I would imagine that most people spend at least a little time deliberating about what clothes to wear each day. Some people, of course, can take forever! (Naming no names). But our clothing choices should be dictated by our personal preferences, and not affected by a medical condition. Still, it is very easy to fall in to the pattern of trying to cover up those parts of our bodies that are affected by a skin condition.
In the case of psoriasis, that could be a little difficult, but certainly not impossible.
For me personally, I would need some kind of large hat to begin with. Perhaps one like those worn by the French Foreign Legion - which cover both the head and neck – would be appropriate. A large pair of headphones to cover my flaky ears (as I’m not a huge fan of earmuffs), and perhaps some mirrored sunglasses, both to cover the scales around my eyes, and because they just look awesome.
Body, torso and legs are easy enough to cover up, with long sleeves and long trousers. Clearly, I would also need a nice pair of gloves, to complete the awesome look and ensure that no one would ever know I had an autoimmune skin disorder.
Someone is going to see me
Sadly, however, this approach is neither sensible nor sustainable. At some point, other people are going to see at least some of my damaged skin. So the question is, if I can’t hide all of it, why bother to hide any?
Now, I’m not suggesting I become a naturist and wander the earth in my birthday suit, because trust me; no one wants to see that. I am to 'body beautiful' what penguins are to skydiving. Furthermore, certain places that I go on a regular basis, like, say, the office, have a dress code that I am almost certain expressly prohibits this. And that same dress code also prohibits casual clothing in general, so a pair of shorts and a T-shirt is not acceptable. However, being a generally casual kind of person, I am allowed short sleeved shirts or Polo shirts – which I invariably choose. And once outside of the office, weather permitting, it is always shorts and a T-shirt for me.
Whenever possible, I choose – quite deliberately – not to make any effort to cover my psoriasis. Why should I?
Comfort over style
There are other reasons besides appearance, too. Long sleeved clothing chafes at my scaly elbows, and makes them more painful than they would otherwise be. And trousers do the same for my knackered knees. Whist I happily conform to the requirements of my employment, and the other establishments that I may visit, I don’t do so without some discomfort. Hence my desire to aim for comfort at all other times.
Most of the time therefore, people can see my psoriasis. And I don’t care. Not one bit. And neither should you.
Never give up
Now, it might sound as though I have given up on my appearance altogether, and that is nearly, but not entirely, true. I still go out and get a haircut sometimes, rather than become a shabby mess, for example. And when I go clothes shopping, (which to be truthful is not very often) I try to buy items that are at least slightly fashionable. If I understand correctly, for a middle aged man wishing they were still young, wearing Superdry products is practically a legal requirement. So I do care, at least a little, about my general appearance. Just not about how my psoriasis looks.
I am not sure how I arrived at this level of acceptance. I think I must have just woken up one day, looked in the mirror and realising that it just wasn't worth stressing about anymore. But I don't recall the exact moment. I guess it took time.
Not for everyone
I am not necessarily trying to promote an 'I don't care' attitude for everyone with psoriasis. Most people I speak to care desperately about how it, and this is the driving force for them to keep searching for answers and perhaps some relief. I fully support and salute everyone in that position, and totally understand it. But for me, I have found some relief by simply deprioritising the appearance of my psoriasis from daily life. The reduced stress has in itself improved the condition for me, I believe.
In the end, I fully endorse being yourself, wearing what you want, getting out what body parts you (and any witnesses) feel comfortable getting out, and just living in the skin you have.
22nd August 2018