Get Your Skin Out founder Holly Dillon is dedicated to ending stigmas and empowering others through sharing her personal experiences with psoriasis
By Partner Content
In a world where smooth skin has become a normalized benchmark of beauty, from glossy magazine covers to close-ups on screen, living with visible skin conditions can feel isolating. For Holly Dillon, an integral part of challenging societal and cultural stigmas was building a community for others to feel seen and supported.
“I was in need of more support and answers. I wanted a place where I could feel seen and connect with people who could relate to my experiences,” says Dillon, who created Get Your Skin Out to raise positive and informative awareness of people living with visible skin conditions.
“I live with psoriasis. I was first diagnosed with guttate psoriasis at age 14,” she shares of her skin condition, which includes symptoms of small, red patches on her body.
At age 20, a dermatologist declared that there were no medical treatment options available to her. “The news was absolutely devastating, especially considering psoriasis is a chronic, lifelong autoimmune condition,” Dillon recalls. “From exclusion diets to picking certain clothes to the effects on mental health and navigating sex — living with a visible skin condition is multifaceted. I needed support.”
For years, Dillon chronicled her experiences on social media by using the hashtag #getyourskinout with the hope of connecting with others facing similar skin conditions. It then grew into a campaign followed by thousands, along with a photo-sharing outlet for uplifting communication about psoriasis, vitiligo, stretch marks, hyperpigmentation and scars.
“Get Your Skin Out humanizes people beyond their conditions. It celebrates the person, the journey and serves as the vital intersection needed to bridge skin conditions and people’s lived experiences in the wider world,” she says.
“In a society where skin conditions like psoriasis are often deemed ‘ugly’ or solely medicalized, we risk missing the person behind it all,” Dillon warns, noting that nearly 125 million people worldwide have psoriasis, including more than 8 million people in the U.S. “Get Your Skin Out reminds us that every individual has a unique story that deserves to be heard and embraced.”
As popular as social media continues to be, visibility in traditional media also matters. “The entertainment industry has a profound influence on society and is a part of actively shaping our culture and perceptions,” Dillon says. “By supporting initiatives like Get Your Skin Out, Hollywood can play a pivotal role in normalizing and diversifying who and what we see on screen.”
Dillon hopes the industry commits to casting actors with skin conditions in relevant roles, collaborating with advocacy groups, avoiding the use of prosthetics or makeup to simulate visible skin conditions, and “ensuring that everyone, regardless of their appearance, can see themselves on screen and in the stories being told.”
“It is important to normalize characters with visible skin conditions and ensure that skin conditions are not used to stigmatize those characters,” says Dr. Mary Sommerlad, a London-based dermatologist. “People in the public arena living with visible skin conditions are really powerful, especially as those watching and following them can relate. It also shows that skin conditions can affect anyone, regardless of money, power, influence or fame.”
Sommerlad, who praises Get Your Skin Out as a “safe space to explore visible skin conditions” and an “incredibly valuable resource for people living with visible skin conditions,” adds: “The fact that Get Your Skin Out is also developed by Holly, who lives with a visible skin condition, is even more powerful because of the relatability.”
Dillon vows to continue to advocate for change and challenge public perceptions. Starting on Oct. 29, which is also World Psoriasis Day, Dillon will take over 50 digital screens in New York City via LinkNYC to promote Get Your Skin Out.
“Get Your Skin Out stands as an exemplary model of how mass sharing can catalyze a profound cultural shift,” she underscores. “Through the power of collective narratives and individual stories, it paves the way for societal transformation, challenging existing norms and fostering inclusivity and understanding”
Dillon also invites the entertainment industry to “step up and be part of the change,” aptly declaring: “Hollywood, what are you waiting for — get your skin out!”
A Variety and iHeartRadio Podcast
The Business of Entertainment