vitiligo[ vit-l-ahy-goh, -ee-goh ]
a skin disorder characterized by smooth, white patches on various parts of the body, caused by the loss of the natural pigment.
Friend asked to do a self-healing, empowering and body positivity photoshoot, a beautiful person who I have worked with a lot in the past, and if it were not for this I would have never guessed she had such a condition, I never noticed it in the past shoots we've had, so I'm so honored that she asked me to do this for her, the rest is her story.
The thought has been persistent for as long as I can remember: no matter how many people tell me I’m beautiful I just won’t believe it. I’ve tried endlessly to force that belief onto myself but it never stuck. What I’ve really needed was to look at this perception of myself from all angles: what made me believe I’m not pretty in the first place? and why do I still have trouble comprehending this?
Children, since I was in kindergarten, have poked fun at my hair – calling me an old lady – and my legs – calling me a cow. Had they not, I never would have noticed my differences and considered them negative.
No one has made fun of me since sixth grade, because I dye my hair and hide my legs under my clothes. I’ve tried all I can to permanently give color to my legs, from tanning sprays and lotions to laser treatments, with little to no results.
Nowadays, however, body positivity is becoming a crucial message to spread, something I wish was prevalent in my youth. Gorgeous models such as Winnie Harlow are beauty icons and people wish they could be her. I just wish I could be that confident in my own skin. My vitiligo hardly even shows, compared to hers and I’m still afraid! Something I can’t understand about myself is that my skin is covered in dark birthmarks and my face is full of freckles.
This discoloration does not bother me at all, but my lighter areas do.
I don’t know how to instill confidence in myself but during this project, I was shocked that I was brave enough to admit to someone that I have vitiligo, and to model for it. I felt surprisingly comfortable for the first time, but still feel the urge to hide my hair and legs from the world.
I hope someday I’ll be okay with strangers’ stares and remember two things: 1) It doesn’t matter what people think (and I’ll likely never see most of them again), and 2) many people think it’s cool!
A Huge thank you to my Friend Laura for this photoshoot, and allowing me to tell her story through my Lens. I hope this project helps her heal, and feel as awesome as she looks.