By Martin Ruffell
THIS WOMAN spent hours crying in front of the mirror each day after white patches of skin began taking over her body – until bodybuilding gave her back her confidence.
Aged just 14, personal trainer Antonia Livers (27) from Utah, USA, noticed white spots forming on her eyelids. Not knowing what these were, she went to the doctor where she was diagnosed with a rare skin condition called vitiligo.
Those with vitiligo have a lack of a pigment called melanin in their skin causing white patches to appear in affected areas.
As a teenager, Antonia hid her vitiligo with makeup to avoid any unwanted comments from her classmates. Vitiligo patches spread to her arms and legs and Antonia also wore long sleeve t-shirts and trousers so that strangers couldn’t judge her.
Completely covered, Antonia managed to avoid negative comments regarding her appearance.
However, with her makeup and long sleeves removed, Antonia couldn’t help but judge herself and spent hours each day looking at her patchwork skin in the mirror and crying. Antonia hated the way she looked, believing that her vitiligo made her ugly. She felt angry that a skin condition that she had never heard of before her diagnosis was ruining her life.
Antonia’s insecurities surrounding her appearance often prevented her from dating for fear of what potential boyfriends would think of her.
In her late teens, she turned to fitness, visiting the gym at least four times per week where she did both cardio and weight training. For Antonia, pushing her body to the limit of its capabilities served as an opportunity to release the stress she felt because of her vitiligo.
Antonia was able to control how her body looked and the way she felt in a way that she couldn’t control her skin.
In 2017, Antonia moved from her childhood home in Cologne, Germany, to Utah, USA, after meeting her personal trainer husband, Poppy Livers (28) when he was in Germany playing American football.
On arriving in the US, Antonia was able to land her dream job as a personal trainer. Becoming fitter and gaining more confidence in her appearance, Antonia began to overcome some of the insecurities that had plagued her teenage years.
Today, Antonia is proud to post pictures showing off her vitiligo on Instagram and receives comments from strangers saying that she is a ‘multicoloured beauty’ and an inspiration.
“I found the first spots on my eyelids when I was just fourteen years old,” Antonia said.
“When you’re fourteen you don’t want to look different to other girls.
“I would just stand in front of the mirror and cry every single day.
“I was telling myself every single day, ‘How ugly am I? Why do I look like this?’
“I never asked for those white spots, I never wanted them back then.
“I was so insecure about myself and I let it affect my relationship with my boyfriend back then and, more importantly, my relationship with myself.
“I would wear long sleeves, t-shirts and long trousers just so random strangers couldn’t judge me.
“I would always be wearing makeup to make sure no-one knew about my vitiligo.
“As I grew older my white spots were growing too.
“I fell in love with fitness which helped me overcome my insecurities.
“I went from self-hate to self-acceptance and finally to self-love and appreciation.
“I started working on my body which led to working on my mind.
“I got physically stronger which had a huge impact on my mental strength.
“My job literally saved my relationship with myself. Realising this still makes me tear up today.
“I helped myself out of that dark place just by being active and being good to myself.”
Although Antonia’s vitiligo has continued to spread across her body, she has no intention to hide her unique skin and is purely focused on improving her own life and the lives of those she coaches.
“It’s great to be different,” Antonia said.
“Average never made it to the top, so find your insecurities and turn them into some badass strength.
“I seriously love what I’m doing. I love helping people on their individual health and fitness journeys.
“I truly couldn’t imagine a better job than seeing people getting better, both physically and mentally.
“For me, working out is my therapy.
“We have to control what we are able to control in our lives.”