Empowering Children Affected by Skin Conditions and Birthmarks to Love the Skin They Are In
By Alanna F. Bree, M.D. ~
Imagine you are a child living with a skin condition or birthmark. Everywhere you go, you wear your disease. It is something you can’t hide from, something others notice immediately when they see you. You have no choice in sharing it with the world.
Unfortunately, this leads to impolite stares and rude comments, as well as bullying and avoidance by others who are mistakenly fear it may be contagious. This is all too common in our society, that spends more money on personal appearance than on both health care and education combined.
Sadly, these affected children feel the need to put on an invisible protective armor while in public, when they would rather just be seen for the people they are on the inside. Children with visible skin differences stand out in ways they do not get to define and often struggle with a lifetime of poor self-esteem.
Fortunately, there is an organization that helps these children whose challenges are more than skin deep.
A Children’s House for the Soul is a 501c3 organization based in Houston, TX, on a mission to educate our communities about visible skin differences. It aims to empower all children impacted by skin conditions and birthmarks, while encouraging and uniting them through social, emotional and spiritual opportunities.
A Children’s House for the Soul provided one such opportunity to three teenagers. Emily, who has atopic dermatitis; Alex, who has alopecia areata; and Mia, who has linear scleroderma, shared their journeys living with a skin condition for a short film. Produced in collaboration with Rick Guidotti, of Positive Exposure, the film is intended to educate current and future medical professionals, educators, students and ultimately the greater community on the deep emotional impact of skin disease.
At the film’s premiere in New York City, Emily, Alex, and Mia were able to wear their disease in way they themselves had defined.
With the help and guidance of Kimberly Oehrlein, a local fashion designer, the girls designed gorgeous gowns with custom-printed fabrics that were created using the microscopic images of each of the girl’s skin diseases.
These beautiful young ladies wore their dresses down the runway during a unique fashion show-and-tell in front of a packed house, proving to themselves and everyone watching that they are truly a masterpiece and an incredible work of art.
The hope of A Children’s House for the Soul is that all children can see themselves as a masterpiece and an original work of art: perfect and authentic; made with care, precision, and love. Not mistaken; exactly and perfectly right.
To see the clip of this special project, as aired on CBS This Morning, to learn more about all that A Children’s House for the Soul is doing to help children with skin conditions and birthmarks, or to donate and support this important and life-changing work, please visit the organization’s website at achildrenshouse.org.