"People have the great capacity to get used to anything: the way my skin looks has come to be very ordinary to me, my self-consciousness is more a lingering mist than heavy clouds."


The relationship I have with my body, more specifically the relationship with my skin, is a complicated one. Around the age of 15, I was diagnosed with psoriasis, an autoimmune skin condition that produces red flaky lesions on the body. At that point it already covered most of my face.


Every time a new outbreak occurs I feel the need to hide my body and its new blemishes under layers of clothes and of make-up. As a 15 year old I didn’t tell my friends and family that I was suffering from psoriasis. Instead I slathered on thick pan-stick foundation and let people think I was simply especially dreadful at applying make-up. I knew I was making myself look awful, but hiding the reality of my condition behind the mask of make-up was the way I tried to take control of how I looked. I may have looked bad, but at least I was choosing the way I looked bad. 


Today with my face mostly clear of patches but my body largely covered, I still often struggle with how I present my body in the world. When other people see my body, I can’t help but think self-consciously, that it cannot be seen ‘simply’ as a body, but always as a body with a skin condition. Now, as at 15, what gets me down most is not exactly being seen as having psoriasis, but the inescapability of this being seen. I can choose to wear clothes that cover up or I can choose to be seen to have a skin disorder. I often feel I can’t be naked without also being diseased. 


I should say that this makes my daily existence sound much more emotionally exhausting than it is. People have the great capacity to get used to anything: the way my skin looks has come to be very ordinary to me, my self-consciousness is more a lingering mist than heavy clouds. In my more optimistic moments I even think it’s come to have a positive effect on how I see my body in other regards.


My physical skills, my emotional and intellectual capacities, all contribute to how I can see my body as most valuable in the way it holistically functions rather than reduced to how it looks. I think my main reason for doing Fully Disclothed was that it provided me with a context for exploring exactly that. I was naked, and skin-disordered, but the main focus of the shoot was how I was using my body: making pieces of jewellery for friends and family, something I do with my body that brings me joy. The fact I have psoriasis in the shoot is not insignificant. What I like to think the shoot will remind me of later on is that I can have a skin disorder without being defined by it.









 

Using Format