Today we have an extraordinary person speaking to us! Body and skin confidence is hard to achieve, especially in a world where we are basically shown what the “right” way to look is. Today Penny Betts (Click here to check out her blog) is going to open up to us and speak about how she achieved to look beyond her own skin.
I know that no woman is born confident and powerful. For some, it takes years to build up enough confidence to look in the mirror and feel good about the person staring back at her. Some people suffer from extreme anxieties about their bodies and struggle with body confidence. We even hear comments day to day…
“Look at her.. what’s wrong with her skin?”
“Didn’t she apply her fake tan properly? Her skin’s all blotchy!”
“Looks like she needs a bath! Look at the dirt on her skin!”
“Do you think she had bleach thrown at her?”
“She must be an albino.”
“I don’t want to touch her. She might be contagious.”
…Just some of the comments that I’ve heard throughout my adult life, directed at me because of a skin condition that I have called Vitiligo.
You may have seen or heard about celebrities who have the condition. Richard Hammond, Sisqo, Holly Marie Combs (PLL) and most famously, of course, Michael Jackson.
It’s caused by a lack of melanin, which is a pigment in the skin. It is believed that Vitiligo can sometimes be brought on by stress, or auto-immune conditions, such as hyper/hypothyroidism, which I also have. And I’m a self-confessed stresshead, so y’know… could be either.
But don’t worry, you definitely can’t catch it, and you’re not at risk from anyone who has it.
I noticed the first patches appear under my arms, just before my 18th birthday. At first, I didn’t think much of it. It was annoying as I didn’t know what it was or what was causing it, but figured since it was in a place that was easily covered, it wasn’t worth worrying too much about. But throughout that same year, patches started appearing in the creases of my arms, my inner thighs and even on my forehead, and suddenly I began to panic and wonder what the hell was happening to me.
At the time, I was a fairly successful model in the gothic/alternative scene, booking photo shoots with photographers all over the UK, and was even lucky enough to make the front cover of an alternative clothing magazine, so my confidence was high and I was doing really well in all areas. But, as the patches became worse, I became quite concerned that my uneven skin tone could put photographers off, and eventually, I became so self-conscious that I decided to stop modelling altogether.
I no longer felt comfortable in my own skin.
Not to put too much of an emotional point on it, but there were times I felt so disgusted with my body that I tried to scrub at my patches in desperate attempts to remove them. I used to stand there, in front of the mirror, looking at myself crying because there was nothing I could do to stop my skin from changing colour.
It was completely my own issue, and I do think that majority of it was all in my own head. However, the pointing, sniggering, laughing.. it was like “mean girls” but the adult version. It made me realise that bullying really doesn’t stop in the playground. But now, having grown up quite a lot since my early twenties, everything’s in a little bit more perspective. Yeah, sure my skin looks uneven in tone and to some people that is going to look a little weird.
But AT LEAST I AM HEALTHY.
My skin is a cosmetic issue, and it’s just a vanity thing. If I cared enough, I could get coverage makeup, or apply fake tan, but I choose not to cover it. My organs work perfectly, I have all my limbs and senses. So, when you really think about it, what’s a few white patches here and there?
I’ve seen so many people lately speak out about having Vitiligo, and all the psychological stress it can bring. I’m fortunate that I’m quite a strong person, and I haven’t allowed my condition to affect my mental health in such a way that I can’t cope with it. But, I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t affect me at all because it has in the past.
I’ve accepted my condition and have now been able to embrace everything that comes with living with Vitiligo. I can now look in the mirror and the patches aren’t the first thing I see anymore. Staring back at me is a different version of me.
Successful, powerful, strong and confident.
So, ladies, take it from someone who knows, body confidence isn’t an easy thing to achieve, but all those tiny little imperfections that seem giant issues to you, they don’t even matter. You’re a beautiful person, inside and out.
Well, we definitely have Penny Betts to thank for this wonderful piece and being so open to us. So Beauties, learn from her and keep slaying.
– XoXo Pretty Penny, and yours truly TheQueen.