What a Photo Shoot With Snakes Reminded Me About Skin

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by Lena Riedl |

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The skin is the body’s largest organ, with a total surface area of about 22 square feet. The skin protects us from microbes and the elements, helps regulate body temperature, and permits the sensations of touch, heat, and cold.

In my case, my skin is “special.” I live with epidermolysis bullosa (EB), a rare skin condition that makes skin so fragile it easily blisters or rips.

A while ago, to celebrate my unique skin, I had a really fun shoot with a very talented photographer and some strange guests: snakes. I liked the idea of using snakes to explore the topic of skin because they have very special skin as well.

Lena Riedl with snake. (Photo by Ricarda Ravena)

Protection of body and mind

The first thing that came to my mind when thinking about skin was that although it basically exists to protect us, in the case of those living with EB, it is the other way around.

We have to take care of our skin. The roles are reversed. In order to be OK, to have as little pain as possible, we must be careful. We need to find a way to live our life and do the things we love with minimal stress for our skin.

Can you see me?

With skin being the biggest organ, it is very hard to hide it, especially during hot summers. As I discussed in a previous column, summer can be a big challenge for me because although I have accepted my skin, scars, and bandages as a part of who I am, it still is hard sometimes to show my skin out there in the open and be stared at for looking different.

The resemblance of nature

There are some similarities between snakes and me. Some people might find my skin fascinating and beautiful. (While walking my dog, I met a young girl who complimented my legs and scars as being very special and beautiful, which made my evening!) But many people are unsure how to feel about my skin when looking at me.

Before I first held a snake in my hand, I was very reluctant and unsure, too. They are fascinating creatures, but I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. But when I left my doubts and prejudice behind, I realized that their skin is very soft and has a special feeling to it. When I looked closely and took time to perceive the unique pattern, I realized just how amazing nature is.

Lena Riedl with snake. (Photo by Ricarda Ravena)

Accept uniqueness

I wish that human skin would also be perceived that way: as special, unique, soft, interesting, and beautiful. Something that comes in many different styles and colors. I want all different skins out there to be accepted for what they are: special and different, in a good way.

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Note: Epidermolysis Bullosa Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Epidermolysis Bullosa Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to epidermolysis bullosa.

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