Tiffany Taylor spent most of her life covering her vitiligo – until last Halloween.
After getting vitiligo at the age of 14, Tiffany turned to makeup and spray tans to cover the spreading white patches. Pouring hours of her day into doing her face and neck makeup, she would cover the rest of her body with clothes and spray tan her feet and hands. In fact, she spent so much time covering her spots that her vitiligo remained a secret through high school and college.
Then she heard about Winnie Harlow. Inspired by the model’s confidence, Tiffany decided to dress like Winnie for Halloween. It was the first time that she would show the spots on her face in public – but she knew she was ready.
“To my surprise, people were friendly, and I didn’t feel judged,” said Tiffany, who said her costume gave her the security she needed to talk about vitiligo. “Being Winnie Harlow, I felt like a beautiful model. I realized that there was nothing to be afraid of – that I could accept this.”
Two weeks after Halloween, Tiffany posted a picture on Facebook showing the spots on her face. It was the first time many people – including her parents and extended family – had seen her makeup-free in years. The positive support and feedback gave her the courage to start wearing less makeup. Two month later, she walked out of the house without any makeup on – and hasn’t used makeup to hide her vitiligo since.
“Today I would say I am a makeup minimalist,” said Tiffany, who works for a legal tech company as an accounting manager in Philadelphia. “I like eye liner & mascara, and lip gloss. I only get made up for special occasions.”
Going makeup-free hasn’t been without its difficulties, though.
“I had to get used to people staring at me, making comments and even backing away because they do not want to ‘catch’ what is wrong with me,” said Tiffany, who shared that the transition required a lot of self-work and personal adjustments.
Today Tiffany has accepted that she’s not in control of others’ reactions to her skin, and that perception shift has helped her deal with staring and comments. Even so, she says it’s not easy – but it has made her stronger. In fact, she’s thankful for her journey over the past year.
Said Tiffany, “I’m the happiest 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.