A model bares her true skin in an effort to raise awareness about vitiligo, and our backward beauty standards.
The #nomakeup selfie trend is a little bit of a mixed-bag. For many people, it simply means taking a picture of yourself in which you looks a little less energized, a little less radiant, or plainer. It means letting our under-eye circles show and our eyelashes small and gunk-free. But for others, it can be an act of bravery.
When I first saw singer Alicia Keys decide to embrace #nomakeup at photo shoots and concerts, I nodded and applauded. But when I heard about former model Breanne Rice, who decided to snap a selfie of her real face, sans makeup, I was in awe of her courage.
Rice has vitiligo, an autoimmune disease that robs your skin of its pigment. There are treatments, but no cure. It’s the same disease Michael Jackson reportedly had–and for which he was often mocked. As her vitiligo spread across her nose and cheeks, starting when she was 19, Rice began covering the condition under layers of concealer, ashamed to go out in public without it. But after 12 years of hiding her “condition,” Rice decided to face the world–with her “real” face– to raise awareness about vitiligo, a relatively rare disease that still affects an estimated 2 to 5 million people in the U.S. alone.
Though once Rice couldn’t “look in the mirror without crying,” she decided to go public not because she is incredibly confident, but because, she said simply, “it’s my face.”
She went on to say: “This is the real me underneath all this [makeup],” Rice writes. “You know what though, [sic] 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 … 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.”
Those words and the pictures were not easy to share. Though Rice tells For Her that the hardest part was accepting the condition herself. “I had to learn to love myself and not allow the fact that I’ve lost half of the pigmentation on my face to effect my self-esteem or make me feel differently about myself.”
“There is so much pressure to look a certain way,” Rice says. “It was a lot of work to get my skin to appear normal with makeup, but I was worried that I wouldn’t be successful, or that I simply wasn’t good enough because I didn’t look like everyone else.”
But Rice says she finally realized enough was enough. She decided to “focus her energy elsewhere,” rather than constantly worrying about hiding her condition–or worrying about it spreading (as recent scans show it has).
Since Rice shared the photos of herself online, she says she is “overwhelmed with joy” from the positive reaction she’s received. Among the messages of support, she has even been contacted by some of the most influential women in fashion and health.
|I would rather be a role model than a perfect looking model.”|
“My story resonated with so many women dealing with insecurities, but they never talk about them publicly,” Rice told For Her. “For me, I was speaking up and saying, ‘Hey, we are all in this together, now lets change our mindset and begin to love ourselves and stop wishing we looked like someone else. I can’t say that I never have a day where I think, ‘I wish I had perfectly pigmented skin.’ But coming forward has given me a confidence that I’ve never had before.”
That new sense of self has also given Rice a new sense of purpose, too: “At this point in my life, I would rather be a role model than a perfect looking model (or cover my face to appear that way). I want to be real, and talk about issues that nobody talks about, and have an impact on people’s lives in a good way.”
✨✨This week I had quite a bit of direct sun exposure on my face, which I haven't had in quite some time. When I get direct sun exposure, it tans my olive skin and leaves my vitiligo bright white, as it lacks skin pigment, making it more noticeable. I noticed after my day of sun and fun, that my forehead had newly developed vitiligo in small clusters. I'm not going to lie, I freaked out. The day after I gave a talk on nutrition for autoimmune disease and how I've worked on healing my gut and my vitiligo has not spread an ounce in years(and I've gotten some pigment back) I notice some new developments. I didn't want to get upset and tried to just pretend I didn't notice, but when I think about it, what person would not be upset that they are losing pigment on their face? It is very upsetting, but it's me. It's my life and my story. Stuff happens. It's life. Everyone has insecurities. EVERYONE. We are all going to face something, a circumstance, issue(maybe health related), an insecurity ect. It's how we choose to react to these things that will determine how our life story will come about. Maybe you have something you're insecure about, or are going through a rough situation or health issue. Don't let it define you or steal your joy. Learning to love yourself with your insecurities and being okay with just being YOU is a magical thing. The people who belong in your life will love you for who you are, and want to join you along your journey ✨✨ #vitiligo #autoimmune #autoimmunedisease #encouragement #vitiligolove #beauty #digestion #selflove #immune #allergy #holistichealth #womenencouragingwomen #loveyourself #inspire #beyou #health #naturalhealth #organic #nutrition #food #foodie #speaker #nature
Rice’s words are as beautiful as she is. Though it certainly is hard to reveal “imperfections” to the world (especially ones that elicit questions like, “What happened to your face?” as Rice often hears), it’s worth being brave, and choosing to love yourself instead of hiding. Rice says because of that, she’s sticking with her decision not to cover up.
Of course, make-up can be fun and make us feel beautiful, but inner beauty and self-love always win the day. Hearing Rice’s story reminds us all not to hide our true selves, even when it’s hard, or we feel we don’t measure up. It boils down to this: What makes us different makes us beautiful. We are all unique, perfectly imperfect human beings.
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