By Liana Jacob
MEET the vitiligo beauty queen who hid her skin for years until one day she posted a picture of herself as supermodel Winnie Harlow for Halloween which received international attention and recognition from the Winnie herself.
Accounting manager, Tiffany Taylor, from Philadelphia, USA, was only 14 when she noticed the first white spot on her face, as she was just entering high school, she says the timing was devastating and led her to hide her condition with makeup.
It wasn’t until October 31, 2017, when she went to a Halloween party without any makeup dressed up as supermodel and vitiligo advocate, Winnie Harlow, that she decided to fully embrace her stunning look.
She received an overwhelmingly positive response that boosted her confidence to post it on her Instagram page that was immediately picked up by Winnie Harlow herself, who shared it on her Instagram, gathering over 83,000 ‘likes’.
“I received a lot of positive feedback from friends and family I was afraid to expose my skin to. Also, I tagged her in the photo, and she shared it,” Tiffany said.
“I was revealed to so many by this who had mostly positive things to say. I started paying more attention to Winnie Harlow, and other women with vitiligo who have chosen to embrace their skin.
“They looked happy, and not miserable as I guess I previously thought I would be if I did so. I started wearing less, and less makeup, and that one day in December I chose not to cover it any longer at all. My world did not end.
“Embracing my skin is something I have wanted to do forever, it was just getting to the point that I was comfortable to do so.
“I was fourteen when I noticed the first spot of vitiligo on my face. It was devastating, at the time. I was about to enter high school; a time where young women are self-conscience about almost everything.
“My family supported me covering the vitiligo with makeup which was their way of dealing best as they knew how.
“I always had close, and supportive friends (some who are still my friends today), so I was blessed to never feel alienated because of the skin condition. As it started on my face, I was able to hide it all of high school and most of college.
“December 20, 2017, was the first day I went to work without any makeup to hide my vitiligo. I haven’t worn any to hide it since.
“It was a three-month process that I gradually started embracing my look when I did a makeup-free photo shoot in September.
“I feel great. I am learning to love my skin as it is, and as it changes. I see new spots appearing, and I’ve finally accepted that this is out of my control.
“It’s a part of me, and it makes me unique. I don’t have to worry that if I hug someone, am I going to get makeup on them?
“Or with dating, what’s going to happen when they see what I really look like? It’s so much more comfortable. I have nothing to hide, now.”
As a way of embracing her look, Tiffany decided to do a photoshoot of her look without makeup as a reminder of her new fierce and confident attitude.
“I realised that I kept my skin hidden from even myself for almost all of the hours in the day for most of my life since the diagnosis,” she said.
“I wanted to get a photoshoot done to have pictures to hang up in my bedroom as a constant and everyday visual to myself that that was me.
“I wanted the photos to help me fall in love with me. It was not the plan to share them with social media as quickly as I did, but my post after Halloween’s response was a big confidence boost.
“I am still within this process. It’s not easy, but I am not one to back down from a challenge.”
In 2012, she revealed her true skin to a male friend who responded negatively. That moment always struck a chord with her and since embracing her skin, her attitude towards relationships changed.
“A few years ago, I showed a picture of myself without makeup to a male friend when I was asking for advice of how to tell a man I was dating about my skin,” Tiffany said.
“This was before it was clearly obvious on my hands, and I wore face makeup all the time (even to bed).
“His facial expression spoke negative volumes of shock, and his ‘lecture-toned voice in his response that, I should definitely tell him.
“This has always stuck with me, and made me feel like it was a huge deal and would be hard for a man to accept.
“Since I’ve ditched the makeup, I have become a more confident woman who knows I was wrong in thinking this way. A confident man will accept me for me, and not care about what others think of my natural appearance.
“You have to accept yourself. That is the first step to being at peace. This is your body, and you didn’t do anything to cause this. You should not hide what makes you unique. Love yourself, and love others.”
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