Christina’s (otherwise known as @barefacedfemme on Instagram) battle with acne began in the fifth grade. Since then, as she puts it, her “body positivity journey went downhill from there.” The underlying cause behind Christina’s hormonal acne went undiscovered and undiagnosed for over a decade, before she was able to see an endocrinologist, who passed down a positive PCOS diagnosis after a series of tests. Since that point, Christina has worked to find the intersection between PCOS care, hormonal care, and soul-care, as well as what “health” - in all its forms (mental, emotional, and physical) - means to her.
Nice to meet you! Give us some background on you.
Hey there! My name is Christina, and I describe myself as a born and bred New Yorker with a Californinan soul.
I decided to complete undergrad out West, in SoCal specifically, and that’s where I got in-touch with what my body was telling me for the first time. I realized how important taking care of your body is, and saw that for me, it goes way beyond self-care: it’s soul-care.
What did your PCOS journey look like?
My PCOS journey began over a decade ago. I got my first blemish in-between my eyebrows when I was in the 5th grade, and a boy in my grade came up to me and asked me what was on my face. I was utterly humiliated, and my “body positive” journey pretty much went downhill from there.
Unfortunately, fast-forwarding to years later, and I was still dealing with breakouts. My dermatologist recommended I take a blood test to see what was going on internally, and I agreed. The results showed I had high testosterone levels, to the point one would think I was a pubescent boy. Although this was my first clue, I had zero clue this would be PCOS, and my dermatologist did not suggest that possibility, either.
Once I turned 20, my skin was its worst yet, but I had no more answers than I did in previous years. What I did know is that my skin became my worst nightmare. I would stay up until the early hours of the morning trying to figure out what was wrong with me. It was only when I decided to head to an endocrinologist that I was officially diagnosed with PCOS.
Can you share what you have learned from your PCOS experience so far?
By far, I have learned that taking care of your whole body is the most important thing. Our health encompasses so much more than just the physical. Being ‘healthy’ isn’t looking good in a bikini: it’s understanding and honoring the importance of your emotional, physical, mental, and internal health altogether.
Another major thing I’ve learned along my PCOS journey is that hormonal care is the new self care - and I am SO here for it!
What would you say to someone who just received a positive PCOS diagnosis?
I think I’d first say, “Welcome to the club, babe!”
In all seriousness, I want to emphasize that this is a really strong community, and we welcome you with open arms. It’s truly a “cyst-erhood” in the sense that the most important thing to remember is that you are never alone. Help and support is always there if you need it. Just reach out.
Do you have any advice?
I have two pieces of advice:
One is to remember that we all are working to understand this hormonal condition, exploring new treatments, and learning new things about our bodies everyday, so don’t be discouraged if you end up going down a treatment path that doesn’t work for you.
The second thing I would emphasize is that “healthy” looks different on everybody. Don’t compare your PCOS journey too closely to others. As long as you are feeling good and doing what works best for you, well then you’re killing it!
How has sharing your experience on social media affected your PCOS journey?
Sharing my PCOS journey on social media has largely been a positive experience for me. I share all things skin and wellness on @barefacedfemme, and I have found the PCOS community to be so inclusive.
The funny thing about PCOS is that, because it's an invisible condition where you wouldn’t know someone else had it, I’ve found it really helpful to speak out about it. Being vulnerable about my PCOS struggles has taught me many new ways to approach my PCOS, just by learning from others who have had this condition for longer, while also reminding me to stay proactive in protecting my overall health.
Is there anything non-negotiable in your routine for managing your PCOS? If so, what is it?
The biggest thing that has helped me manage my symptoms is going to acupuncture weekly. I swear, when I don’t go weekly, I am a wreck. For me, it’s not only my time during the week to focus on my health, but also to stay accountable and be transparent with my practitioner about my symptoms and how I’m feeling. I’ve found doing acupuncture regularly has helped regulate my cycle, while also immensely improving my cortisol levels! Big win! I highly recommend it!