“Is that a birth mark?” This was the comment made to me by the slightly intimidating man who had just asked for the time while I walked towards my local shopping area. I realised his interest in the time was actually a ruse to snatch my phone, so I feigned ignorance and said I didn’t wear a watch. The birth mark comment was his parting shot. The psoriasis on my forehead has got a lot worse over the Christmas period and I will admit to feeling quite self-conscious about it. I wrote on my first blog about how we should be tolerant and understanding towards those who point out the scaly markings because they don’t know any better. I stand by that statement; but no one likes to have their imperfections pointed out – certainly not in the middle of the street by a total stranger.

It’s not the first time someone has made rude comments about my psoriasis with the purpose of being hurtful. Perhaps the strangest time was when two men in a pub in Loch Lomond felt the need to come up to me and point out “you’ve got dandruff, love” while pointing to the white flecks on my shoulders. Despite putting on a brave face to friends, it was nevertheless a hurtful and rather humiliating experience.

I’m quite embarrassed to admit that, as I walked around the shops doing some January sales browsing, the rude man’s comment kept going around in my head. I was angry that someone felt that they could point out anything about me that makes me insecure and annoyed at myself for not coming up with a better retort than just a weak “no, its not”.

As I stood in a shop changing room I caught myself peering into the mirror thinking “is it really that noticeable? Should I feel more self conscious about it? Do I look hideous and repulsive and are my friends just too polite to tell me?” The most exasperating aspect was that I cared at all. Why should a complete stranger’s flippant comment bother me to this extent?

Of course, I know why the comment has bothered me so much – it’s because I am self-conscious about my psoriasis at the moment. I can handle being blasé about it when it’s easy to cover up with long sleeves or trousers, but it’s much harder to be confident when it’s on your face. Wherever I go, whatever I am doing, the people I interact with will be looking at my face. Most people don’t comment on it; but that almost makes it worse because I wonder what they are thinking that they feel they can’t say.

Reading over the last few paragraphs I realise that my feelings of self-consciousness could apply to anyone with something physical that makes them insecure. No one should be made to feel embarrassed or humiliated by a stranger in the street but sadly some people are mean and take pleasure in upsetting others. The most important thing to do is to try and not let it get to you (I know, I’m a hypocrite) but that really is the only way.

My psoriasis-dappled skin is the skin I live in and I can’t change it or control how people react to it. What I can do is remind myself that we all have our insecurities and remember that it’s often our imperfections that make us beautiful.



Jennifer White is a public affairs consultant who specialises in health at Lexington Communications. She has had psoriasis her whole life and is keen to share her experiences with others in the hope it might help them feel better about the condition. She regularly tweets on health policy and can be followed @JOCWhite.

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