Sammy Nickalls
August 22, 2015 7:10 am

When  24-year-old Tiffany Posteraro was a little girl — just seven years old — white patches started to develop on her knees. Soon, the patches spread all over her body. “I showed my parents but we just thought they must be scars or something . . . We had no idea what it was,” she said. “A dermatologist gave me some ointment but it did nothing.”

Four years later, she learned about her condition not from a doctor, but from a man at the grocery store who saw her when she was doing errands with her mother at age 11. He told her that she has vitiligo — a skin disorder which causes loss of pigment due to a lack of melanin in those areas.

Unfortunately, though she was happy to know what was causing the patches, there was no way she could stop it, and as the patches spread, she started to be bullied. “People stared and made nasty comments,” she said, listing off a few of the names she heard: “cow,” “Dalmatian,” and “burn victim.” “A few boys in my class told me, ‘I can’t date you because of this,'” she said. “It was horrible.”

Tiffany began to cover up, wearing layers of clothing and applying thick makeup to the affected areas. “I tried everything possible to cover it up,” she said. “I got really dark spray tans and used industrial-strength foundation, the kind used to cover deep scars. I covered my legs and arms most of the time, even in the sweltering heat, and would avoid pool parties because it meant wearing a bikini.”

But everything changed when Tiffany met a fellow vitiligo sufferer in Ikea. “I was so excited I went straight over to her and said, ‘You have vitiligo – so do I,'” she explained. “She told me about various support groups and Facebook communities I never knew existed. It was so empowering. After that I just thought, why should I hide who I am? It’s exhausting. Now I only wear a little bit of make-up and the rest of my body I don’t cover at all. I wear shorts and don’t care what anyone thinks.”

Then, Tiffany decided to get the most rad tattoo to make others think twice before staring and making rude comments. . . all while displaying her own acceptance of her skin and body after years of covering up. She got the words “It’s called vitiligo” inked in a beautiful script on her skin, right over some of the white patches.

The tattoo makes others feel more comfortable asking Tiffany about her condition so she can raise awareness. “I was sick of the stares,” she said. “I just wanted to say, ‘come on, ask me what it is.’ [The tattoo is] over my forearm and wrist and goes over white patches, so it’s perfect. It’s very liberating. For me it makes it much easier to handle the stares.”

Though it’s been hard to grow up with the skin condition, it’s helped Tiffany, she explained. “I believe I am a better person and a more empathetic person for having vitiligo,” she said. “I don’t look at someone and focus on their flaws. Flaws to one person are beautiful to another.”

Amen. We love that Tiffany took something so difficult and transformed it into a learning experience, not only for herself, but for everyone she comes into contact with. Thanks, Tiffany, for sharing your amazing story. You are absolutely beautiful, inside and out.

(Images via Twitter)

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