The Important Beauty of Real Skin

Beth Webster offers a beautiful reminder that we should all love the skin we're in! Having developed psoriasis, her confidence was shaken, and it took the #skinpositivity movement to get it back. Whether you have a skin condition, acne or just aren't loving the skin you're in- you need to read this piece to give yourself a fresh new take on things. 

For me, ‘body positivity’ used to mean the inclusion and celebration of all bodies, seeing beauty in the diversity of unique forms. I have always thought body positivity was an excellent movement. However, it wasn’t until I was diagnosed with psoriasis, that I realised that my definition of body positivity had to be adapted, in my mind at least, to include skin positivity too, a faction of body positivity that I had never had to consider before. 

Two years ago, my skin was pretty much perfect – not that I would have agreed with you. Like many of us, I had a habit of picking apart the smallest details of myself and comparing them to the beautiful yet idealistic (and often highly edited) images we are bombarded with every single day on social media. 

Then I developed psoriasis.

Now I had an incurable, autoimmune disease that left me with red, flaky blotches over nearly every part of my body and I was even less perfect. The unachievable goal of Instagram flawlessness was now even more impossible. Skin positivity was a vital concept that helped me to not just come to terms with, but also to embrace my psoriasis.

My first encounter with skin positivity was the #getyourskinoutcampaign on Instagram, founded by Holly Dillon, that encourages people with psoriasis to stop covering up their skin and flaunt it on social media. Realising how many other people had skin exactly like mine and were facing the same stigma and yet celebrating it, was an epiphanic moment.

Since my diagnosis, I have become increasingly aware of the media attention that psoriasis and other visible skin ‘flaws’ receive. Although often referred to as flaws, can we really class them as such if we see beauty in them, or are they just flaws compared to society’s ideal of perfection?

Skin positivity is most certainly kicking off online and in the media – and I’m totally loving it. Love Disfigure, a campaign founded by child burn survivor, Sylvia Mac, was created to raise awareness and support for those living with a disfigurement, encouraging people to bare their bodies. In March this year, the campaign released a photo shoot ‘challenging the face of fashion’, which featured men, women and children with a whole host of visible skin conditions or disfigurements in swimwear; models with vitiligo, various forms of scarring and psoriasis.

And can you believe fashion actually listened? High-street retail brand, Missguided, recently ran their #InYourOwnSkin campaign that aimed to celebrate “what the industry perceives as 'flaws' and 'imperfections'”, featuring six models with scarring, albinism, birthmarks, psoriasis, freckles and Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB). It’s life-changing for people with any of the above to see a popular retailer recognising and praising their models for the way they look.

Following my diagnosis and discovering the psoriasis community and the skin positivity trend on social media, my Instagram feed is now full of people with psoriasis or campaigns for body and skin positivity. When I wake up, I am flooded with images of people just like me – and they’re being fearless and beautiful and shouting about it all over the internet. Society’s definition of perfect might never be achievable for the people I follow, and for myself, but we have our own ways to quantify perfection and the differences that make us all unique, are also what make us perfect in our own very individual ways.

Realising that clear, perfect skin wasn’t my key to happiness changed the way I view my psoriasis. I learned that I need to celebrate my skin and by doing so, I can influence others to do the same, just as I had been encouraged by the campaigns and accounts that I follow. This is the true importance of skin and body positivity: giving yourself licence to love yourself, just the way you are (psoriasis blotches and all). We can only hope that other brands will start to embrace unique models more and more in the future, and keep the body and skin positivity ball rolling.