A skin friendly edit of les girls les boys staples that are soft, gentle, and kind to the body.
The journey of body positivity is hard, long, and a recurring battle. Summer can be a particularly triggering time, a time when we reveal our bodies more than we usually would. At les girls les boys, we value being comfortable with who you truly are. It’s why our garments are made to feel incredible against the body, working with instead of against you. Izzy Utterson’s body positivity journey inspires us, so we invited her to select a special edit of our garments to share with the les girls les boys community.
Izzy was diagnosed with psoriasis at the age of 21, an autoimmune system condition that, for no apparent reason, launches an inflammatory response against the body. Approximately 2 to 3% of the world's population has the condition. It targets joints and skin, resulting in either permanent or intermittent ‘flare-ups’ of sore, itchy, built-up and broken skin, or inflamed joints, anywhere and everywhere around the body. There are many different types of psoriasis, affecting the way the overactive skin cells develop. They vary in severity, ranging from less severe forms of plaque psoriasis (accounting for up to 90% of cases), usually found in patches on places like shins and elbows, to more uncommon variants that can cover the majority of the body or appear in particularly delicate places such as underarms. Izzy has pustular psoriasis, the most painful form of the condition, that appears across her body, meaning it particularly affects what she wears.
Psoriasis is not curable, but it is manageable, affecting people psychologically as much as it does physically. It often first occurs between the ages of 15 to 25, when we are at the most delicate stages of building confidence.
"Know that it will always get better. It’s so hard, especially in the middle of a flare, to remember what it’s like to have clear skin or feel positive. We have to be kind to our bodies in order for them to heal."
Izzy’s been finding what works for her and how she can be the most comfortable in her skin. Now 23 and living in London, having graduated a year ago from King’s College London with a degree in liberal arts, majoring in history, she’s left a full-time job to launch her own podcast, X With A Hidden Illness - speaking to people living with chronic and, what she terms as ‘hidden’, illnesses, including autoimmune diseases.
Here, she talks to us about the podcast, body positivity, what it's like to live with psoriasis, and her edit...
Why did you start X With A Hidden Illness podcast, and what do you talk about with your guests?
I started the podcast because I felt the narrative around chronic illness and their impact on physical and mental health were not being discussed enough. When I first experienced psoriasis, I didn’t know if how I was feeling was ‘normal’. I wanted to open the dialogue between chronically ill people to compare how we felt, how our lives were affected, and ultimately to feel less alone. I want people suffering with hidden illnesses to be heard, and for people who don’t have these conditions to know what life is actually like for us. Speaking to others with hidden illnesses has been so inspiring to me. They’re all strong and incredible.
What does body positivity mean to you?
Since being diagnosed with psoriasis my concept of body positivity has changed dramatically. It's no longer so much about how I look to others, but more how I feel in my own skin. It’s about feeling comfortable and positive that I’m treating my body in the most loving and caring way I can.
What does it mean practically in terms of the clothes you wear, the places you go, and the relationships you have with other people?
In terms of clothing, I focus primarily on comfort. Soft and seamless fabrics are essential, particularly so when I’m experiencing a ‘flare’, which is when my condition gets worse. I look for clothes that help me go and do as I would usually do - like see my friends and so on - and feel comfortable. I want to feel comfortable but also look good, and it's tough to find clothing that does both. It’s why I love les girls les boys so much.
Tell us about the les girls les boys’ garments you’ve selected to feature, and why?
The best place to begin with comfort is underwear, and the seamfree underwear is heavenly. It’s the most lightweight underwear I’ve ever worn.
Bras are an issue for me as I have a fuller bust but underwire and fabrics often rub against and irritate my skin, and so the seamfree thongs, briefs, bodysuits and bras are my go-to.
The fine rib henley tops keep me warm whilst letting my skin breathe, and they don’t itch or irritate my skin even when I’m experiencing a flare up which is really hard to find in a fitted long sleeve top.
Leggings and workout tops can irritate my skin so I’ve been wearing the cotton shorts and cotton crop drawstring t-shirt. They're perfect for a jog or at-home workout.
The bodysuits look great under a pair of jeans or a skirt. They’re super versatile, acting as an underwear and an outerwear, solving the bra issue!
If I’m experiencing a flare on the back of my legs any kind of jeans or trousers really rub and make it impossible to walk without being in pain. The fitted track pants are a great alternative for me when this happens. They look smart enough to pass for work attire, whilst giving my legs a chance to breathe and heal without being in pain all day.
How are you managing to keep on top of your wellbeing and health during lockdown, both physically and mentally?
I’ve been taking this time to really take care of myself, exercise, eat well and be kind to my body and mind. It’s really important to get into a routine. I try to wake up at the same time most days, and exercise. I’ve been taking care of my skin by using all-natural products, drinking plenty of water and trying to relax as much as possible. I’d recommended setting daily goals, even if they’re small you feel so accomplished by the end of the day.
What is your advice to anyone struggling with any form of skin condition, illness or body positivity?
Know that it will always get better. It’s so hard, especially in the middle of a flare, to remember what it’s like to have clear skin or feel positive. I remind myself that it will all be okay, and to stay as calm as possible. If there is anything I’ve learned from developing psoriasis it’s that we have to be kind to our bodies in order for them to heal. Equally, we can’t be hard on ourselves if we have setbacks. It's so damaging to blame yourself. Instead, take a deep breath and make the decision to get back on track and be kind to yourself, and to focus on your body healing. Positivity will come naturally once we decide to be kinder to our bodies and our minds.