Model and nutritionist Breanne Rice was diagnosed with vitiligo when she was 19 years old. The condition rapidly spread, causing her to lose pigment in half of her face. Now she’s sharing her story as a girl with vitiligo in TLC’s third series of “Too Ugly for Love?”
Airing now in the United Kingdom, the show follows single individuals with unique conditions – like excessive sweating, missing limbs and yes, skin conditions – as they navigate the dating scene. Unfortunately, the program isn’t available online, so we asked the Seattle native for a behind-the-scenes take on how she’s sharing her story with the world.
LD: Congrats on the documentary, Breanne! How exciting. How were you chosen for this project?
BR: A production company filming the documentary actually found me on Instagram, when I posted a photo of myself with no makeup, exposing my vitiligo. Social media is a very powerful thing, and you never know how one post can change someone’s life, or what kind of opportunity it can bring you.
LD: Agreed. So tell us about your involvement in the documentary.
BR: The documentary follows me through my everyday life – work, habits, meeting with clients, and even on dates. The camera crew and director flew to Seattle and we filmed for over a month and a half. It was an incredible experience. It was a lot of work and long hours of filming, but I had so much fun with them. It was great because I got to film at a lot of my favorite restaurants and spots in Seattle, as well as filming with my best friend and some other rad people.
LD: So what was a typical day of filming like?
BR: I would have a call time every day, and I would need to be ready to go on location right away. Sometimes we would start filming at my place, or we would head to a location and they would set up lights, cameras and a mic. When we filmed, they were full days, sometimes going up to 12 or so hours per day, with several outfit changes and different hair and makeup. We tried to film at special times of the day when heading to restaurants or businesses, as it drew a lot of attention with the cameras and lights set up everywhere. Sometimes we would film inside of the car, and it was funny to watch people’s reactions as we were driving along and they saw cameras and lights on inside the car.
LD: Had you had other TV/film experience before this?
BR: I started out doing some TV locally, and then I was a contestant on ABC’s hit reality series The Bachelor prior to filming this, so yes, I had some experience in front of the cameras. Now I frequent programs like Home and Family on the Hallmark channel.
LD: How has vitiligo affected your self-esteem? Does the documentary capture this?
BR: Yes, the documentary showed me applying makeup and what that was like for me, as well as some of the past thoughts that I have had about myself and dealing with the autoimmune disease. They also filmed me on dates, and I was able to show how I would deal with telling them about my condition, and how it affected me. For the longest time, I wouldn’t go outside without makeup on, and I hid my condition from everyone. This documentary has allowed me to share my story, be vulnerable, and show how that translates into everyday life for me.
LD: So how do you tell people about your skin on dates? And how long do you wait?
BR: Since I have come forward with my condition, I feel like I don’t need to be as upfront about it. I have been single for over two years, so if I began dating someone exclusively, I would probably discuss it in more detail and talk about how it affected me in the past.
LD: What is the typical reaction when you explain your skin to romantic interests? Have you ever had a negative reaction?
BR: Lately I’ve been trying to go on more dates, but most men have said they are inspired by my courage and the fact that I’m confident and comfortable being myself makes me even more attractive. In the past I had a few negative reactions, but honestly I don’t want to date someone who is concerned with only my outward appearance. I want someone to fall in love with my soul.
LD: What would be your advice to other girls with vitiligo who are dating?
BR: Be you. You are perfect and beautiful exactly how you are, and you should feel confident and comfortable in your own skin. Confidence is sexy, and being comfortable with yourself will attract the right person into your life.
LD: Do you feel like the documentary accurately captures your everyday life?
BR: Yes, I think it’s pretty accurate regarding the struggles I’ve dealt with. I hope my situation can inspire others to love themselves and feel confident in their own skin.
LD: How has sharing your story changed the way you deal with life as girl with vitiligo?
BR: I used to think being open and vulnerable made me look insecure and weak, but now I think it means that I’m strong and confident. For the first time I feel completely comfortable in my own skin, and I want to use my situation to help inspire others to change their mindset and live the life they have always dreamed of.
LD: Have to ask because of the title – what would you say about being “too ugly for love”?
BR: It’s a catchy title that grabs your attention and gets you to tune into the show, but it’s quite the opposite actually. Everyone on the show is beautiful, it’s just a way of describing that sometimes people hide conditions and things because they are insecure and they don’t feel good enough because of them, or that they are deserving of love. I used to think that my vitiligo made me less attractive, and it consumed my thoughts. Now I am the most confident I’ve ever been.
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.