When the medication (Raptiva) she was taking was discontinued in 2009, English decided to be photographed during a flare-up to help others with psoriasis.
English then started taking Stelara, a psoriasis medication. (The drug's maker funded the shoot. English is now a paid spokesperson for the company.)
Here are before-and-after photos from that flare-up. English is now the host of the reality show Pretty Wicked.
2 of 5Photographer Peter Svenson
“I wanted to run and hide”
About five months after stopping treatment, English was covered in red, scaly plaques.
She was especially self-conscious about her hands, which hadn’t really been affected by psoriasis before.
Stepping in front of the camera in that condition was not easy. “I felt completely vulnerable and wanted to run and hide,” says the 25-year-old, “(but) I just kept picturing all the men and women who’d see these pictures and hopefully gain some motivation from this.”
3 of 5Photographer Peter Svenson
It had to be “empowering”
In the months after discontinuing treatment, English avoided the media, staying on the sidelines of life.
“I knew I didn’t want anyone capturing my psoriasis in a way that wasn’t empowering,” she says, “There were already some red-carpet pictures of my scars with comments like ‘CariDee’s legs are beat!’ That hurt.”
During the photo shoot of herself covered in plaques, English struggled to keep her confidence.
4 of 5Photographer Peter Svenson
“It was great to get back on that runway”
A month after her flare-up was photographed, English started treatment with Stelara.
Three months later, English faced the camera for a second photo shoot in a very different state.
“It was great to get back on that runway, to have the old CariDee come back,” English says.
5 of 5Photographer Peter Svenson
“You’ve got to embrace it”
Posing in front of the camera after restarting treatment, English had more than just the clear skin that helped her cinch America’s Next Top Model.
“Now I had so much more knowledge within me,” she says. She knew that “Whatever you have, you’ve got to embrace it.”
For English, the key was to balance the energy she put toward her psoriasis with an even greater energy toward her love of modeling.
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