There’s something special about the friends of those with vitiligo. These friends have no small job. On top of being our BFFs, they often have to help us navigate the roller coaster of emotions that living with vitiligo can bring – helping us smile when people stare, feel brave when we wear shorts and stay strong when living with spots gets to be too much.
One of my closest friends actually chose to become friends with me because of my vitiligo, a fact she didn’t share with me until years later. The spots on my skin reminded her of an Appaloosa horse, one of her favorite animals. So when she saw me on campus our first year of college, spots dappling my arms and legs, she decided then and there that we were going to be friends.
I laughed when she finally told me this story – it warmed my heart to think that she saw my skin and chose me because of it, when most people would just stare. She opened my eyes to a new way of seeing my life with spots. And that’s exactly the kind of friend I needed.
She could see past my vitiligo
They say that what’s on the inside matters most, but we all know that it can be hard to actually live by those standards. Surrounded by magazines portraying beauty over brains and looks over hearts, it’s easy to take people at face-value – literally. But that wasn’t the case for this girl. My looks may have caught her attention, but she didn’t see my skin – just the girl inside.
She celebrated my spots
No, she didn’t throw a spot-themed party. But in her own quiet, everyday way, she celebrated how unique I was because of my skin. She loved my spots because she loved me, and they were a part of me. It was something that was hard for me to understand. I couldn’t stand to see my reflection in the mirror, so how could she? Was it actually possible to like someone with spots? And if she could like me, then shouldn’t I be able to like myself? She did what I couldn’t do for myself, and opened my eyes to what I had thought was impossible.
She was always there for me
She was one of my “2 a.m. friends.” I could call her anytime, no matter the hour, and she would be there for me in a heartbeat. But that wasn’t all. Looking back, I realize that we never actually spent a lot time talking about my skin. Not because she didn’t want to, but because when I was with her, I wasn’t the girl with spots – I was just her best friend. She was my break from being the girl with the weird skin condition and a refuge from my own judgmental thoughts. She let me be the girl that I knew was inside of me.
Written in memory of Brooke Durbin – thank you for being the friend I always needed.
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.