Two years ago, I stumbled across a letter from the editor in Allure’s September 2014 magazine that spoke to my inner perfectionist, and to my life as a girl with vitiligo.
In a letter titled “A Fine Mess,” Editor in Chief Linda Wells wrote about how being perfect can actually hold you back. And more than that, being ‘perfect’ doesn’t always allow you to live – to have fun. Her message made me pause.
Pursuing Perfection as a Girl with Vitiligo
I have always been a perfectionist. In kindergarten, my idea of playtime was dumping the tub of colored bears onto the table and organizing them into lines by color. In high school, I was the straight-A student who never missed an assignment. Today, I have a list for every single part of my life – from what I have to do today to what I plan to do within the next year. Every piece of my life has a place and an order.
The same couldn’t be said for my spots. In fact, living “dappled” was everything that made my inner perfectionist squirm. The speckled spots randomly splattered across my body didn’t fit into my organized life. Dots would have been better – perfectly organized shapes that fit neatly together. But it wasn’t up to me.
So I grew up living a life in pursuit of perfection while always feeling less than perfect – and like I could never get there. Life with vitiligo didn’t fit into my idea of “perfect.”
Embracing the “Fine Mess” in My Life
In her letter, Linda explained how our culture is slowly learning to embrace the “messy” side of things.
“Perfectionism isn’t what it used to be,” said Linda. “There seems to be a shift lately toward embracing the messy aspects of life that make us human.”
It was an idea that intrigued the perfectionist in my head. Was it possible to have a “perfect mess”? Was there actually perfection in just being who you are, whether it be dappled or dotted?
By and large, I was failing at being “perfect” by my own definition, because I could never be perfect with spots. But maybe I didn’t need to change my spots. Maybe my life was beautiful just the way it was, even with the ‘messy’ splotches of white all across my body.
The day I read that letter, I ripped it out and pinned it to the corkboard next to my desk. It’s been there ever since, a constant reminder that I don’t need to be ‘perfect.’ I just have to be the best version of me – and that is perfect enough.
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.