Stop Being Afraid and Show Some Skin
Brittany looks back at her summer wardrobe, and how it pushed her to take the next step in taking care of her psoriasis.
Brittany, a born-and-raised New Yorker, was diagnosed with psoriasis just a few years ago. Upon her diagnosis, she jumped right into psoriasis advocacy work and started her own blog, committing herself to help others living with psoriasis.
With summer at its end, I always like to explore a retrospective view about how I felt about my wardrobe over the summer months. I know it seems silly - thinking about short-shorts and tank tops when the weather is starting to turn - but for those living with psoriasis, it’s something we think about often. Outfits aside, it also has a bigger meaning - it shows who you were before, and what you can do to better yourself moving forward.
Where it all started
Before we get into it, you should know that I didn’t grow up with psoriasis, so when spots started popping up on my legs, arms and scalp, my summer wardrobe seemed more frightening than fun. I knew the short-shorts I once loved would show off my spotty legs. The tiny tanks that allowed the sun to beat on my shoulders would now expose my psoriasis. Getting ready for a day out in the sun was just no fun.
After I was diagnosed, I took a lot more time and consideration on what was exposed in the warmer months. I’ll admit that some of my choices were ridiculous, but I was conflicted. ‘What should I do?’ I remember saying to myself, staring at my closet in the morning. ‘Is today going to be a cover-up-and-be-safe day or a let-it-all-out-and-face-potential-ridicule day?’ It was a daily paradox I faced.
June - Let’s play it safe
The nice weather came out a little later than usual. I was glad, because that means being covered from head-to-toe was a bit more socially acceptable. Once the temperature hit 75 degrees (24° C), I tested the waters with a pair of jeans to cover my legs and a tank top to expose my arms. I was nervous, but pulled confidence from my ‘you got this’ mantra I routinely do in the morning. As I went out in public, I realized there wasn’t anything for me to worry about. Instead of people noticing my red flares on my shoulders, they simply walked right by - no glaring or snickering to be found. I guess the buildup of a reaction from other people really only existed in my mind.
July - Less is more
Time to get a little more daring. After seeing that the jeans and tank experiment went well, I decided to up the ante: Short-shorts and a tank top, I’m coming for you. Once again, no glares or stares. That didn’t matter, however, as I was still apprehensive to go to some places. For example, one of my most feared moments was showing up at the public pool. However, I took a chance that day and went anyway, flaky skin and all.
But, like anyone, my self-consciousness caught up to me. I remember leaving the pool and not feeling the same confidence I did earlier that day. I decided that long, flowy dresses would be my summer staple from here on out. The loose, soft fabrics were a comfortable and cool way to cover up, and they felt good on irritated skin.
Although I felt comfy in my updated wardrobe, I knew this wasn’t the answer to my problems. I needed to keep pushing, keep feeling confident and not feel chained to my psoriasis. But what should I do?
August - Enough is enough
It took a while - almost all summer, to be exact - to realize that a lot of my feelings of self-doubt were in my head. What was I so worried about? People seeing my spots?
So, rather than hide behind long sleeves, flowy dresses and the occasional sweat-soaked jeans, I decided to bare it all. Short-shorts and tank tops, I’m back! Sure, there were a few stares here and there when I finally left the safety nest of my house, but that’s ok. I wanted to feel more confident, I needed to feel more confident.
Keep taking the next step
It’s not the clothing choices that are the lesson here. It was my persistence to not settle. Sure, I could have become complacent and donned full-length everything this summer, but then I would simply be letting my psoriasis get the better of me. You need to make your own changes and exuberate confidence when you do so. Whether this means wearing tank tops in the summer or - more importantly - finally having the guts to speak up and tell your doctor, ‘I want more.’ Don’t settle for just ‘Ok.’ If you’re willing to take a chance and show some skin over the summer then take the chance to keep asking for more from your doctor. Your skin, summer and short-shorts will thank you.