By Martin Ruffell
THIS WOMAN met her husband on an online dating app after believing her love life was DOOMED because of the patchy skin covering her body.
Director of accounting, Tiffany Taylor from Pennsylvania, USA, developed the rare skin condition vitiligo when she was just 14 years old. Those affected by vitiligo have a lack of a pigment called melanin in their skin causing white patches to appear in affected areas.
Growing up, Tiffany would do everything in her power to hide her vitiligo, worried at how strangers and friends would react. She would cover her pigment-free patches of skin in copious amounts of makeup to avoid people noticing her ever-spreading condition.
Uncomfortable in her skin and low on confidence, Tiffany’s love life was unsuccessful as she believed that she was not attractive enough to find love. She met compliments directed towards her with scepticism as she thought these could not be genuine.
In the relationships she did have, Tiffany would always seek approval from her partners due to a lack of confidence – something she now realises must have been difficult for boyfriends to hear time and time again.
It wasn’t until autumn 2017 that Tiffany finally decided to show the world and more importantly herself that her vitiligo was part of her identity and should no longer be hidden.
Inspired by photos of other people with vitiligo online, Tiffany had professional photos taken of her skin without makeup which quickly gained attention on social media. The positive feedback she received from numerous strangers gave her a huge boost in confidence.
By the time Tiffany met web developer, Randolphe Jacques on a dating app in summer 2018, her confidence in herself was at an all-time high. For Randolphe, Tiffany’s vitiligo was no issue, and he was immediately drawn to her sophistication and ambition.
In September 2019, the couple got engaged and they were married in July 2020.
Tiffany does receive occasional negative comments, with some people bluntly asking what is wrong with her skin and others staring at her when she goes out. Luckily, these insensitive comments are dwarfed by the positivity she receives.
“Growing up, my vitiligo was something I was so insecure about,” Tiffany said.
“I wore makeup to cover it from the day I found out.
“My dating life and relationships prior to my husband were always doomed because I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin.
“I always thought I was not attractive enough and found it hard to accept compliments.
“Seeking constant approval isn’t the most attractive quality in someone so it made it hard for me to be a confident partner.
“It’s hard to hear someone you care about constantly talking down on themselves.
“If it was an issue for partners, they didn’t tell me.
“I realised that I was more of the issue when it came to romantic relationships.
“I needed to be a happy person alone to be a successful partner to someone.
“When I started my relationship with Randolphe, I had reached a place where I was confident enough to love and have a greater empathy for a partner because I finally had it for myself. I was able to love more and accept love.
“The proposal was a total surprise. He wanted to take a walk along this trail where we had gone on our third date. It was a perfect moment where he could have kissed me for the first time, but he didn’t.
“He never forgot about it and took me back there. This time, he got down on one knee and proposed. I said yes.
“Our wedding day had to be reimagined because of the pandemic.
“We had planned for an outside ceremony, so we were able to keep our original venue but had to reduce the guest count and change the seating setup to be properly spaced out.
“There was a beautiful arch, flower petals down the aisle, and a trickle sound from a creek flowing nearby.
“We kept it short and sweet, but still did everything that you would do on a regular wedding day.
“Our first dance was so special. We had it in the middle of the aisle which was covered in flower petals.
“For every one-hundred positive compliments I receive online, there’s always going to be a hater or someone being negative.
“I have learned to focus on the good and positive in life. It’s so much more uplifting than doing the opposite.”
Tiffany’s vitiligo has continued to spread across her face, arms and body.
However, being able to finally accept these changes has meant that Tiffany doesn’t face a future filled with trepidation as she once did, but instead enters married life with a new sense of confidence.
The newlyweds can’t wait to finally head to St Lucia for their delayed honeymoon in 2021.
“My skin is still changing, but I continue to take on the changes with confidence,” Tiffany said.
“In the past, I let insecurity hold me back from being confident in everyday situations.
“I was always insecure and jealous, thinking why would someone want to be with me simply because of my skin.
“Randolphe quickly didn’t notice my vitiligo. He saw beyond my skin into my heart and actions.
“I’m finally free and am thankful for every day I choose to stop hiding.”