Seeing Ourselves in Psoriasis Commercials
I think we would all be fooling ourselves if we said that commercials didn’t influence us. Case and point: I was just watching about an hour of television before sitting down to write, and all of a sudden I have an intense craving for pizza and feel fairly certain I may need a life alert button.
Marketing is an effective craft! In fact, many people only know about psoriasis because of commercials they have seen. Still to this day, I hear people talk about an ad from the early 60s with the popular slogan “the heartbreak of psoriasis.” In fact, whenever I tell someone from that generation what is on my skin, they instantly repeat that well-known line.
For us, or about us?
Nowadays you can’t turn on the television without seeing a commercial for psoriasis medication. In fact, my coworker and I were recently watching a show at work when one came on. I have been mostly clear since he started working with our company, so I don’t think he knows that I have psoriasis, or that it used to cover 85% of my body. When the commercial was finally finished (after the minute-long ominous voice telling you every possible horrific side effect), he boldly said, “At least psoriasis isn’t that bad. There are a lot worse things to have than dry skin.” Don’t worry. He got a full education on the complete body/mind effects of the disease shortly after.
Until that point, I had been thrilled by the awareness psoriasis medication commercials had generated. I have had the pleasure of meeting some of the patients featured in these ads and was glad to see representation of real people talking about their disease. Ironically, about a week after my coworker’s comment, I saw a similar comment on Twitter. So I did a quick search of “psoriasis commercials” to satisfy my curiosity. Here is just a small sample of what I found:
“I never noticed anyone with Psoriasis until the weird commercials, now I stay away”
“Every time I watch television, I see like 50 psoriasis commercials, yet, I've NEVER met anyone who even knows someone that has it”
“We see you, people with psoriasis. No one cares, we actually are sick of these commercials begging for us to see you.”
“I love how psoriasis commercials never actually show psoriasis.”
“Lol at these psoriasis commercials that ask people to see them beyond the condition when the actors don't show any symptoms to see past”
Stigma vs. sharing your skin
I think it is an understatement to say I was a little taken back. Here I was thinking these commercials were making progress in reducing the stigma, but it became painfully obvious that it isn’t the case. The last two comments (and many more like them) were the most surprising to me. Seeing these patients with clear skin made me excited. I never once thought that showing people with clear skin, some for the first time in their lives, would make non-sufferers view the disease as something “not that bad.”
So what can we as the psoriasis community do to combat these misunderstandings of our disease? One movement that I am a huge fan of is the #getyourskinout social media trend started by a fellow psoriatic crusader. The premise is using social media in a positive way by showing what psoriasis looks like with confidence. The more we love our skin, the more others will too! After all, we all have a unique journey that can’t be summed up in a 60-second advertisement. Share yours!
How often do you experience brain fog?