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What Happened When I Gave Myself Permission to Be a Girl with Vitiligo

What Happened When I Gave Myself Permission to Be a Girl with Vitiligo


Most of my life as a girl with vitiligo has been all about “keeping up with the Joneses.” My energy was put towards being a girl without spots so I could ‘keep up’ with the girls that didn’t have them. But trying to be someone other than myself was exhausting – and ultimately damaging.

Trying to be the girl without spots

While my friends were shopping for bikinis and counting down until the next pool day, I was obsessing over my spray tan, hoping I could look ‘normal’ in a swimsuit. I would pretend to be excited about a full day of lounging by the water, but inside, I was only trying to quiet the panic that was slowly building.

Despite my best tries to pretend I didn’t have spots, I would inevitably fall short of my expectations – because I never could be the girl without spots. My confidence would crash and plummet and I’d be right back to where I started – hating my skin and wishing I could be anyone else.

It was an exhausting, stressful and depressing cycle. I was putting all of my effort into trying to be someone that I wasn’t, and it was crushing me.

Allowing myself to be the girl with vitiligo

At some point, I realized that I needed to give myself permission to have vitiligo. Hiding my skin was hiding who I was. And it was okay to just be me, the girl with spots.

I started to speak up about summer outings with my friends. Now, we make sure there is shade or an umbrella if we go to the pool or the beach. If we eat outdoors, it’s at a table with an umbrella. And no matter where we are, my friends frequently remind me to put on sunscreen to keep my skin safe.

I stopped obsessing over my tanner. Yes, I still wear it, but I stopped getting spray tans and instead started using tanning lotions at home. It takes far less time out of my day, automatically making it less of a priority. And if the tan doesn’t turn out perfectly, I’ve learned to let it go and do whatever I was going to do anyway.

I stopped worrying about what other people think. I was at my cousin’s outdoor wedding this past July on a hot afternoon. The sun was beating down and the ceremony was taking place in a field, with no protection from the sun. So I popped open an oversized umbrella to shade my skin. Did people look at me? Yes. Was it embarrassing? At first, yes. But I quickly got over it, because I’m a girl with vitiligo and this is just part of who I am.

It’s good to push yourself and try to get in a bathing suit or slip on your favorite pair of shorts even when it’s hard to have people see your skin. But you don’t need to ‘keep up’ or push yourself to the point of a breakdown. You’re different – embrace it.

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