Because I have it, too.
I was diagnosed with psoriasis when I was about 9 or 10 years old. And honestly, it was devastating. It’s a horrible diagnosis for a girl on the brink of puberty to be told that she was going to have to deal with inflamed, red, itchy, ugly skin for the rest of her life. What little self-esteem I had at the time plummeted to new lows, and stayed there well into adulthood.
I spent years enduring uncomfortable stares, awkward questions, and grossed-out comments – from adults as well as children. Because my parents didn’t prepare me for these things, I stumbled through them on my own – feeling the weight of people staring, answering rude and insensitive questions. Eventually I learned to keep the offending areas covered up at all costs, to avoid discomfort caused by other people. I can’t tell you how many hot summer days I spent in long pants and long-sleeved shirts, just to avoid talking about my ugly knees and elbows. How many trips to the beach or a pool I lost out on because I wasn’t comfortable going. The ironic part is that getting my skin exposed to the sun would have been the best thing for it – sunlight helps improve psoriasis.
As I got older, the worst was preparing a new lover for the state of my skin. I had times when I was younger that, thanks to a lack of good drug coverage and knowledge of how to take care of myself, my skin was rather bad. I had at least one guy reject me because of the red, scaly patches on my body. And that? Well, despite him being a douchebag that was still a pretty harsh blow – particularly to someone who was already struggling in the self-esteem department anyhow.
Thankfully as I’ve gotten older, particularly in the last decade or so, I’ve found ways of managing my condition. Drug coverage has helped. Changes to my lifestyle (like dealing with stress and eating well) have helped. But honestly? I still live in fear of another major flare-up. Though my self-esteem has improved, I honestly just don’t want to have to deal with it.
So when I heard that Kim Kardashian has psoriasis, too, I was actually interested. Not that I know anything about this woman, because – confession time here – I know pretty much nothing. What I do know is that she’s an absolutely beautiful woman and lots of other women and girls admire her. The fact that she has a potentially devastating skin condition doesn’t change that. I look at Kim and think that this is a great opportunity for her to be a positive spokesperson for the disease – because I guarantee that there are lots of teenage girls out there who share this in common with her. These young girls (and heck, even grown women) would truly benefit from a role model who is able to handle having this condition with grace and maturity. Growing up, I had no such role model or person to look up to. I know that I would have benefited immensely from having one. I can honestly still benefit from that even now, at my age.
I’m just hoping that Kim doesn’t let me down.