Photography by Adam Vo | Styling by Elle Marie | Creative direction by Cynthea Corfah | Hair and makeup by Cekeisha Williams | Models: Ferrin Roy, Nicole Scott and Taylor Thomas | Shot on location at Achroma Studio
I was 25 when I developed full body eczema. I had multiple jobs, modeled for local clothing boutiques and loved the skin I was in. That was until I decided to stop using prescription topical and oral steroids to treat it. I didn’t want to use addictive medicines with harmful side effects anymore, so after years of using topical steroids I quit them cold turkey. For months, I tried to relieve my skin naturally by changing my diet, trying light treatment, and applying natural oils, organic salves, balms and fragrance-free moisturizers.
By the beginning of 2020, the woman staring back at me in the mirror was unrecognizable. I could hardly look at myself. Like continents on a map, dark, itchy rashes went from patches on my skin to consuming my entire body. My skin tone went from a light brown, cafe au lait to a deep, dark brown, mocha latte. It felt as if I was wearing a layer of clothes I couldn’t take off.
For months, going to bed was like a jail sentence. I was a prisoner in my own body. A deep internal itch would come over my body every night that could never be satisfied—even after hours of intense scratching, deep breaths, tears, bloody legs and stained sheets. “How will I ever feel beautiful again?” I wondered. “Am I a freak?” “How do I fight the stares, questions or unwarranted skin care suggestions?”
In July 2020, in the middle of a pandemic, the eczema on my face spread like wildfire. One moment, my face was hot, damp and inflamed, the next it was dry and scaly, like a reptile in the desert. My eyes were so puffy and swollen I could hardly open them. I couldn’t work like this, let alone live a happy life.1980s gold beaded duster jacket, $88
1980s clay clip on earrings, $22
Gold woven belt (worn as a necklace), $24 FromTime Warp
So I surrendered. I went back to the doctor’s office and took the same medicines I once swore I’d never touch again. Within a few shorts days, poof, the eczema calmed down. It was as if I was a bare tree shedding its fall leaves, making room for new lively buds to grow. My skin started to smooth, and I could recognize my face again.
While I wanted to heal naturally like the success stories I read about on Instagram, my body found relief with the help of Western medicine. And for that, I was grateful.
Like the seasons, my skin has seen many changes, and my journey is just one of many. From eczema and psoriasis to rosacea and albinism, everyone’s skin has its own story.
My path wasn’t easy, but I knew I wasn’t alone. I wanted to talk to other local women with unique skin stories and hear how they’ve overcome insecurities and learned to love themselves. Throughout my skin journey, there have been many days I didn’t feel beautiful. So I wanted to cover the pages of our September style section with a celebration of real women showing off their real skin in timeless, fashionable clothing.
Local author and inspirational speaker Ferrin Roy was born with a 4-inch, heart-shaped nevus birthmark on her right cheek. After being bullied as a child and never feeling represented in the media, she decided to love herself unapologetically.
Since then, the 33-year-old has published two inspirational books promoting self-love and faith: The Mark She Kept: A Woman’s Journey to Living Her Purpose Courageously and Bloom into the Woman God Created You to Be.
“I hope to teach others to live their lives no matter who is watching, be kind to others and educate yourselves on skin pigmentation,” Roy tells me. “Comparing yourself to others is a waste of your authenticity. The world needs more real people, and it begins with you and me.”
Baton Rouge nurse, yoga instructor and community leader Nicole Scott has also had a skin condition since she can remember. The 42-year-old nurse has battled with eczema her whole life. She has dry, itchy rashes behind her knees, the insides of her elbows, thighs, shins, hips and chest.
“In my 20s, I saw a dermatologist who prescribed topical steroids that didn’t work,” Scott says. “In my 30s, I tried home remedies like hydrocortisone, and that didn’t work. In my 40s, I found out that I’m allergic to most topical things and was prescribed an injection called Dupixent. That worked, but it’s so expensive that my insurance won’t cover it.”
She manages her breakouts with cool showers, eczema-friendly moisturizers and natural oils. Scott encourages her social media followers to be gentle with themselves, practice self-care and listen to their bodies.
“It’s so easy to want to just cover up your flaws,” Scott says. “I’m still working on loving myself despite the eczema. Some days are better than others.”1970s gold lace long sleeve top, $34
1980s beige puff shoulder jacket, $42
1980s taupe leather pants, $48
1970s beige beaded clutch, $26
1980s beige clip on earrings, $24
Naturalizer shoes Model’s own
St. Joseph Academy senior Taylor Thomas was born with fair skin and small, light brown freckles all over her face. Despite being asked about her freckles often as a child, the 17-year-old learned to love herself at a young age. “I love my freckles and will never cover them up,” Thomas says. “Sometimes I forget I have them until someone says something.”
We live in a society where photos of airbrushed skin, cosmetic skin procedures and skincare products with harmful ingredients are the norm. But whether your skin is bumpy, flaky and discolored, or smooth, toned and radiant, it’s more important now than ever before to celebrate the skin we’re in.
The beauty and fashion industries have made large strides over the years, but they still have a long way to go. Fashion model Winnie Harlow, known for publicly speaking about her vitiligo skin condition, made a name for herself on the 21st cycle of America’s Next Top Model in 2014 and has changed the modeling industry ever since. Now, more designers, companies and publications are starting to celebrate people with all types of skin conditions.
225 wanted to be a part of the revolution. We intentionally chose to feature three local women with different skin conditions and styled them in neutrals and earth tones to complement their natural skin. Glimmering golds, crisp whites and variations of brown accentuated their unique complexions. Dressed in a mix of vintage and modern clothing and accessories, the women were styled like royalty.
No two people’s skin is the same. That is the beauty of our skin. From the post pregnancy stretch marks on your stomach to the scars on your knees from falling off your bike as a child, your skin is like the pages of your life’s memoir. Today and always, celebrate your skin at every stage. In a world that encourages uniformity and sameness, honor what makes you stand out. No matter the season, real skin is always in style.
This article was originally published in the September 2020 issue of 225 Magazine.