Imagine you landed your dream career, and overnight, your qualifications were taken from you through no fault of your own. That’s what happened to 31-year-old Breanne Rice, a former model. About 12 years ago, Rice noticed a light spot on the skin underneath her eye. Soon enough, a flaw she chalked up to stress had become full-blown vitiligo, a skin condition that results in noticeable loss of pigment and blotches of discolored skin.
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, vitiligo is thought to be related to an autoimmune problem, but the cause is unknown. It can start at any age, and in Rice’s case, that age was 19.
But for Rice, a working model at the time, being less than perfect was not acceptable. So, according to the Daily Mail, the brunette beauty got into the habit of covering her face in a thick layer of foundation to even out her skin tone before she left the house — whether it was for a casting call or even to go to the gym. The process took 45 minutes each morning.
✨✨This week I had quite a bit of direct sun exposure on my face, which I haven’t had in quite some time. When I get direct sun exposure, it tans my olive skin and leaves my vitiligo bright white, as it lacks skin pigment, making it more noticeable. I noticed after my day of sun and fun, that my forehead had newly developed vitiligo in small clusters. I’m not going to lie, I freaked out. The day after I gave a talk on nutrition for autoimmune disease and how I’ve worked on healing my gut and my vitiligo has not spread an ounce in years(and I’ve gotten some pigment back) I notice some new developments. I didn’t want to get upset and tried to just pretend I didn’t notice, but when I think about it, what person would not be upset that they are losing pigment on their face? It is very upsetting, but it’s me. It’s my life and my story. Stuff happens. It’s life. Everyone has insecurities. EVERYONE. We are all going to face something, a circumstance, issue(maybe health related), an insecurity ect. It’s how we choose to react to these things that will determine how our life story will come about. Maybe you have something you’re insecure about, or are going through a rough situation or health issue. Don’t let it define you or steal your joy. Learning to love yourself with your insecurities and being okay with just being YOU is a magical thing. The people who belong in your life will love you for who you are, and want to join you along your journey ✨✨ #vitiligo #autoimmune #autoimmunedisease #encouragement #vitiligolove #beauty #digestion #selflove #immune #allergy #holistichealth #womenencouragingwomen #loveyourself #inspire #beyou #health #naturalhealth #organic #nutrition #food #foodie #speaker #nature
A photo posted by Breanne????Rice (@breannerice) on May 5, 2016 at 2:37pm PDT
Rice was so secretive about her condition that even her closest friends didn’t know she suffered from the skin disorder. But inside, she was scared. She consulted a doctor, who, “couldn’t find anything wrong with me,” she said, adding, “They didn’t know why my body was acting this way.” When she was finally diagnosed with vitiligo, she was told the foods she was eating were causing chronic inflammation in her digestive system. So she revamped her diet and started avoiding the foods that seemed to make her condition flare up.
But now, the Seattle native has made strides with regard to her self-esteem. She’s given up modeling and is focusing on being a full-time nutritional therapist. She believes her vitiligo was exacerbated by foods she was putting into her body without knowing she was allergic to them. She said of her condition: “I had to work on eating right, and now I eat a lot of fresh vegetables and organic foods. I will stick to my new diet, as it could trigger my condition. I don’t have cheat days. I also found out stress triggers the vitiligo so to relieve this I do hot yoga and meditation.”
According to the American Vitiligo Research Foundation, the condition affects just 1 percent of all racial groups. The cause of vitiligo is not known, but it’s thought to be, in part, genetic. One study concluded that 20 percent of people with vitiligo had inherited it, with children and siblings being at the highest risk. But environmental factors are thought to bring out the condition in people who are susceptible to it.
Rice won’t allow a rare skin disorder to dictate who she is, though, or make her feel less attractive. The former model, whose cheeks, nose, and chin are affected by vitiligo, says, “I won’t allow this condition to define whether or not I feel beautiful. I merely use my situation to help love and encourage others.” That said, she does still use cosmetics to cover up the condition — but she makes a point of sharing images of her face makeup-free, too, just to remind people that you don’t have to look perfect to be beautiful.
“In the last couple of years, I’ve been OK with how I look,” Rice said. “Last week I went to a restaurant with no make-up on. People do stare but I just tell myself, ‘They look at you because you’re beautiful.‘”