Skin care is a place where people of color are often ignored.
Racist behavior is disrupting society at a structural level, including the way our healthcare system runs.
Colorism — the preferential treatment of lighter-colored skin and demonization or dismissal of darker skin — is just one of the ways this shows up, especially when it comes to media representation.
The correlation between what is seen in media and skin concerns from her clients is something that has been seen by Adeline Kikam.
This is where her platform @brownskinderm comes in.
In her talk, she talks about how her passion for Black representation in the skin care space started in childhood, and how she experiences a lack of treatment options for melanated skin.
She never saw the packaging of the products that treat the skin problems of black people.
She wondered if the options available would work for her when she searched for solutions for her own scars. I had years of insecurity in my own skin. I avoided low neck and backless dresses for a long time.
I was not sure how to care for my skin as a Black woman.
“When she went into the medical field, she was drawn to the field because of her personal experiences, and her training led to conversations with other people about their skin concerns that weren’t adequately being addressed.”
She noticed that there were not many Black-led skin care focused social media accounts. She created her IG account, called brownskinderm.
Brown Skin Derm is more than just a social media account.
It is a platform that aims to combat this lack of representation of health care professionals and skin condition through building trust, credibility, and re-establishing Black providers as thought leaders in their respective fields.
“The Brown Skin Derm Platform is an extension of what I feel is my commitment as a physician of color specializing in skin to make sure we are represented from a beauty but more importantly dermatologic health perspective.”
Brown Skin has goals.
- The presence of black medical professionals is increasing.
- How providers connect with their clients through social media is being redefined.
- The way beauty has been defined in our society has been changed.
She wants to use Brown Skin Derm to advocate for accurate representation of people of color in the larger discussion on skincare.
She started her page in the year of 2017: she was encouraged to continue it after seeing the positive response from her followers.
“Brown Skin Derm addresses representation and more accessible information, but it also addresses how many Black people aren’t able to access skin-focused healthcare.”
The community of Black and Brown people inspired me to create a service that would allow them to get dermatologic care.
The launch of the Brown Skin Derm Consult site and the Skinclusive Dermatology platform was prompted by this.
The new chapter gives me the chance to connect with my ever-growing community on a deeper patient-doctor level.
While following me on social media is a great way for them to have reliable evidence based information, I also realize that access to dermatologic care continues to be a major barrier to care.
The problem of colorism in media representation is not a lost cause.
The importance of inclusion is not only for marketing and media companies.
“It is important to highlight issues that disproportionately affect communities of color because they are forgotten or not prioritized because they don’t affect the larger population of people.”
A team that is diverse is associated with higher ratings in terms of satisfaction, trust, adherence to care, and also fosters culturally competent healthcare delivery and inclusivity.
The Brown Skin Derm platform is trying to create an inclusion media presence, but also hopes to create a shared value system with the people who use it.
“The skin care expert wants to increase the Black community’s access to evidence-based information within the skin care industry by promoting equity, inclusivity, and representation within healthcare.”
Addressing The Lack Of Black Doctors In The Dermatology Field
She shared that she was initially hesitant to share her story openly, but has since realized that her speaking candidly about her experiences has a major impact.
Because only 3% of dermatology students are Black, this includes encouraging other Black medical students to push past the current lacking statistics.
She says she talks freely about her journey and struggles as a black woman in one of the least diverse subspecialties in medicine. It is an effective way of inspiring minority medical students to pursue a career in medicine.
“People of color everywhere demand to see themselves reflected in the way skin care is discussed and beauty is portrayed. They want inclusion but not assimilation.”
Shedding Light On Conditions With Racial Disparities and Myths
The work is focused on increasing access to education and encouraging open conversations about skin conditions that affect Black people.
For example, she mentioned conditions like Hidradenitis Suppurativa — a painful chronic inflammatory condition that results in draining abscesses and scarring. noting how that affects Black women at a higher rate than other demographics.
Kikam is also adamant about the overall representation of BIPOC folks within skin health awareness pushes, citing the harmful narrative around melanated skin not needing sunscreen. When in reality, unprotected and prolonged exposure to UV rays can have negative effects for anyone.
The myth has been shown in the media through sunscreen ads and media around skin cancer advocacy lacking in darker-skinned people and an overall gap in education around sun protection.
“When we do get skin cancers, it is worth knowing also that we have the
Brown Skin Derm has a hand in uplifting the needs for melanated and decreasing the presence of harmful narratives.
The goal of the social media platform is to spread education, empowering communities of color, and squashing harmful narratives, all with the hopes of being able to offer in-person and virtual services.
She hopes that the skin care culture continues to evolve and be more representative of people of color who have traditionally been left out.