I recently wrote a post about the sun & tropical vacations (both of which are currently at the center of my winter daydreams). But I didn’t get into the most stressful part about hitting the beach: taking off your clothes!
Around springtime, when the weather gets warmer and the clothes get smaller, everyone starts to realize they forgot to fulfill their pesky New Years Resolution of getting into shape. I’m guilty of falling into the hype, but I really start to stress about my skin. In my daydreams, I show up to the beach with clear, bronze, smooth skin and strut down the shore like a super model, in slow motion of course. In reality, I fear the sun reflecting off my SPF45+ lathered, pale skin will blind everyone on site. Though on the bright side, if they’re blinded they won’t have the chance to see my red spots. Anyone with psoriasis has been in that uncomfortable situation with someone staring, pointing or even ignorantly saying something rude.
The summer going into my junior year of high school, I went with some friends to the beach. My skin was pretty spotty at the time, but I had been looking forward to relaxing in the sun and catching up with the girls. But an incredibly ballsy women ruined my day by marching up to ask if I had the chicken pox or “something else contagious.” Before I could explain, she went on to provide me with an incredibly loud lecture about how irresponsible I was, putting everyone around me in danger of catching my disease – especially her precious children. I wasn’t as comfortable in my skin then, as I was learning how to live with the disease so instead of the earful that I replay in my head about what I would have said – she got a whisper reply of “uh, I have psoriasis…” and me shrinking my 5’7″ lanky frame into my beach chair to hide from everyone staring at our exchange. Looking back, I know it was probably not that loud of a conversation and I’m sure not that many people cared to stare, but I was too embarrassed to notice at the time.
I’m reminded of that encounter whenever I put on my bathing suit. Even when my skin is in good shape, I still think about how she made me feel. It ultimately made me a stronger person, but I can clearly remember feeling incredibly self conscious and horrified. She made me feel like some kind of freak, which was a horrible thing to do to a 15-year-old girl (didn’t I have enough to worry about – like college and boys). Other than having spotty skin, I was a perfectly normal teenager – super fun and bubbly, somewhat responsible, a good athlete and a kick ass babysitter. She didn’t know me as a person and she judged me solely based on my appearance. I can’t stop that kind of judgement from happening, but I’m in control now about how I allow other people to let me feel about it.
Photo: colemama via flickr