Since adopting her two children, Kristin Davis has become acutely aware of the lack of representation for nonwhite people in this country, and her child’s battle with eczema taught her that this is true in the medical field as well.
“Almost everything is very white-centric, so you have such a wake-up call when your children are Black,” she told HuffPost, while promoting Dupixent, a therapy for atopic dermatitis (a common form of eczema) that was recently approved by the FDA for children aged 6 and older.
“You’re like, ‘Wow, this is crazy what people have to deal with,’” she continued. “When you’re looking for reference photos, you really have to be specific about dark skin because things are going to look different on dark skin. That was one of my struggles when I was looking for a dermatologist as well. Some dermatologists specialize in dark skin and some don’t.”
Davis adopted a daughter, Gemma Rose, in 2011 and a son, Wilson, in 2018. The actress, who previously spoke about the complexities of transracial adoption in an emotional episode of “Red Table Talk,” explained that her children have really opened her eyes to the lack of diversity and representation in the U.S.
“You do definitely see a big difference, and I think it’s something we could change in all professions but especially the medical profession because everybody needs care, and everybody needs specific advice and reference points,” she noted. “To see yourself reflected is really important for kids and obviously for everyone.”
Davis has opted not to identify which of her two children struggles with eczema for privacy reasons, but she noted that having a kid with a chronic skin issue led to feelings of helplessness and made her doubt her instincts at times.
“It was so frustrating as a mom in the years that I was trying to figure out what was wrong and what I could do for my child to bring them some relief,” Davis noted. “I think looking back on it, I wish that I had felt more empowered to talk to my doctor earlier. I think that in my own head and from other moms on the playground, people would kind of minimize it and say, ‘Oh, it’s just a rash’ because babies get a lot of kinds of rashes. And maybe it is just a rash, but for us it kept going and got worse and was kind of mysterious. I felt in my gut that something was really off, but everyone kept telling me, ‘Don’t worry, don’t worry.’ I wish I had listened to my own feelings and spoken up to my doctor sooner.”
At one point, the eczema was causing “cracked, oozing facial lesions.” Once the family got a diagnosis, they found relief from learning more about the condition, trying topical solutions and determining the triggers that cause flare-ups.
“You have to forgive yourself as a mom because you feel so frustrated and you feel like you want to fix it and you can’t fix it,” she explained. “There’s a lot of guilt. Just give yourself a break. And also feel empowered to talk to your own doctor. I was working in New York when it became a huge flare-up, and strangers would point it out.”
“My child didn’t necessarily know, but I thought, ‘We’ve got to handle this before my child is more aware,’” she continued. “I had acne as a younger person, and it is really mortifying and you have so much pressure on yourself. As we age, we become more aware of everyone’s reactions to us and to our skin and I’d never want my child to feel different or excluded or thinking, ‘What’s wrong with me?’”
Davis noted that feeling helpless at times just comes with the territory of parenting, but she always does whatever is in her power to tackle new challenges.
“As much as we try, we can’t protect them from everything and solve everything,” she said. “I talk to my mom friends of course, and I talk to my own mom. But my own mom always says, ‘It’ll be fine.’ And I’m like, ‘Well, Mom, sometimes you need to do something.’ I google, just like everybody else. I try to really only go to really trusted medical websites. Certainly in the case of trying to figure out the eczema, I used to go down the parent chat boards, but then you’re just overwhelmed with advice from this different person. And I think with skin issues, there are so many different things that people can be treating and that may or may not apply to you. So you need to just pick a few sites really based in research and doctors’ opinions and really stick with those.”
One of Davis’ primary goals as a mother is to empower her children, and she often uses children’s books to help achieve this. She and her kids are loving three children’s books in particular right now ― “Antiracist Baby” by Ibram X. Kendi, “A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo” by Jill Twiss and “Be Who You Are” by Todd Parr.
In addition to empowering Gemma and Wilson, the actress also tries to instill gratitude and perspective in her children.
“It’s an ongoing process,” she said. “We have so much financial disparity in our country and the whole world. I took my children to South Africa and Zambia when I was working, and it was really eye-opening. They had the best time and learned about different ways people live. I think it’s very important to say people are born into the situation they’re born in, and it’s not a reflection on them. That was something I was taught growing up because I grew up in the South with a lot of rural area around me.”
Throughout the pandemic, she’s emphasized how fortunate her family is to have lots of space to move around.
“We talk a lot about how not everybody has space and how hard it must be for them to have to isolate without room to play,” she said. “To a kid, that’s real. To a mom, it’s real as well. I think about that all the time ― how incredible it is to be in such a lovely home going through this in. We have certain easing of the physical boundaries of the situation and we’re just incredibly lucky.”
Davis said she’s also very fortunate to have found a school for her children that has a lot of economic and racial diversity.
“I try to open the bubble as much as I can, but having said that, it takes a lot,” she noted. “You think you’re good right then but then something else comes up. I also think exposing them through books and so many different ways that don’t not necessarily involve travel, though I do love that as a way of opening the world up.”