How My Skin Conditions Helped Me Find My Most Authentic Self

The year is 2010, I am surrounded by four white walls that feel as though they are closing in with each passing second.

There was a daunting, deafening silence as I awaited the doctor. I was only 11 at the time. I had been living with a horrible rash where my butt met my thigh. I would hide away in my room, scratching at my skin yearning for the rush of relief I felt when I did. My entire life up until this point I had eczema, but this felt different. It was different.

The doctor entered the room, muttering the words, “you have an autoimmune condition called Psoriasis, you will have it for the rest of your life, I am going to get you started on some steroids.” My entire world came to a crashing halt in that moment. Anxious, itchy, scared, and tired, one question kept playing over and over again in my mind. Why?

Why me? Why this? Why now?

Why did my body feel as though it was failing me yet again?

Was having Eczema not enough?

To be so young, and already at what felt like war with my own body — it was a lot.

Reflecting on who I am now, there is only one thing I wish I could share with 11-year-old Maddy. “You are going to become the strongest, most powerful woman you could ever imagine. And yes, a large part of that is because of your skin. You’re going to cultivate a community of friends and family that will hold you up. You will be a huge influence in the skin world, and it will in turn help women change their own perspectives on skin.”

The last 11 years have come with a plethora of trials and tribulations with my health. I have connected a lot to my skin like my outdoor allergens, leaky gut, food allergies and intolerances, etc. As I have been navigating my adult life I have seen my skin be a factor in a number of things like my friendships, dating life, and my online community.

When you are someone with any continuous health condition, you feel as though you need to come with a warning to friends and potential love interests. I will find myself letting people know ahead of time that I can’t do certain things, or how some days I am fine, and the next I am not. Not everyone will understand. Some friends or dates will look at skin conditions as a negative, especially those obsessed in the fake, plastic-like society that our kids are now growing up with. But, there are those people, the real ones, that will see you not for your skin, but for the warrior you really are.

As I have build my online audience I saw it as a responsibility to keep the authentic, vulnerable side of skin condition Maddy at the forefront. The amount of messages I have received over the years of women (and men) saying things like “My skin looks like yours!! Thank you for normalizing this,” or from parents saying “My daughter follows you and she has skin conditions and she has been able to find beauty in her patches like you.”

Those messages are the fuel in my fire on why I decided to start sharing my skin condition warrior side online.

At the end of the day, my Eczema and Psoriasis do not define me. They are not my identity and they do not represent who Maddy Corbin is as a whole. But they have played significant parts.

Who knew that some sensitive, flaky skin would connect me with amazing, strong women all around the world and allow me to change the stigma on skin all at once.

As hard as this journey has been — I am forever grateful for my experience with my skin.

About the author
Maddy Corbin is an Indianapolis-based Creative Brand Strategist! Maddy has had the honor of working with hundreds of ... Read more articles from Maddy on Thought Catalog.

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