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Confidence?  How about ‘Swimming Teacher’
from Teresa

Ed:  My name is Teresa and I am from Los Angeles. I am 23 and I have been a flake since I was in the best grade to get something so lovely — 8th GRADE!!! Ack! I recently became a member of NPF and got turned on to your site by a newsletter. I love the "Don't Say This" page and love the Flake Jargon stuff as well.

After reading the most recent (last month) transcript of NPF chats I started thinking. I guess I am pretty darn lucky. I convinced myself when I started clearing to the point where just my elbows and knees (and scalp, I guess) were heavily effected, to wear short sleeves and eventually got myself into shorts and skirts. I guess I have to say that I have not been without odd and inappropriate comments but I can say that I am lucky to feel confident enough to wear these.

You want to hear about confidence? Two years ago I interviewed to be a swimming teacher. The boss didn't bother to notice anything about me (although I was wearing short sleeves during the interview) until I was about to take my first lesson. He stopped, startled and said, "Uh, what is on your elbow?" I said, "Just extra skin, it is psoriasis, not a big deal. Why?" He asked me to cover it up and I flat out said no. Guess who was the most popular swimming coach? Guess who was voted best swimming teacher two years in a row? Me! I could not have done that in a big wet shirt, and it would not have covered much anyway. (By the way the bromine in the water "burned" all my extra skin off- much like it destroyed the elastic in my bathing suit- and cleared my skin but would only last for a week. I don't know if there is any research about this chemical but it is worth a look).

I work with at an elementary school as a Teacher's Assistant and a yard duty supervisor. Everyday a kid asks me , "What's wrong with your elbow?" or "Ewww, what is THAT???"  or some other annoying question. It is a chink in the armor but I guess it is good for me.

My point is to inspire your readers. Get out in the sun, slather on some Vitamin E and don't force yourself into sweaters in July. Get a date. Go swimming. You can do it. I was a flaker from head to toe. It all went into remission after I got very, very ill and I was not willing to alter my lifestyle again. Good thing because it has never gone away completely. I am so lucky to have a family that attempts to make me feel okay about myself without ignoring the issue. I am blessed to have a boyfriend that kissed my first spot that appeared after being ill. All of you can be lucky too if you are willing to get out there and believe that you are you and not your skin. I know it is different for all of us, but we are here for each other.

Would you like my list of ridiculous things people have said to me?

I only have my flakiness on my scalp, elbows, and knees. Some ADULT said: “Oh my GOD! What is wrong with your HAND? " I smiled and said, "Nothing.”  What an idiot. Why do people feel the need to do that?  

My boss after two years: "Whoa, what happened, are you okay? What is that? Did you fall?"

Best thing ever said: A 2nd grader would follow me around and explain my skin every five seconds to all the kids who would ask. She would stroke my elbow and say, "See, it's just skin. No big deal. I'm not getting it. So, drop it already." That kid ROCKS!!

Best of luck and keep up the great work.  Thanks, -Teresa


Ed’s Response:  Thanks for the story and the anecdotes, Teresa.  I concur completely, your 2nd grade shadow defender does, indeed, ROCK!!!  The rest of your eloquent email needs no embellishment from me.  You showed a rare courage becoming a swimming teacher.  And look how you succeeded!  There’s a success story I’ll be pointing to for a long time to come. 

Keep the Pace, T!  -Ed

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