Book captures patients in artistic fashion

Ms Charlene Yong, who has psoriasis, with a fashion book she developed to combat stigmatisation of the condition. Called I'm Not Sick, it features psoriasis patients in clothes they wished to wear but did not dare to, and was done as her final-year p
Ms Charlene Yong, who has psoriasis, with a fashion book she developed to combat stigmatisation of the condition. Called I'm Not Sick, it features psoriasis patients in clothes they wished to wear but did not dare to, and was done as her final-year project at Temasek Polytechnic.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

One day when Ms Charlene Yong was 15, she went to collect a parcel wearing shorts and a woman asked her whether she had been abused at home.

The 21-year-old, who works as a production assistant in a film production house, has psoriasis, a skin condition she was diagnosed with when she was 14.

The condition appears as red patches down the back of her legs, arms and sometimes on her face.

"The condition didn't bother me much until this woman made her well-meaning comment," Ms Yong recounted.

"Her reaction told me that my skin looked scary and the patches looked like bruises."

She went home and threw away all her shorts, wearing only trousers for the next two years to cover up her legs.

"I had always liked nice clothes and now I had to wear things to hide myself," she said.

TURNING POINT

The condition didn't bother me much until this woman made her well-meaning comment... Her reaction told me that my skin looked scary.

MS CHARLENE YONG, on a stranger who thought she had been abused at home.

To highlight the struggles of psoriasis patients, Ms Yong decided early this year to create a fashion book for her final-year project at Temasek Polytechnic, where she was studying photography.

Called I'm Not Sick, the project involved photographing psoriasis patients in a way that was "artistic, not the sort of pictures of the skin condition on Google that make people cringe", she said.

Ms Yong also photographed her subjects in clothes they wished to wear, but did not dare to.

"This girl loved to wear skater dresses but because of psoriasis on her legs, she decided to wear boots and pants.

"But after my photoshoot, she felt confident and went back to wearing dresses. I want these people to look and feel good in what they wear and not have to hide themselves.

"Psoriasis really took a toll on me but now I know I'm not alone," she said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 05, 2017, with the headline 'Book captures patients in artistic fashion'. Print Edition | Subscribe