Documentary

The Thin-skinned

Russia.

People having various skin problems and conditions share their experiences,
search the common and the differences in their perceptions of beauty, true
self, others. By means of photography we have accomplished the ‘mapping’ of
our bodies to bring a brand new look on the skin — as the story of our lives
and the landscape of a whole new world.
Here are the stories of growing, both personal and universal: about childhood
bullying and adult criticism, teenage self-identification and parental anxiety,
personal borders and openness to the world…. All the important things for
those who have skin.

Psōriasis

Sonya
Vladivostok – Moscow

Now I am so thankful for not being trapped into a misleading belief that my skin condition makes me worthless, or one must deserve love. The idea of a rare person or the only one who will see a true different beauty in you can break anyone. Yet my loved ones seemed to know everything without asking, and that was really precious.

I have been struggling with various skin conditions all my life, and it was my family who had to fight it initially.
The first inflammations of psoriasis came when I was a teen. Those years were painful and tough but they always are, right? It boosted psoriasis eventually. There were showers of unsolicited advice and indelicacy which a teenager always finds hard to resist.
Sometimes I can ‘manage’ new inflammations causing them myself or going to remissions.  It gets better in summer. Or when I feel not anxious or tremendeous, but calm and accepting care.

Sonya. Vladivostok – Moscow
The idea of a rare person who will see a true different beauty in you can break anyone

Arzu (mother of Tamerlan)
Baku, Azerbaijan

A pediatrician told us it was just an alllergy, so we should put on some cream. Tamerlan was three years old. In spring of 2019 he got to the hospital having fever. He was prescriped with antibiotics and IV lines. They said it was some kind of a virus. Now the flares are getting bigger and bigger. There is a spot under the eye. It is more red and soft.
We have finally known the diagnosis, and it sounded more like a hideous injustice.

There was heavy rain out there, everything was messed up. I felt messed up. I cried. What I felt for my son and myself back then was depression.I have been searching all over the Internet ever since. Maybe there is a cure, maybe somebody recovered. It is called hope. Faith in God.

Tamerlan feels better now. He is turning away, confused, when someone asks what’s wrong with his face. I have learnt to talk about the desease with him. Now he is aware of more severe health problems existing, of psoriasis being more as a lifestyle.
I have become courageous. The child does not see me in my dismay. I feel empty. But I am strong. I just see life in my own shades. I just love my son. And cook for him with love.

Arzu (mother of Tamerlan) Baku, Azerbaijan
I have learnt to talk about the desease with my son
Nevus flammeus

Yury
Khimki, Moscow region

My story started from my birth. Before I was 5 years old, my skin did not bother me. But later I faced the difficulties of socializing in my kindergarden, primary school, swimming class. Children tend to be cruel sometimes. I recognised my otherness, I understood that there are people who care and support and those who do not miss an opportunity to make fun of you.
I got my own ‘jokes’ to stand against them: ” If you do not stop, I will scratch you, and you will become the same as me”, ” Yeap, I am half Hellboy”, etc.

For me beauty is when everyone feels good, everyone likes everything, no one suffers.
Petrol circles glitter on the surface of a river, but is it beauty we deserve? Or do we have to take it literally that beauty requires sacrifice? Any skin condition is a disease, and disease is a hard time.

Yury. Khimki, Moscow region
Yeap, I am half “Hellboy”

Yekaterina
Simferopol

When I was ten, they sent me to a health camp for a half a year. There were many children from disfunctional families. And there was bullying. Being a mollycoddle, I got really affected. Loneliness, despair, insults, fear. I tend to think my neurodermitis stems from it.
After almost 20 years of treatment I got used to my skin, now it looks considerably better. It is a part of me but also a constant reminder of that period of life. Yet I feel different. I learnt to be confident and resilient. Beauty is a human kindness.Like that ‘fire flickerig in the vessel’, the way Nikolay Zabolotsky put it in ‘An ugly girl’. I do not like when beauty is drawn, not emphasized. I do not put on makeup. I like skin imperfections but only if they do not cause physical discomfort. So I truly cherish wrinkles, scars, spots, freckles, etc.

Neurodermatitis.Yekaterina. Simferopol

Svetlana
Ramenskoye, Moscow region

I have had this condition for 19 years. It was my second pregnacy when it started, on the knees.What did I feel? No feelings.
I had a goal – to bear a child and give birth.
I did not understand it was psoriasis until it started to spread over my arms and legs.Of course I stressed out. But I was lucky: my friends and family were sympathetic, they did not make a big deal of it.
Now I am calm with it. Maybe I just got used to it. I love my skin the way it is. Of course I feel more confident when the flare is gone. So I can wear short sleeves, shorts… I do not hide the fact I have psoriasis.If you ask the question, then you will have the answer.After 19 years I have learnt to live with it. Befriended it. So my skin condition never affects my mood.

Psōriasis. Svetlana. Ramenskoye, Moscow region

Alla
Saint Petersburg

I live with hyperpigmentation caused by lichen ruber planus which I suffered from at the age of 25. First the long process of dignostics, then treatment, and the results of it 9 months after. I was scared it would never end. Could not undestand why it even occurred. It seemed to me that everybody was staring.
I wanted to live in a spacesuit.
Now I get paranoid everytime I have a tiny itchy pimple. It feels like the disease is going to return right away. My skin is both alien and my very own. Recently it belongs to me more. I have understood I differ from others. Currently on my way of self-acceptance. Such problems like this have just become a part of life. But still I envy those people who have clear skin.

Lichen ruber planus. Alla. Saint Petersburg

Alexander
Vinnytsia, Ukraine

I have had vitiligo since I was seven. Being a child I did not care, but in my teenage years a bunch of various negative emotions occurred. Teenagers are always criritical to themselves and to the world, I was not an exception. Then I convinced myself I had to find someone to marry among the gilrs with the same problem as me. I was surprised when I saw them showing no sign of inferiority complex and self-pity at all!

For me physical beauty is about figure: when it is athletic, when posture is good. Skin problems can be hidden, it is easy now. Of course, beauty is about neatness too. That makes it possible to express one’s internal beauty which is much more important than any physical imperfections.

Vitiligo. Alexander. Vinnytsia, Ukraine

Sofia Grineva

Visual storyteller (rus, eng, 中文).

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