I HAVE a skin condition called rosacea. It’s not pretty and it costs me a small fortune to cover up. I don’t leave the house without my “face” – a lovely, organic mineral powder that makes me look, almost completely, normal.
If you’ve never been a blusher, or sported red cheeks, you couldn’t understand what it’s like to go bare-faced in public.
People like me don’t just have a rosy complexion – we shine and glow like boiled lobsters fresh from the pot.
And because it’s not an obvious health problem – such as acne, or scarring – others feel comfy enough to point out the puce, saying things like: “Gosh, you look like a beetroot!” or “Oopsie! Too much fun in the sun and now you’re paying for it, eh, eh?”
It takes an extraordinary strength of will not to slap them upside the head.
That’s how violent you feel, when you’re a woman in full flush.
I’ve never written about my skin problem before because, honestly, it’s not a world event in the grand scheme of things.
And most people are naturally pale, or brown, so both use blusher to colour-up their features; we would rather be seen in black-and-white or sepia, since reality paints us as technicolor clowns.
It helps a bit that Bill Clinton and that red-headed girl from
Sex and the City are celebrity rosacea sufferers. But somehow, they still manage to get away with it – one being a man and the other wealthy enough to afford excellent coverage in public.
This week, though, I couldn’t avoid the topic.
A social media craze has millions of women scraping off their foundation in a bid to raise awareness of breast cancer.
And, if you don’t want to be branded a sell-out or wet blanket, you’d bloody better join in. On the surface, it’s a simple, courageous act: take a make-up free photo of yourself and post it for all to see.
Then ask everybody to donate a couple of bucks to cancer research organisations.
But I won’t do it. And not only because I have rosacea – although that’s a pretty convincing reason not to.
The truth is, I really don’t want nearly 1 000 of my Facebook followers to see my reddened cheeks. I also believe that there are other ways to promote better research into the cancer scourge, such as diverting some funds into alternative treatments – or posting pictures of your pets, along with information about early detection of cancerous cells.
That millions have poured into the various organisations as a result of the #no
makeupselfie drive is fine. But I haven’t seen a single “bad” photograph of anybody; in fact, they all look as though they either have make-up, or are naturally gorgeous.
I don’t fit the latter, thanks to my skin, and couldn’t in good conscience cheat by doing the former – so what’s a girl to do?
What’s emerged from a simple and effective social awareness game is so much more than what was originally intended.
Women are coming face-to-face with the constant, inner question that plagues us: are we good enough, as just us, without all the whistles and bells?
Judging from what I’ve seen, we are. It’s just a pity that we still have to make such a song and dance about it; because that means that underneath, we are all still afraid.