Australian influencer and swimwear designer, Karina Irby, has ignited a conversation about the challenges faced by those with skin conditions, after sharing a distressing experience during what was supposed to be a relaxing pedicure appointment at a local salon.
Irby, who openly speaks about suffering from eczema as well as a skin condition called Pityriasis, took to her social media to recount the uncomfortable encounter.
In her own words, she described the situation, saying, "So I’ve got eczema right and pityriasis. My skin doesn’t look like everybody else's skin. I’ve got lumps, bumps, and scars, like I get it, I look different."
The influencer said she woke up feeling confident and decided to indulge in a pedicure, however, her experience took an unexpected turn as soon as she arrived at the salon.
Irby explained how the pedicurist reacted upon seeing her skin. "Now the lady comes over to do my pedicure, and she takes one look at my leg," Irby recounted. "She doesn’t even look at my face; she just looks down at what she’s about to deal with."
What followed was a deeply uncomfortable moment. Irby observed the pedicurist's visibly concerned and unsettled expression, and she couldn't help but feel judged.
"I kid you not, I just watched her for a good 20 seconds, and then she looks up to my face and she goes, 'Is this okay to touch, like can I touch this?' And I'm like, 'Yeah, you can touch it.' Oh my god. I'm mortified like I want the ground to open up and swallow me whole, please."
Although the salon staff member eventually put on rubber gloves, the awkwardness persisted throughout the entire appointment. "She’s just staring at my legs with this face, like this really concerned and confused face," Irby continued.
The experience left Irby feeling self-conscious and unable to relax during her pedicure. She explained, "All in all, I’m just trying not to cry. I feel like everybody is looking at me; they’re probably not, but that’s just how I felt."
In her candid video, Irby also addressed her self-image and the stigma surrounding skin conditions. "I feel like my legs aren’t even that bad right now," she expressed. "I know they look all scarry and lumpy and stuff, but it’s just skin. I’m not a walking disease."
Irby elaborated in her Instagram caption that despite holding back tears, the incident is the precise reason she speaks so openly about her skin conditions.
"It needs to be normalised," she wrote. "Growing up, parents would call the school and ask that their child were to not sit next to me in class or play with me on lunch with concerns I was contagious. When I was a dancer. I was made to wear skin coloured stockings so my legs looked like everyone else’s. At school camps teachers wouldn’t allow other kids to borrow my sunscreen incase it was infected."
Irby acknowledges that it took her years to overcome these traumas but felt they all resurfaced as a result of the one pedicure experience.
She concluded, "people with skin conditions aren’t contagious, riddled with disease and to be locked away in a tower. We’re just like everyone else. Our skin isn’t our entire identity!"
Never miss a thing. Sign up to Yahoo Lifestyle’s daily newsletter.
Or if you have a story idea, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.