Meet Anna Hovsepian

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Name: Anna

Age: 23

Occupation: Part-time student, part-time child caregiver

Location: Canada

Skin condition: Psoriasis

I feel like people with skin conditions often have a one-line explanation that they use to explain their skin condition to others. Tell us yours.

My psoriasis is a complex chronic condition that requires a healthy balance of mental, physical and spiritual care.

What are you up to in life right now?

At the moment, I’m finishing up my final year as a student. I’m working part-time and studying part-time. I’m hoping to get certified in health and safety by the end of next summer to finally pursue a career as an industrial hygienist or a health inspector of some sort. I want to improve the quality of health for the public.

You were in this super fabulous Allure feature last month, where people with psoriasis took these gorgeous portraits really showing off their skin. Tell us what that experience was like. Why did you do it, and what has the response been? Has it changed how you feel or talk about your skin?

I did it in order to raise more awareness on psoriasis, but also to break out of my shell and get even more comfortable with exposing my skin. A big part of my struggles with psoriasis consisted of getting comfortable with people seeing my body as it is, and accepting whatever form of judgement that may come my way. So to do a photo shoot for the first time, and to do it for such a big company was great. It really helped me get myself out there and to be less afraid of what others will think. The response for the Allure shoot has been excellent, I’ve had old friends who contacted me and let me know how proud they are. That means a lot to me, since these are people who I knew before I started dealing with psoriasis that I lost touch with. I keep discovering more and more people with similar skin issues that I never would have thought to connect with before the shoot. It’s definitely changed the way I feel about my skin in terms of how confident I’ve become. Not to say that I’m totally comfortable now, but It’s helped improve the degree in which my anxiety fluctuates when I expose my spots in public. It helps put into perspective that I’m really not alone, and that the rest of those who participated in the allure shoot also go through the similar hardships, but still have the courage to expose their skin.

I love some of the ways you portray your psoriasis - capturing pictures of it next to spotted, circular artwork in museums, or connecting your spots into a constellation. For me, those types of images help me think of the skin as artwork, or divine patterning, and I'm curious what was going through your head when you made them.

You worded that perfectly! I love it. The human body really is artwork and divine patterning. When it comes to constellations I’ve always felt connected to the stars and I am very into astrology so I thought it would be cool to combine something that I love, which is astrology, with something that I try to love more, which would be my skin. What was going through my mind was something like: “gosh this is going to turn out looking wicked”.

However...When I went to the Yayoi Kusama museum I was in a different headspace and overall health status. My body was experiencing one of its worst flares and I felt so connected to the multitude of psoriasis-like shapes around me. I was lucky to be surrounded by so much art that reminded me of my body. After witnessing Yayoi Kusama’s work, I was able to view my psoriasis as art that was worth being shared. It was the first time I really exposed my body next to art in the public but as well as to the public via Instagram. What was going through my mind when I did that was something like: “this is making me anxious but it’s for a greater purpose so I have to stick it out.” I always get motivated knowing that I could help others feel more confident in their skin so that really helps me continue to see my psoriasis as art - because I can also see it in others as art and the feeling radiates through social media.

Where can we keep up with you?

I’m most active on Instagram, my username is @psoulmates

Sarah Harris