Edinburgh based plus size style and fat positive blogger AmandaApparel discusses her experience with self love and psoriasis, and shares stories from others with similar skin conditions.
When it comes to loving your body, some things come easier than others. For me, it’s easy to love my eyes, and my hair, and my bum. My arms and my stomach on the other hand, that takes some work. Right now, I’m working and learning to love my psoriasis covered skin. Taking photos of my fat body helped me learn to love every roll, curve, lump, and bump, so I thought I’d try the same with my skin. I document my before and after makeup selfies on twitter and tag them with #PsoriasisLife.
Skin’s a funny thing, isn’t it? We learn from a young age that our skin should be smooth, poorless, evenly coloured, and “perfect” in every other conceivable way. Thanks to YouTube tutorials, amazing cosmetics, Instagram filters, and apps like Facetune, it’s easier than ever to hide the truth. The truth is, I have psoriasis. It’s red and itchy and flaky and sometimes it embarrasses me. But body love means loving my whole body, unconditionally. Psoriasis and all. I asked other babes with various skin “imperfections” about their experience, and this is what they had to say.
Skin conditions can make people feel disgusting, or less than
“Now, I feel like it looks disgusting sometimes. It's my own fault for scratching & making it worse but it doesn't make me feel great” - Helen, eczema
“It’s embarrassing. Wearing strappy tops, strapless, or swimwear always would make me self conscious... a bit uncomfortable. No matter the body wash, intake of water, or treatments, I cannot shake it. I feel shamed…” - Marie, acne
“I had always been unhappy with how I looked but felt like my skin was one of the few things that were okay and all of a sudden that seemed repulsive to me too.” - Beth, pityriasis
“When my face flares up, it feels swollen and hot and embarrassing - I don't want anybody to see me.” - Sophie, unknown condition
“[I felt] like I was an actual snake, I felt disgusting.” - Tracie, psoriasis
“To be honest, I felt utterly disgusting. People would stare at me in the street and make comments. My skin would constantly weep and peel, and occasionally get infected. My face was bright red a lot of the time and I had a patch of eczema beneath my nose that never shifted, and would get worse if I was hot, sweaty, embarrassed or nervous. The dry skin on my forehead and neck flaked continuously and made me look like I had terrible dandruff.” - Kate, eczema and hidradenitis suppurativa
“I felt like I was disgusting and, I realise now, I felt depressed. I was at secondary school and I already stood out because I was very tall and I have naturally curly hair. I suspect you can imagine how teenage girls and boys behave towards a girl who stands out in that way, school was an awful time for me.” - Jude, acne
“My beautiful best friend had flawless skin and I remember constantly comparing myself to her. I felt dirty and greasy and just plain hideous.” - Robyn, acne and scarring
Concealing “problem areas” tends to be a primary goal
“I have never ever posted a photo without makeup or if you can see my acne or textured skin . I also will scribble my face out if I post a picture with a friend.“ Joy, eczema and cystic acne
“If I am having a face flare up I can't use make up, so I don't post photos. I do avoid having my hands in photos too.” - Sophie, unknown condition
“[I hide] face with makeup and all visible scarring in my legs covered with stockings. I am challenging myself against this thinking, but yet I find it kind of horrifying.” - Pauliina, eczema & acne
“I would never let anyone photograph me when my rosacea flares up.” - Madeline, eczema and rosacea
“When it's very bad, it does diminish my confidence...I try to cover it up a lot.” - Claudia, acne
“Yes. I never post photos without makeup so if I do get a rash. I stay off social media like Instagram until it's gone.” - Hayley, allergy rashes
“I can't remember the last time I wore a sleeveless top without a jacket or cardigan over the top of it to cover my arms/armpits because of the fear of those scars showing, and someone drawing attention to them.” - Emilia, sores and scars
“I try to cover it up if possible. If it's in a place where I can't conceal it I try not to leave the house, and if I have to I feel like I should apologise for it.” - Mia, eczema and pityriasis
Self love and the body positive movements excludes skin conditions, but how do we change that?
“People talking about the way bodies are imperfect, normalising differences in skin appearance. Less of an obsession with skin care as a moral obligation, I can't use most lotions and potions cos they'll give me a flare up so I just stick to the same products.” - Mel, sebhorric dermatitis
“People could perhaps do videos or tutorials explaining how they combine skincare with beauty. That would be cool to see.” - Hannah, eczema
“Skin conditions being seen casually, not included as something as a big deal.” - Helen, eczema
“More inclusivity and adding of conditions in articles/blog posts etc.” - Fiona, eczema
“Showing people with skin issues would be a good start.” - Iy, self harm scars
“Feature models with skin conditions! Eczema is really hard to cope with but understanding that it doesn't make you ugly is so important.” - Lucy, eczema
“Rather than only sharing skin stories that are aspirational stories or recovery stories, I'd love to see more 'right now' stories, and people sharing what they are currently affected by without any editing.” - Kitty, eczema
“I believe that in order to celebrate body positivity correctly we need to celebrate the things that can't be changed, which includes skin conditions. People shouldn't have to cover up and feel embarrassed by something they didn't ask for.” - Madison, hidradenitis suppurativa
Doing my part
Like I mentioned before, I’ve been relatively open about sharing unedited photos of psoriasis on Twitter. I used to be VERY adamant about editing my psoriasis patches out in blog photos, especially if it was for a lingerie shoot. I’ve been moving away from editing out blemishes lately, but I’d like to take that further. From this moment on, I will never use Photoshop to edit out skin “imperfections.” I’ve added the following to my policy page:
“This blog uses photoshop to stylise and edit photos. However, the following will never be intentionally removed in editing: blemishes, psoriasis, stretch marks, cellulite, and scarring.”
I hope that this transparency will promote a culture of honesty within the community here at AmandaApparel!
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Special thanks to the following for sharing their stories:
Alex • Alice • Beth • Bianca • Claudia • Elizabeth • Emilia • Fiona • Hannah
• Hayley • Helen • Helen• Iy • Jen • Joy • Jude • Kate • Kitty • Lexi • Lucy • Lucy
• Madeline • Madison • Marie • Mel • Mia• Paulina • Robyn • Sophie • Tracie