Former model and current nutritional therapist Breanne Rice shared a candid set of photos as she talked about living with vitiligo on the Today Show.
Since age 19, Rice has been living with the rare skin condition that causes the loss of pigment across the skin.
In Rice’s case, this loss was confined to her face, but the effects were still significant enough to make her hide behind makeup for most of her life.
Rice shared Instagram photos of herself that revealed the pale, white sections of skin flowing under her eyes and over her nose as well as around her chin, giving the illusion of a strange, blotched mask.
She describes how she feared going outside since tanning only darkened the pigmented portions of her skin and made the condition stand out more, furthering her insecurity. This lack of confidence extended into how she would behave for photo shoots, sometimes calling ahead and warning the makeup teams.
At 19, I was diagnosed with vitiligo, and it spread rapidly causing me to lose over half of the pigment on my face. Yeah. Not the bottom of my foot or my arm..but ONLY on my face. I got really good at doing my makeup, and I didn’t want anyone to know about it. I couldn’t look in the mirror without crying, and feeling unattractive. When I am exposed to the sun, it tans my healthy skin and leaves my vitiligo even more noticeable. It’s taken me a very long time to be able to go public with this, and to walk around publicly without any makeup. Why? Because it’s my face. Although I would like to say I am super confident and it never gets to me, sometimes it does. Some days people make comments saying “what happened to your face?!” Sometimes if I have a crush on someone I am worried about them seeing me without makeup and worry that they won’t think I’m cute. It’s like ohh hey by the way..this is the real me underneath all this. You know what though, I own it. There’s not much I can do about it. I can only love myself, and not let my circumstances define my value or self-worth. What is the definition of beautiful anyway? Is it being perfect? What do you see when you look in the mirror? Perhaps you have a circumstance or something about yourself that you are insecure about. Don’t let it define you. You deserve love, and you are beautiful ? #vitiligo #beauty #perfect #seattle #health #holistic #nutrition #inspire #encourage #love #selfworth #loveyourself #digestion #autoimmune #vitiligoselfie #vitiligolove #vitiligobeauties #healing #healthyskin #skin #pigment #inspiring #inspirational #vitiligo #love #selflove #beauty
It was only after her modeling career ended that Rice felt secure enough to be more open about her vitiligo. Since her new role as a nutritional therapy practitioner kept her in the public eye and making television appearances, it gave her a platform that she credits with being inspired enough to talk about the skin condition.
Talking more freely about having vitiligo was something Breanne Rice did both for herself and others. Being able to ‘own’ her condition and still feel confident and beautiful is something she needed but Rice also wanted to share the experience with anyone who may be facing similar types of insecurity. Rice’s ultimate message is that it’s possible to feel valuable and worthy of love regardless of physical appearance and that true confidence comes when you stop comparing yourself to others.
Vitiligo is a rare skin disease that appears in less than 1% of the global population and causes the cells which produce pigment to either die or stop functioning. The condition can affect the air, eyes, inside of the mouth, and skin.
Although not contagious or dangerous, vitiligo is often a source of anxiety and stressful for those who have it. Although it can affect people of any skin type or color, the effects of vitiligo are most noticeable on dark-skinned individuals, as was the famous case with pop singer Michael Jackson.
Feature image: stock photo, iStock
“Vitiligo – Definition,” Mayo Clinic web site, August 27, 2015; http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/vitiligo/basics/definition/con-20032007, last accessed July 25, 2016.