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Do You Fear Discrimination at the Spa?

It was 2014, late fall, and I was stressed. I had just separated from my soon-to-be ex-husband a few months prior, I was living with a friend trying to pick up the pieces of my disheveled life, and I had just been laid off from my job. Depression was in the driver seat of my life, and isolation and defeat were trailing close behind.

My body was also covered with flaky, inflamed patches of dry skin due to psoriasis. However, amid everything else going on at the time, the stress of psoriasis took a back seat, that is, until I decided to go to the spa for some much-needed relaxation.

I drove about 45 mins to Jeju Sauna, a famous 24-hour spa in Georgia. This spa is a gender-segregated traditional Korean public bathhouse, where customers walk around in the nude. I was determined to get the relaxation I was in dire need for. At the moment, I hadn’t thought that deeply about my psoriasis. There were times my mind blocked out the fact I had a visible skin disease to the point I was in denial. I guess it was my minds way of helping me to feel normal (even if for a moment) as if I didn’t have psoriasis. I hadn’t thought about baring it all in front of strangers. All I knew is I needed a break, and the spa was an excellent place to start.

As I approached closer to the spa, my anxiety grew stronger. What would other customers in the resort think? Would my masseuse be grossed out? Would I be asked to leave? I arrived, parked, took a deep breath, and walked into the spa house with tears swimming in my eyes. I felt scared, embarrassed, and insecure, and I hadn’t even stepped inside yet.

I walked up to the counter where the host was checking people in and taking payments. As my stomach grew in knots, I whispered nervously to him, “Umm… Do you all take people with psoriasis,” I stuttered. He advised that they did and they have people with skin conditions all the time. I thanked him and told him I had to go back to my car to grab something.

I got in my car and went home. The fear of the possible looks, stares, and mean comments from strangers was too much for me to bare. As I drove, I broke down in tears. I felt defeated. Once again, I allowed psoriasis to steal a pure joy I so desperately needed.

I just wanted to be normal. I wanted the ability to walk into a place and indulge in a joy of life, such as a spa, without having to worry about the potential consequences of being “free.”

Have you ever feared going to the salon or spa due to your psoriasis or another condition of the skin? 

The show “What Would You Do” is a situational hidden camera television program… They place unsuspecting people in situations to see how they will respond. On this episode, a woman with vitiligo faces discrimination at a nail salon.

This episode really triggered some old feelings and fears, and although the person who was discriminating against the woman with vitiligo was an actress playing a part, these negative and hurtful sentiments from others is a real reality that many of us with skin conditions face.

Have you ever been discriminated against at a spa or nail salon? Did strangers come to your aid? How do you feel about going to places such as these when you are flaring?