Bravery and Erasure in the Media
17 May 2022
Image source Marie Claire: https://www.marieclaire.co.uk/life/health-fitness/cara-delevingne-psoriasis-met-gala-778641
The MET Gala 2022 featured plenty of headline moments and interesting fashion statements. None were quite as memorable and captivating as the outfit of actress and model Cara Delevingne, who appeared on the red carpet in a pair of tailored trousers and a suit jacket. Once the photographers started taking her photo, she took off the blazer to reveal she was wearing nothing underneath but gold chains and nipple covers. She was painted from head to toe in gold body paint and the only areas of her body left unpainted were those affected by psoriasis. Presumably, she made this decision both to avoid aggravating her psoriasis, but also to make a bold statement about psoriasis not needing to be covered up.
It´s refreshing and inspiring to see Cara share her psoriatic disease unapologetically with the world. It can help people living with the condition understand that they are not alone.
Various media outlets thought the same and saw Cara's choice of outfit as an opportunity to spread valuable information about psoriatic disease. For instance, Marie Claire and Women's Health Magazine, both wrote great and informative pieces about Cara´s choice of outfit and psoriasis.
Other media outlets chose a different approach. Vanity Fair and Cosmopolitan both wrote articles that completely ignored the fact that Cara´s psoriasis was on display. They chose pictures where her plaques were concealed. We are not here to condemn either Vanity Fair or Cosmopolitan. Rather, we see this as an opportunity to talk about the erasure of diseases visible on the skin, such as psoriasis, in media. People are more than their illness, and psoriatic disease need not be at the center of every story. Censorship of the condition, however, is another matter. The reality is that millions of people all over the world are living with psoriatic disease. When their condition is represented at a renowned event such as the MET Gala, it is an opportunity for visibility and education.
Judging by the response from people living with psoriatic disease on social media, Cara´s choice of outfit was met with appreciation.
We know that psoriatic disease may negatively affect self-esteem, confidence, and body image. These issues are often associated with rejection from society, a social process called stigma. What´s worse, stigma is often accompanied by self-stigma: individuals with psoriatic disease can feel self-conscious and embarrassed due to their condition. Statistics show that 4 in 5 people living with psoriatic disease face stigma and discrimination due to their condition. Education, representation, and visibility are essential when it comes to combating stigma in people with psoriatic disease.
That´s why it´s so important that psoriatic disease is being talked about and that the public receives adequate information about the condition. In order to combat stigma, we must understand that not all skin looks the same.
We applaud Cara Delevingne and her courageous and creative choice to boldly display her psoriasis at this highly publicized event. Her confidence gave media outlets the opportunity to educate their readers about psoriatic disease. Today, we are one step closer to stopping stigma against the disease.