Mediaplanet: You’ve battled psoriasis your whole life. How severe was it at its peak and what kind of impact did this have on you?

CariDee English: My psoriasis has gone up and down my whole life. I remember right when I hit 13 or 14, it covered 70 percent of my body. It was so hard to be a middle-school girl trying to fit in and find my individuality while having something that made people want to stay away from me. I wanted to stand out, but not stand alone. Also, in my 20s I was trying to break into modelling and my psoriasis was very bad, but soon my curse turned into my cause, and now I’m honoured to model by being a role model for psoriasis.

MP: How did it feel the very first time you were photographed in “your own skin” without any edits or touch-ups?

CE: Doing a photoshoot with psoriasis had mixed emotions. As a model, I feel very confident in front of the camera, and as a woman with psoriasis that was exposed, I feel very self-conscious. When I fused those two powers together — confidence and fear — I felt like I was really doing something I was always destined to do — imprint on this world. My way to bare myself for others.

MP: Where does your confidence come from?

CE: My confidence comes in waves, as a woman. As an artist, navigating through a mirrored life. My humour makes me feel confident, it lets people see me, before anything else. Psoriasis included. I like having people comfortable around me. That humourous side of me grew the moment I had psoriasis. I want people to see my personality before they see my skin. So, I have psoriasis to thank for my weird personality and humour.

MP: What’s one piece of advice you would give to those who are living with psoriasis?

CE: I don’t think there’s just one piece of advice, but a couple of things I use to get me through, including the knowledge that “I have psoriasis and psoriasis DOESN’T have me.” I am not alone. There’s always ways to research my disease, and therefore I feel more in control. Roll up your sleeves, go outside, live your life, and tell yourself when you’re feeling insecure, “what other people think about me is none of my business.”