For twelve years, she was dominated by what was happening to her body, determined to hide what she perceived to be the flaws of her condition.
When she was 19 years old, Breanne Rice was diagnosed with vitiligo. She tells People that the condition started as a small spot just below her left eye, but soon it spread across her face.
Vitiligo is a disease that causes the loss of skin color in blotches. It can appear anywhere on the body and it happens when the cells that produce melanin die or stop function. It is not life-threatening, but there is no cure.
As a young model in her 20's, this was a devastating blow to her self-worth and her career.
"My face was everything, and I was constantly striving for perfection," she says. "When I started to get really sick, I felt like I couldn't control [the vitiligo]. And I didn't want anyone to know about it."
She says that she spent the next 12 years following an exhaustive routine of applying layers of makeup to hide the discoloration of her skin. She would spend hours gradually layering thick concealer over the pale spots on her face.
"I felt like I had to cancel out all these things on my face to look normal." She says, "it was a long process everyday to get outside."
Until finally, she had enough. Earlier this year, she publicly revealed her bare face to the world. Vitiligo would no longer consume her identity. She was so honest about her fears, particularly when it comes to dating:
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.
In spite of her doubts, she has embraced her condition and shared a message of love for anyone else struggling with insecurities:
"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...."
"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."
Now, Rice works as a Nutritional Therapist in Seattle, and will be featured in the Discovery Channel's Too Ugly For Love? A series airing on TLC UK that follows people with medical conditions that impact their everyday lives, relationships and careers.
"It only takes one person to make an impact, and you never know what one powerful decision can do." She says, "All of these opportunities presented themselves when I was vulnerable and decided I wanted to make an impact, and to help inspire others to love themselves and feel beautiful and confident in their own skin."
We couldn't have said it better.
It can take a lot of self love and patience to get to this kind of confidence and acceptance. Do you live with a condition that makes it difficult for you to socialize? Let us know how you've overcome it in the comments below!
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