‘I am so proud of my skin and myself’ Giorgia Lanuzza on having psoriasis and changing perceptions of beauty

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  • Last year, pictures of Giorgia Lanuzza went viral after she shared her struggle with the skin conditon psorasis, and her positive attitude regardless. Here, as part of our #loveyourbody series, Giorgia tells us about the impact of thousands of people around the world seeing her image, and what she hopes to achieve now…

    My name is Giorgia. I am 25 years old and have suffered with a condition called psoriasis for 12 years now.

    It first made an appearance when I was just 13 years old, after the sudden death of my dad. As you can probably imagine, it was a devastating time for me, and the first signs of the skin condition were an extremely difficult thing to come to terms with – particularly when coupled with grief.

    Growing up, even from a very young age, I was always the leader of the group and joker of the pack. I was very confident and had lots of friends. The prospect of having the incurable condition was daunting to say the least, but I tried to stay positive. My mother has had psoriasis for most of her life too, so whilst the impact on my life was evident, it was reassuring to know already what it was, and that it can be helped with lots of care.

    However, unlike my mother, whose psoriasis only affects her elbows and knees, I have had some very serious cases of psoriasis over the years. It has covered all spectrums of the word annoying, from severe pain and itching and to the unsightly appearance.

    The hardest thing to cope with, other than the pain and discomfort, was the fact that most people are unaware of what it is, and can make a split second judgement about you – based on something that’s completely out of your control.

    I always knew that somehow I wanted to show people, raise awareness and help those in the same position, and eventually, I decided the best way to do this was posting honest pictures of myself online.

    My story quickly went viral, and suddenly I was receiving messages of thanks from all over the world. I was totally overwhelmed by the response, and amazed that my story was being translated in almost every language all over the internet, including Italian. This was a beautiful thing for me as my father was Italian, and so my family out there were able to see what I was doing too.

    I remember looking on one particular site and seeing that my story had been shared over 7.1 million times – I couldn’t believe it! I have, since day one, photographed and saved all of the comments I have been sent – if I’m having a dark day or feeling angry about my skin and the pain I have endured, they always remind me that there’s brighter times ahead. It has truly humbled me to see that just by exposing myself I am able to help so many people and show the world that we are all the same.

    In the spirit of this, I now run a page on Facebook called Different Skin – The Real Giorgia, where I give advice and help to others as much as I can. I’m also in the process of creating a website with all of my photos, and I can’t wait to see where I can go from there.

    I don’t want this journey to end. I want to photograph others with insecurities, to show them that whatever they are insecure or unhappy about can easily be made beautiful and show them that they can turn their pain into strength. Can you imagine a world where everyone was happy with themselves, instead of trying or wishing to be someone else? I just want to try and show everyone that if we can just accept who we are and the flaws we have, we will internally be so much more confident and at peace with our issues.

    I would also love for people to stop going to extreme lengths to try and make their psoriasis go away. Although bouts can come and go, it is incurable, and unlike so many others I refuse to change my diet, drinking habits or live everyday on medication, when just a different frame of mind and positive attitude will and has helped me and my skin immensely. It’s a catch 22 situation – the more people with psoriasis stress about their skin, the worse it gets. I love my skin and have refused new treatments and medication – after all, how can I help others to be happy with their skin if I am trying to cure mine?

    It has its difficulties, but the best thing about my psoriasis is that it has truly made the person I am today. I am so much more confident now that I’ve stopped caring what people think; if I don’t hide it or care about it why should they?

    I think it’s time to make a stand and change how ‘beauty’ is perceived. I am covered in psoriasis, head to toe – but I am still very happy.

    From the start of my journey, I vowed that if this was what I was going to be left with this after losing my dad, I was definitely going to make it a good thing, and I think I’ve achieved that.

    I am Giorgia Lanuzza, and I am so proud of my skin, and myself.