Mental health advocate Kaitlyn Figueroa promotes a breakthrough documentary, LAVENDER, at Astoria Film Festival [AFF]. Powerful and poignant. Hidradenitis Suppurativa [HS] is a condition that causes painful bumps deep in the skin: groin, armpits, and chest. For decades, people have suffered from this debilitating disease. It is chronic, frequently misdiagnosed, and, in many cases, swept under the rug. Since adolescence, Kaitlyn has been fighting the disease: at a laser hair removal session, she’s badly burned. She is confronted with violent partners and teased by family members.
What started as a pimple soon became a pus-filled cyst that finally burst and bled, resulting in their reclusiveness. Ultimately, their PTSD became susceptible to public ridicule. Further, if surgically removed, it reappeared.
The film has turned our hearts upside down. It sheds light on the reasons why a member of the troop, Justin Osborne Lowery, would hesitate to engage in intensive training. With no cure in sight and medical facilities overflowing, once both have appeared on the screen, the narrative takes a pivot. With more than 4% worldwide of people suffering from HS, viewers learn that this autoimmune disease largely impacts the biracial and BIPOC communities. It’s highly likely that this docudrama will propel HS into mainstream media.
Needless to say, Figueroa and Lowery are optimistic that it will sensitize and promote body positivity. With the spread of disinformation, this is wrongly compared to infectious STDs (i.e., herpes, HIV).