Finding the Beauty in the Imperfection of Eczema


By Karey Gauthier

Published On: Sep 18, 2018

Last Updated On: Jul 15, 2021

The Japanese tradition of kintsugi (or kintsukuroi) is the practice of repairing broken pottery with lacquer mixed with powdered gold, silver or platinum. It treats damage and repair as a part of the history of the item, something that adds to the object’s beauty rather than something to disguise.

Founded in the Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi, which is a worldview centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection, kintsugi demonstrates an appreciation for asymmetry, roughness and simplicity—much like the asymmetry, cracking and roughness that comes with eczema.

In both kintsugi and wabi-sabi, there is a belief that from (perceived) imperfection—cracks, pain, roughness—comes strength and beauty. It is in this belief that we ask our community to join NEA in our commitment to #UnhideEczema during Eczema Awareness Month in October.

We want to show the world what eczema really looks like. To us, it looks like the woman wearing a business suit to work, whose eczema can’t be seen because it is only on her arms and legs, but it still kept her from sleeping the night before.

It looks like the 13-year-old boy who chooses video games over sports and books over bike riding. It’s the same boy who never fails to impress you with his ability to articulate his experiences because he is wise beyond his years.

It looks like everyone’s favorite uncle, whose facial eczema adds years to his appearance, even though he is the youngest at heart, who is always quick with a smile or joke and ready to play. It’s the same man who chose not to have children of his own because he didn’t want them to inherit his eczema.

It looks like the little girl who is bright red from head to toe and can’t stop scratching her unbearably itchy skin. It’s the same girl who receives fearful glances from strangers because they assume whatever she has is contagious, when the only contagious thing about her is her joy at riding the hotel elevator alone.

When we tell our stories, show our cracks and roughness, we become empowered. We heal the invisible cracks in our hearts. And we do the same for the people watching. Unhide beauty. Unhide strength. Unhide power. Unhide brilliance. Unhide love. Unhide joy. Unhide peace. #UnhideEczema.

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