I have to be honest with you – four months ago, I was bundled up in my cozy long-sleeve top, dreading your arrival. After months of cooler temperatures, I had gotten used to hiding behind scarves and sweaters – used to hiding my skin from the world. And I was happy that way.
And then you came along, bringing your beaming rays and humid heat with you. You emptied my closet of pants and jackets and you replaced them with dresses and shorts. You replaced the hot-cocoa invitations with beach vacations. You took me out of my comfort zone and put me back in the midst of a crowd full of curious, staring eyes. And it wasn’t easy.
You made me remember the skin condition I had tried to forget all winter long. You made me realize once again that I’m not “normal.” You made me face all of the fears that I had buried beneath the surface of my emotions. It was almost too much to handle.
You watched as tears streamed down my face after the stinging comment, the stare that lasted too long and the look that was one look too many. You saw the anger and despair as I realized for the hundredth time that I have no control over this crazy condition that is taking over – and has taken over – my entire body. You heard me wish that I could make my spots go away forever.
And then you saw something you might not have expected.
You watched me wipe the tears from my eyes, a new determination placed fiercely behind them. You saw me try on a bathing suit for the second time and kindly smile at the person staring at me. You stood by while I played on the beach for the first time in ages and actually had fun. You were the backdrop for the night at the carnival when I wore shorts and didn’t care who looked.
You were witness to the birth of a new girl with vitiligo – the kind of girl who owns her spots. The girl who doesn’t let her vitiligo define her and knows that life is about more than makeup and medicine. The girl who chooses happiness, seeks courage and builds her confidence in each passing moment. The girl who spends every day living dappled.
You aren’t the easiest season by a long stretch, but in a way, you are the most important season. You challenge me, shape me and change me. You make me a better person and you leave me stronger than when you found me. And these past few months were no exception.
Until next year.
A Girl with Vitiligo
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.