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Psoriasis Gave Me Major Body Image Issues. Here’s How I Overcame Them

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tikeyah varner,  psoriasis


The summer after eighth grade, I noticed some dry, flaky patches of skin on my scalp. When they didn’t go away after a few weeks, I started panicking. I went to the doctor, but he didn’t know what it was. But they were very obvious along my hairline on the top of my forehead, and I was laser-focused on one fact: High school was about to begin, and I wasn’t looking my best.

Those early teenage years are such a pivotal point, when even the littlest things—let alone a visible skin disease—can really mess with your self-confidence. Determined to fix it, I went to multiple doctors. Most told me I had dermatitis (a skin irritation) and prescribed a medicated shampoo. That helped, but the patches never fully went away, so I tried to mask them with hair extensions.

When I was 16, I was finally diagnosed with psoriasis—an immune disorder that causes skin cells to multiply up to 10 times faster than they should, creating itchy, scaly patches. It took longer to figure out what it was because on my African American skin, my spots weren’t red and inflamed, as they would have been if I was fair skinned.

Tikeya Varner has had to battle the body image challenges of living with psoriasis.

Tikeya Varner

Feeling completely exposed

When I got to college, patches started to develop elsewhere on my skin. I’d have a flare on my back, then it’d get under control. Then patches would show up on my arms, and when they went away, they’d show up on my legs. This happened all through college.

When it was time to shop for a fancy dress, I knew I’d not only have to find a dress I liked, but one that would cover my flares. Looking at dresses on a rack, I’d have to think, “I can show my arms, but I need to cover my back.” That thinking dictated what would buy. It was exhausting.

One day my senior year, I had a very bad breakout on my face—and there was just no way to hide it. I don’t think anything can prepare you for someone looking you in the eyes and asking, “What’s wrong with your skin?” I didn’t know how to react, so I cried.

It was hard to believe people could see me without seeing my psoriasis.

Having visible plaques (the technical term for the patches) on my face made it hard to believe people could see me without seeing my psoriasis. After all, how could they not see my plaques if the light spots all over my brown skin were so obvious?

My solution—which honestly really wasn’t a solution at all—was to avoid social outings as much as I could—not easy when there are projects to present, job fairs to attend, and plenty of parties to go to.

I even spent energy hiding my condition from my best friend—to the point that I’d change in the bathroom when we were getting ready to go out so that she wouldn’t see my plaques or blemishes.

It was so hard hiding something like this from her. One day, it just got too hard, so I opened up. She was immediately so understanding—and helped me realize that when she looked at me, my psoriasis wasn’t what she saw. This was a breakthrough moment, and made me realize that my disease was a way bigger deal to me than everyone else.

Reclaiming control

With the newfound support of my best friend, I decided to take charge. I started researching common triggers myself and discovered that stress and certain foods can cause flares. So I started changing my habits, especially learning to control high-stress situation—and it worked. That feeling of empowerment made me feel more confident and comfortable in my body.

psoriasis, tikeyah varner

For years, Varner wondered if psoriasis was the only thing people saw when they looked at her.

Tikeyah Varner

The year after I graduated from college, my mom found a walk sponsored by the National Psoriasis Foundation in Atlanta, where we live, so we went. Up until that point, I had only really talked my condition with a handful of people, but the event gave me the chance to connect with others with psoriasis.

That day was the first time I felt like I could truly relate to other people.

I suddenly was part of this group of people who knew exactly what I was talking about—they immediately became friends. I asked them what was working for them and talked about what was working for me too. We also chatted so easily about things that other people without psoriasis just don’t understand. It was liberating. That day was my second real psoriasis breakthrough moment: the first time I felt like I could truly relate to other people.

The following year, I started my own team and fundraised.

Accepting my condition

I’d be lying if I said I never wonder if my psoriasis is the first thing people notice when they see me. In fact, more often than not, that thought crosses my mind if I have a flare and I’m interacting with someone other than my husband.

tikeyah varner, psoriasis

Varner is now a mom—with a second child on the way—and doesn’t let her disease get in the way of her daily life.

Tikeyah Varner

Despite those insecure moments, I’m so much more confident than I was before. In fact, there are times I choose not to cover up my psoriasis—and when that happens, the feeling is pure liberation. In those moments, I may have psoriasis, but my psoriasis doesn’t have me.

I may have psoriasis, but my psoriasis doesn’t have me.

In the past year, COVID hasn’t been great for my stress, which as I now understand is a known trigger of psoriasis flares. At the beginning of the pandemic, the uncertainties caused me to have a pretty bad breakout. But now I prioritize making time for things that relax me, like taking a bath, deep breathing, and drinking green tea. As a wife and a mom to a one-year-old daughter (with another baby on the way!), I know stress is inevitable. But now I’m able to better manage it.

More than anything, my psoriasis has been a teacher—something that has shown me the importance of being myself. Now, I’m able to trust that my character will shine through any kind of flare.

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Fashion

35 Unforgettable Royal Wedding Scandals, Shockers, and Bizarre Moments

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35 Unforgettable Royal Wedding Scandals, Shockers, and Bizarre Moments


Princess Stéphanie of Monaco married her bodyguard.

Grace Kelly’s daughter, Princess Stéphanie, tied the knot with Daniel Ducruet, who had previously been assigned as her bodyguard. When the couple wed, they already had two children together. At the time, The Associated Press described Ducruet as “a former pet shop salesman and fishmonger known to have a hot temper,” and noted that Stéphanie’s father, Rainier III, opposed the love connection. The wedding took place on July 1, 1995, at Monaco Town Hall. However, little more than a year later, the marriage ended in divorce when, per the AP, Ducruet “was caught by paparazzi in a poolside romp with a Belgian stripper.”

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All of Queen Rania of Jordan’s Best Fashion Moments

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the king and queen of jordan will visit the basilica of st francis of assisi


Franco OrigliaGetty Images

Since her husband, Abdullah II, became the King of Jordan in 1999, Queen Rania of Jordan has been hard at work. The Queen is best known for her advocacy in public health and education, as well as her supremely trendy sense of style. Throughout the years, Rania has proven that her sartorial tastes are impeccable. She has a penchant for monochromatic looks and pops of color, but also knows her way around a neutral palette. Read on for 63 of her best royal style moments here.

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April 17, 2019

Rania stepped out in a casual tank and pants combo during a tour of Jordan, and brightened it up with a coral jacket.

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March 29, 2019

For a visit to the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, the Queen wore a collared navy midi dress, a trendy Louis Vuitton handbag, and added dainty silver earrings.

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March 29, 2019

While visiting French President Emmanuel Macron, Queen Rania wore this bold monochrome look, which features a pleated midi dress and a tailored leather jacket.

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October 14, 2018

The Queen stunned in a belted pinstripe midi dress for the state opening of Jordan’s Parliament.

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June 25, 2018

On a visit to the White House with her husband, Rania wore a flowy blush pantsuit with a matching purse and pumps.

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May 22, 2018

Rania wore a gorgeous grey-blue pleated turtleneck dress to her daughter Princess Salma’s graduation.

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March 21, 2018

Rania chose a tailored grey blazer, turtleneck, and crisp white pants for a visit to the Netherlands. Her suede heels and elaborate woven handbag were perfect complements to her neutral outfit.

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March 20, 2018

Queen Rania showed us that she isn’t afraid of a bold pop of color. Here, she wore a bright blue swing coat with statement buttons and a white neck scarf over her grey dress.

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November 11, 2017

For this look, Rania paired a simple white top with a brightly patterned pencil skirt and coral handbag.

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August 11, 2017

For the Sovereign’s Parade at the Royal Military Academy, the Queen chose a bright pink quilted princess coat and matching heels. She accessorized with a black purse and silver jewelry.

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May 21, 2017

Rania glowed at the Fashion for Relief event at Cannes, wearing a delicate white dress with lace details and simple jewelry. She posed for a photo with Princess Beatrice and Sarah, Duchess of York at the event.

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December 3, 2016

The Queen wore an elegant A-line gown with pink silk details to a gala in Germany.

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November 11, 2016

Rania chose a simple black blazer and pencil skirt, drawing attention to her intricate turtleneck, for the state opening of Parliament in Amman, Jordan.

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September 11, 2016

Queen Rania stepped out in a beautiful crimson and blue gown for the Celebrity Fight Night gala.

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June 2, 2016

Rania arrived at the Great Arab Revolt centennial wearing a deep teal dress with gold embroidery, turquoise drop earrings, a cream quilted clutch, and black heels.

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May 25, 2016

For Jordan’s 70th Independence Day, Rania chose a belted maroon top with an extravagant red and white detailed skirt, maroon heels and silver accessories.

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May 18, 2016

Rania wore a soft pink swing coat adorned with a floral detail and black kitten heels alongside the Queen of Belgium during a visit to Brussels.

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May 2, 2016

The Queen turned heads on the red carpet in a feathered gown dotted with delicate silver gems by Valentino at the Manus x Machina Costume Institute gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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January 8, 2016

During a visit to London, Rania wore a hot pink pencil dress with a complementary belted coat and black pointed-toe heels.

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November 20, 2015

While in Spain, the Queen wore a black and white striped accordion skirt, a white blouse, and a mahogany wide belt.

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November 19, 2015

Here, Rania paired a trendy leather pencil skirt with a patterned blouse for a visit to the Prado Media Lab cultural center in Madrid, Spain.

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November 19, 2015

Queen Rania walked with Queen Letizia of Spain on the airport tarmac as she arrives in Madrid, Spain for a royal visit. Rania’s chic ensemble proves that even after a long plane ride, the royal is glowing. This look features a simple sky blue dress, a red and white woven wrap coat, and glittery heels.

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September 25, 2015

For the UN Foundation’s Gender Equality Discussion, Rania stepped out in an all-white ensemble, but it’s far from dull. The detail in her top, her snakeskin clutch, and her reflective pointed-toe heels make this a style to remember.

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August 26, 2015

Rania and her daughter walked the red carpet for the Medef Summer University Conference. The Queen wore a simple A-line dress and accented it with a Louis Vuitton bag and strappy heels.

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May 19, 2014

Here Queen Rania wore a black and white patterned top, a black midi skirt with a sheer overlay, and pumps.

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March 12, 2013

Rania and Camilla Parker Bowles pose for a photo during Prince Charles and Camilla’s royal tour in Jordan. Rania chose a bright blue and white knee-length dress adorned with a flower, and pearl drop earrings for the occasion.

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May 18, 2012

Queen Rania chose a classic flattering dress for a dinner at Buckingham Palace. The celebration was held in honor of Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee, her 60th anniversary on the throne.

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May 18, 2012

Rania wore a white ruffled top with gold accents, paired with a fiery red pencil skirt, and her signature black pumps for an event at Windsor Castle in England. The royal was in town to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee.

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April 2, 2012

The Queen was glowing on a visit to the Royal Palace in Italy, wearing an embroidered double-breasted trench coat, peep-toe heels, and a sleek black purse.

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June 19, 2010

Rania stepped out in a purple gown—the color of royalty—paired with a tiara and sash for Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden and Daniel Westling’s royal wedding in Stockholm, Sweden.

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How Your Favorite Models Got Discovered

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How Your Favorite Models Got Discovered


Karlie Kloss

Long before walking the biggest shows at fashion week, Kloss walked a charity fashion show in her Missouri hometown. Then, at the age of 15, she made her New York Fashion Week debut on Calvin Klein’s runway.

“I was discovered at 13 in a mall in St. Louis. I had never been on an airplane, actually.” she told CBS in 2015.

Since, Kloss has walked every major runway in New York, London, Milan, and Paris—along with starring in campaigns for brands like Oscar de la Renta, Versace, and Diane von Furstenberg. In 2015, she partnered with Flatiron School and Code.org to create a scholarship program, Kode with Klossy, which supports young girls who are interested in computer science to become leaders in tech.

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