To the Friends of Girls with Vitiligo:
First of all, you all are awesome. You’re the girls who know our secrets, listen to our fears, hold our hands, help us laugh and more than anything, you stay by our sides through thick and thin. You might not entirely understand what having vitiligo is all about, but that doesn’t stop you from trying to listen or cheer us up when we’re down. And we appreciate that more than anything.
Since you’re such great friends, we thought you might appreciate a little insight into what summer looks like as a girl with vitiligo. When the days and weeks are all about pool days, beach vacations and bikinis, it’s easy to feel like we can’t keep up with our non-dappled friends. So help us fit into summer plans and be the friend by your side this season:
Remember that girls with vitiligo burn easily
As a refresher – vitiligo is the result of a lack of pigment, and pigment helps protect your skin from the sun. So girls with vitiligo burn easily in the sun, which means sunscreen is a necessity. But when the waves are calling and your friends are playing, it can be hard to stop and apply sunscreen regularly. Help us to not look like lobsters by making it a priority to put on sunscreen and remind us throughout the day to keep our skin safe.
Find a shady spot for outdoor festivities
If you’re hosting an outdoor activity, plan for shade. Whether it’s the pool, a picnic, boating or hanging out in the backyard, make sure the spot has some cover from the sun. Are you trying to catch some rays? Place seating half in the sun and half out to make it easy for us to tag along without worrying about burning our skin.
Schedule evening outings
If you can’t have shade, then plan for later in the day. Evenings are the perfect time to be outside. The sun is at its coolest, so it’s safe to be outdoors without all of the sunscreen. Plan outdoor activities like pool parties, picnics or sporting games to be in the later part of the day when the sun isn’t so harsh on our skin. We’ll thank you for it – and the break from dousing ourselves in sunscreen!
Be a little more modest in the way you dress
While everyone strips down to sun dresses, bikinis and short shorts, it’s hard to not compare ourselves to everyone around us – and that includes our own friends. We might be uncomfortable putting on a bathing suit at all, so consider how it might make us feel to see you running around in a tiny bikini. By being even a little conscious of what you’re wearing, you can help us avoid feeling like we’re the grandma at a sweet sixteen party.
Build us up every chance you get
At the end of the day, just remember that we’re likely feeling insecure on some level, especially when we’re surrounded by our gorgeous girlfriends. We’ll try to hide our anxiety or slipping confidence, but it will still be there. Build us up by sending some extra love our way with compliments, hugs and encouragement. Your opinion makes a world of difference to us.
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.