Punching Out the Stigmas of Psoriasis

Stay away! You’re contagious. You’re ugly. You’re dirty.

If you have psoriasis, you probably heard some of these nasty comments shot in your direction. This past World Psoriasis Day, my friends and family - along with their friends and family – came together to punch out some of these stigmas while raising awareness for psoriasis and creating a unique art project.

The inspiration

One of my kickboxing buddies posted on her Facebook page a video of artist Omar Hassan using boxing gloves and paint to create a beautiful series of artwork titled “Breaking Through.” In the video, Omar says, “I really want to celebrate this concept aspect of boxing as a real metaphor for life, because you are by yourself and you have to fight. If you go down, you have to get up, and this is the life – the life is a real fight and we are all boxing.”

Many psoriasis patients also feel this way when battling their disease. I know there are plenty of days when I just want to punch psoriasis and tell it who’s boss. I want to fight the insensitive comments spewed at me. And I want to take all of my frustration with psoriasis out at the gym.

There is one part of Omar’s statement that I don’t agree with, at least not with regard to psoriasis. No one with psoriasis has to fight alone.

A community comes together

The kickboxing club I belong to has a history of giving back to the community. Not only is the owner proactive, the members go out of their way to help others feel included and support causes that are close to our hearts.

Using an empty room on the first floor of the club’s building, we suspended a 12 x 9 foot canvas, folded in half. We asked neighbors and friends to donate used house paint, and businesses even got involved by supplying full gallons of paint for our project. My kickboxing club supplied old boxing gloves, and we laid down tarps and had cover-ups to help contain the mess.

We invited everyone we knew to come out and join us on this past World Psoriasis Day. The support was overwhelming!

Our youngest painters were not even two years old, and all of the kids (and adults!) had a blast making a mess for a good cause. The kids even threw glitter on the masterpiece at the end of the day. My four-year-old niece looked like an art project of her own – covered head to toe in paint and glitter. But her smiles were precious!

In the week following World Psoriasis Day, we invited club members to come down between classes and help paint the second side of the canvas. After all, psoriasis awareness should not be limited to one day each year.

Donations accepted

In addition to raising awareness, participants could also make a donation to the National Psoriasis Foundation. No one was turned away for refusing a donation. We just kept a jar on a table with snacks. Oh, the generosity! In all, we raised $400, and with the Foundation’s matching campaign, we were able to double this amount.

It was truly an exciting and humbling experience to see the number of people who supported us with this community project. We’re already looking for creative ways to spread awareness next year. What are your ideas?

Check out our time lapse video of our project during World Psoriasis Day and see how much fun we had.

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