Hollywood is notorious for being all about smoke and mirrors when it comes to body image (and perceived flaws), but La La Anthony has had enough. She’s ready to talk to the world about her struggle with psoriasis, and is doing so by partnering with the National Psoriasis Foundation for their Picture Positivity campaign to spread awareness and encourage acceptance. She talked to PEOPLE about her past and present with the condition – as well as what she’s learned from BFF (and fellow psoriasis-sufferer) Kim Kardashian.

La La Anthony psoriasis

National Psoriasis Foundation/Picture Positivity

At the moment, Anthony might be one of the busiest working moms in the entertainment industry. In the past few months, she’s come out with a second novel (The Power Playbook, a follow-up to her New York Times best-seller, The Love Playbook), wrapped a Spike Lee movie, and landed a role as a series regular on A&E’s Unforgettable (all while hitting the town with her husband, NBA player Carmelo Anthony). And now she wants to add “activist” to her résumé.

“I’m all about trying to help others out there and giving the best advice based on my experiences — so if I can continue to do that, I’m really happy,” Anthony tells PEOPLE about her decision to team up with Picture Positivity. For nearly a decade, La La has struggled with psoriasis, an autoimmune condition that causes dry, red, itchy patches of skin. “About 10 years ago is when I first noticed it, and I didn’t know what it was,” she says. “I had it really bad in my scalp and behind my ears, but my scalp is where I suffer from it the worst.”

But despite frequently being photographed for work, Anthony hasn’t let the condition hold her back. “I’ve had this for a long time and I’ve still been able to go on and I’ve still been able to do all these amazing things, and I’ve never let psoriasis get in the way of any of that,” she says. “You don’t have to be ashamed, you don’t have to hide in the closet because of it, you can still live life and do amazing things, which is what the Picture Positivity campaign is all about.”

The actress does admit that there are certain challenges on the job, though she finds workarounds.. “I have my hair slicked all the way back for the TV show I’m shooting; while it’s part of my character, it’s also because my scalp has a bit of a flare-up now, so just by slicking it back it covers everything up,” she says.

Using certain hair styles and articles of clothing are her go-to tricks for dealing with flare-ups (“I started to use my clothing, whether it’s hats or long sleeves or pants — or when it breaks out on my scalp I’ll do my hair a certain way, like pulled back in a ponytail”), but she wants the public to know there’s no need to hide when it comes to psoriasis. “We’re just encouraging people to go to the website and share images of what they’ve been able to do with psoriasis to encourage and urge people in the community to push forward and not let this stop us, because there’s a lot of people out there suffering in silence. I just want to be the face of it to say we don’t have to do that — life does go on and it can be great, even if you have this condition.”

La La Anthony
La La Anthony

Courtesy La La Anthony

Anthony isn’t the first celebrity to reveal her struggle with psoriasis to the public eye. Cara Delevingne, Stacy London and Cyndi Lauper are all sufferers, though perhaps Kim Kardashian is the most high-profile star to speak out about her skin condition. And Anthony admits her BFF did help to inspire her to come out and discuss her condition with the world. “The thing I’ve taken from [Kim] is not to be afraid of it, not to be ashamed of it,” she says. “It’s something that we have; it doesn’t make us any less human, or weird or freaky. It’s about being open with what we have and being open with other people who are suffering from the same thing. If I was to take anything from her it would be that: to not be ashamed of it.”

As for what triggers her flare ups? Delevingne has linked hers to fashion week stress and Kardashian has admitted that her hectic lifestyle plays a big role in her outbreaks. Anthony, on the other hand, links hers to excitement. “Stress is definitely one of those [triggers], but for me it’s when I get really excited, because I think it’s that adrenaline pumping and a lot of times I see breakouts happening then,” she explains. “And I’m like, ‘Why is this happening now? Everything’s going so great!’ [Then] sometimes it comes and you don’t even know why. You’re like I don’t feel stressed, I don’t feel excited, I just feel normal and regular.”

In the end, Anthony hopes that coming forward about her psoriasis will encourage others to feel more confident too. “I would just tell anyone out there living with it, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider to make sure you understand the disease and know exactly what you’re dealing with, but also don’t be ashamed, don’t be scared, you don’t have to go into hiding like I haven’t,” she says. “Life goes on and you have to live your goals and dreams and not let it get in the way of anything.”

Have you ever dealt with a skin condition, and how did you learn to overcome it? Do you have any tips or tricks to share with others who might be suffering? Sounds off in the comments, below!

— Adeline Duff

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