True confidence comes from self-acceptance – something that can be hard when you live with vitiligo. So where do you start? How do you go about building confidence? I sat down with psychotherapist Julia Hogan to get the answers.
A licensed professional counselor (LPC) in Chicago, Julia counsels clients in areas such as depression, relationships, confidence and body image. She also writes for the women’s magazine Verily and hosts wellness workshops on topics like overcoming depression, setting boundaries and staying grounded.
While Julia recognizes that accepting your vitiligo can be a long-term journey, she offered three practical, every day exercises to help you build confidence starting today.
Describe your reflection as more than the “person with vitiligo”
Don’t let your skin become the defining factor for your body image – Julia’s first words of advice. You see your reflection throughout the day – while getting ready in the morning, while passing by windows and every time you use the bathroom. Because of this, it’s important to have a positive reaction to your body, or at least a neutral one. To help build a body-positive image, Julia recommends standing in front of the mirror and describing yourself in neutral terms – and positive terms if you can. What color are your hair and eyes? What do your nails look like? Do you have long eyelashes?? By recognizing other aspects of your body image, you’ll take the focus off of your skin.
Make a list of your positive qualities
Are you good at photography? Do you like the way you sing? Are you the go-to person when friends need someone who can listen? Making a list of the personality qualities you like about yourself can not only build your self-esteem, but also reinforces the idea that your physical attributes – including your skin – are only one part of you. According to Julia, this can be awkward at first because it will feel like you’re bragging or being self-centered. By pushing through that feeling and spending meaningful time on the exercise, you’ll start to define your own value.
Follow body-positive influencers on social media
If you’re like me, you spend countless hours scrolling Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat every day. Social media is an integral part of our lives and influences the way we feel throughout the day. Whether you realize it not, you’re often reacting, internalizing and comparing yourself to what you read and see on social media. Julia recommends surrounding yourself with positive messages by following inspirational accounts and people on social media. To get started, do a refresh of the accounts you are following. Un-follow five accounts that might negatively impact you and replace them with five accounts that lift you up and inspire you.
Disclaimer: These tips are general advice only and are not meant to be taken as therapeutic advice. For more information, visit https://juliamariehogan.com/.
Erika Page is the Founder and Editor of Living Dappled. After getting vitiligo at the age of seven, she lost 100% of her pigment to the condition and today lives with universal vitiligo.