When I first became a Vitiligo advocate, three years ago, I used my platform to encourage people to embrace their Vitiligo. I had spent seventeen years in my own captivity – hiding and covering my white spots. One day, I was unknowingly thrown into the spotlight because an article was written about my tattoo (which I had done because of my Vitiligo). I felt empowered and wanted to share my experience with the Vitiligo community. However, I soberingly realized I am still a human being and, like most human beings I have very deep rooted insecurities. If I want to be honest, I have days when I feel like I can conquer the world with my white spots and all. I also have many days when I feel like my spots are a burden. There are days when I just don’t want to explain my skin condition, because it is exhausting and there are days when I’d rather not be stared at or pointed at.
This leaves the obvious questions:
I believe our Vitiligo community (including myself) has been so focused on encouraging people to show off their skin condition that we’ve forgotten about the people who aren’t comfortable exposing their spots, or the people who simply prefer to cover up. I think it’s important that we remember that it is our choice. A lot of people do not want to embrace their white spots. And when it comes down to it, it shouldn’t matter if we cover our spots one day and show them off the next. Covering your spots can be just as empowering as embracing them is to another. I spent seventeen years covering my Vitiligo spots. There are many mornings when I wake up very insecure about my Vitiligo and spend a few extra minutes applying products to my face and neck. Embracing our Vitiligo should be about feeling comfortable in our decisions, and remaining true to ourselves.
Or not to Cover?
The other choice we can make is not to cover our spots. This should be your choice and no one else’s. It’s always a nice feeling when I decide to walk outdoors in shorts, a tank top, flip flops, and no makeup. Even though this is the simpler option, I still find myself struggling with my confidence. I go through a mixed range of emotions, and then my anxiety and nerves take over.
I try to pretend that the staring or pointing doesn’t affect me, but to be honest, much of the time it does. On my good days, when I show off my skin, I feel natural and free. And as I’ve said in the past,
“when I embrace my beautiful spots it feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.”
“I also believe that it is important for us to educate people about our condition. One way to do this is by taking off our mask and allowing more and more people to become familiar with Vitiligo.
“What is Vitiligo? According to National Institutes of Health, the most important thing to remember is that Vitiligo is an autoimmune disease. It’s not only about what is happening on the outside but what is happening on the inside. WE should be refreshingly honest with ourselves, and focus on what makes us feel empowered as individuals. Create your own joy. It’s your choice, and only your choice. To cover or not to cover, that is your question.
A post shared by @Littyligo of @ekta_oswal_nahar #BeautifulBothWays
If you haven’t heard of it already, there is a really wonderful campaign called #BeautifulBothWays. Through this campaign @LittyLigo truly captures one’s decision to cover or not to cover their Vitiligo. Sharon King, the woman behind Litty Ligo, created this online community to advocate for people living with Vitiligo by sharing resources that allow you to feel that you are so much more than your Vitiligo, because you ARE more than your Vitiligo. Whether or not you choose to cover your white spots, you are “beautiful both ways.”
Vitiligo Models in featured image: @karineguimaraes19 @LakeshaJ and @ladyd_32
Tiffany Grant is a freelance writer, she has had Vitiligo for 20 years. Her first spots appeared on her knees at the age of 7. Tiffany got the tattoo “It’s called Vitiligo” a few years back and had her story shared via many sources including Women’s Health Magazine and the Daily Mail. From Brooklyn, NY. Tiffany advocates and raises awareness for the autoimmune disease, Vitiligo.