When the first light patches of vitiligo started developing on a teenage Tiffany Taylor, she covered them up with makeup. As the condition spread, she used more and more makeup, and wore clothes that covered up the patches on her body. Her anxiety about her skin’s appearance affected all areas of her life. After reconnecting with her faith, Tiffany began a self-care practice, and started wearing less and less makeup to cover her vitiligo, until she totally stopped. Now 33, Tiffany wears makeup for fun, not out of fear. Here’s her story.
The first light spot appeared on my face the summer I was 14. I discovered I had vitiligo, which is a skin condition that causes you to lose pigmentation. It never even occurred to me that I should accept myself this way — I was ashamed of it, of being so visibly different — so it was just always something I tried to hide. I covered it up with makeup, and that’s what I kept doing through school and college, even though the patches were spreading. In my 20s, when it started showing more on my hands and other places, I started doing spray tans, and I got kind of addicted. I went three times a week, and it got really extreme. If I touched papers at the office they would get discolored, and all of my clothes had stains on them. I worried constantly that some of the pigment would come off and the spots would show. And when I met my newborn nephew, I was afraid to hold him at first because I was worried about his skin having a reaction to the spray tan on my hands and arms.
It was so much work and I didn’t want to feel ashamed of my skin anymore. I decided to do some self-work to overcome my fears. A big part of it was reconnecting with my faith. I know that God created me like this for a reason and he never gives you more than you can bear. Knowing that I have a purpose with my skin being this way gave me comfort and strength and the confidence that I could handle showing the world my real self.
I didn’t go makeup-free all at once. I gradually wore less and less until — I’ll never forget it — December 20, 2017. I just rolled out of bed, didn’t put on any makeup, and went to work. I haven’t worn makeup to cover it since. I wear makeup if I feel like it, but I wear it for fun or to create a look, not to hide my skin. It used to take me at least an hour in the morning and now it’s like, five minutes. I spent 15 years covering it up, and when I stopped, it literally was like a weight had been lifted off me.
Now, I live life out loud so much more. I didn’t realize how much I held back on in my life because of my worries about my skin. I take the morning time I used to spend on makeup and use it to really take care of myself. I do daily devotions — prayer, meditation, and reading — doing these things really helps me develop my inner strength and resilience, rather than focusing on my outward appearance. And I make sure I consistently work out to get my blood flowing and give me energy. I make healthy smoothies to fuel my body. These practices keep me feeling great in mind, body, and soul.
My friends and my family say they’ve seen a change in me, that I’m more confident. Before, everywhere I went and with everyone I met, I had this big secret. It was like, I don’t really look like this, you aren’t really meeting me. People finding out I had vitiligo was honestly my biggest fear in life. So if I can overcome this, it just makes me think I can accomplish everything. I lost my fear and gained my whole life.
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