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We as a society spend hours of our day consuming media. If you sit on any mode of public transport no doubt you'll find that there’s someone on their phone or laptop scrolling through Twitter, reading the news or watching a video. In fact, technically, you’re consuming media right this very second.
The media - the thousands, if not millions, of words we read day in and day out, has become a massive part of our lives. It influences a lot of our interests, our friendships and most importantly, the way we view ourselves and others.
If you type psoriasis into google, the first autofill response is ‘psoriasis cures’. It’s heartbreaking, considering there are no known cures.
I, being someone who grew up with a father covered in psoriasis, never saw anything bad about it as a child. Sure, my father complained a lot, but I never really thought much of the condition. Enter secondary school, with the rise of Instagram and the desire to collect fashion magazines, my interest in how other people looked and presented themselves increased. Along with the red patches on my skin.
When you’re that young all you wish for is to see someone who looks likes you being called pretty. You want to be able to open a magazine and see someone like you staring back at you from the glossy pages.
The media coverage on psoriasis used to be little to none. An odd story here and there, of people who had ‘magically’ cured their skin or spoke out about how much they hated it. To sum it up, the media was quite negative towards the condition, vastly due to awareness of the condition being low.
I used to feel so suffocated by the opinions of others, by people who didn’t know me or even care about who I was, all they cared about was the patches of pink skin I had on my body. The odd “it must be so hard” or “you’re pretty but you would be prettier without psoriasis” made me feel so isolated. Why was a simple overproduction of skin cells on my body something ugly? Why was my skin being red and somewhat flaky in some areas seen as a bad thing?
These weren’t questions I would ask myself, rather instead, I agreed with these people. It’s what the media says, so why would they be wrong, because the media is always right. Right?
It was only a year or so ago that I started to see my skin as something other than the thing people pitied me for. My doctors would always talk about how sad it was that I had the condition, how sad it was that I was so young. If my life at that point was a news article the title they would probably choose for me would be: ‘Young teen ruined by skin’.
As comical as that is to me now, I know that for many people this is still their reality. They may not have friends who understand the condition; they may be isolated because of that ignorance. In a world dictated by followers and beauty standards, it’s not a surprise to me that most people my age probably have low self-esteem, mix that with people’s lack of awareness towards a subject and it is disastrous. But it doesn’t only apply to teens. We’re constantly comparing ourselves to others. We look at magazines and see how similar we look to these people deemed beautiful by society. It isn’t something that only teens do. Everyone does it. As someone who posts positively about their psoriasis, I get disheartened when people tell me that I’m beautiful ‘despite’ having psoriasis. No matter how far I think we’ve come, I will always be reminded that my positivity is not necessarily reflected in those around me.
I, a teen living with psoriasis, am seen as brave for posting pictures with my psoriasis by people who cannot begin to imagine how hard the condition actually is. I’m congratulated by people without psoriasis for having confidence to go out and show my psoriasis. It’s on my forehead… how exactly am I supposed to hide it?
But that is exactly the problem. We’re told to act as if we are ashamed of our skin. We’re expected to hide away. This is not some fairy tale. I’m not some wretched beast that wishes to hide in a tower because my skin may be flakier than others. I’m just a normal human being. I don’t wish to be pitied; I’m not someone who needs fixing. Nor do I wish to be called brave. I just wish to be seen as normal. Well, whatever ‘normal’ is.
It wasn’t until a few years ago that I started seeing people post confidently about their psoriasis online. Two years ago, I wouldn’t be able to scroll through Instagram seeing people being positive about their skin. This doesn’t only apply to skin conditions; it applies to almost every aspect we consider when we think about the word ‘beauty’. More and more campaigns linked to loving yourself are coming about and with them, more awareness to what psoriasis is. Whether that be the increase of brands that are beginning to use people with disabilities and skin conditions, a celebrity speaking out about an illness or just someone creating a post on Instagram, the internet is slowly becoming a more accepting place for everyone and with that it’s slowly teaching us, even young teens, to love ourselves.
I cannot articulate the joy I feel being able to scroll through Instagram seeing people talk about psoriasis in a positive light. While it pains me to still see people view their skin as something that can hold them back, I know that many seek solace in people who post positively about psoriasis and this spurs me to continue my positivity, until the day psoriasis is no longer seen as bad thing. The media is becoming more understanding and as more people speak about their psoriasis, the more stories are being shared in news articles every day.
We still have a long way to go and I wish to one day pick up a magazine where on the front cover is a person with beautiful red patches decorating their skin. I hope that one day a girl will walk out of a doctor’s appointment after being told she has psoriasis and won’t feel sorry but feel okay, for she knows she’s just as beautiful with those patterns on her skin as she is without them, because she read an article or saw a post somewhere online where psoriasis was seen as beautiful. Because she’s been told that psoriasis is not the antithesis of beautiful, but rather something that can be paired with it.
UK/IE MAT-25565. Date of preparation: June 2019.
Article developed in partnership with LEO Pharma.