People’s insecurities don’t magically go away just because they’re told that it doesn’t look bad. Sometimes, this can even fuel the problem even more.

To further my point, these types of remarks– even if they are said with good intentions– can be incredibly detrimental to a person’s body image. More times than not, people are unaware of their own “blemishes” until another points them out. Then, without even realizing it, we are suddenly falling down a nasty rabbit hole where we then are constantly thinking about how others perceive that part of our body.

For me, my rosacea is not something that I can see myself getting comfortable with anytime in the near future. I have faced years of destructive remarks on it, so much so that it now consumes all of my focus in any conversation that causes a little heat to rise to my face.

There’s a quote that I mentioned in my other Odyssey article that I still think about to this day. It reads something along the lines of, “You shouldn’t point out something in people’s appearances if they cannot fix it in five seconds.”

To reiterate, those who have bright red cheeks, scars on their arms, or even acne on their back already know that it is there. There is absolutely no need to make it known again, no matter what your intentions may be, since there is nothing they can do to change it in that moment.

So, the next time you want to comment or ask about a physical aspect of another person’s body…. don’t. We should be looking for ways to compliment each other, not accidentally insult one another on a deeply-rooted insecurity.