You’ve held me together for over 40 years, so you could say I have so much to be grateful to you for, but in truth, it hasn’t always been easy between us. Until 20 years ago, I hadn’t given much thought to you. I would have described you as convenient, healthy, olive, soft, and trouble-free. I barely noticed the tiny white patches that started to appear around my knuckles and wrists, and around the corners of my mouth. In truth, I avoided acknowledging the changes as long as I could.
I wanted to be wrong about you at a time when I was externalizing my happiness and enjoying the freedom that I had yearned for all my life. When I started to recognize the changes, I was at my beauty peak. I was finally happy with my looks and did not want anything to change or rock the proverbial boat. I had a great job earning more money than I knew what to do with and plenty of party friends who were ready to help me spend it. The last thing I wanted to do was acknowledge that I was running on empty and turning away from that screaming voice inside that was my higher self.
The year I turned 25, I had no choice but to face the changes fast attacking my whole body. The dermatologist diagnosed me with vitiligo, an autoimmune condition that causes the de-pigmentation of the skin, turning normal skin into white patches that can grow at an alarming rate. I had never heard of this condition, which later became famous for the skin “thing” Michael Jackson claimed was turning him from black to white. I was told that it would only get worse and that there was no cure.
I felt like I had been punched in the gut. “Why me?” was my initial thought. I felt victimized and horrified at the thought of you, my beautiful radiant skin, disappearing into milky white patches. My self-esteem was shattered, and I panicked. I was angry and ashamed, and I blamed you.
I told myself that I was damaged goods. I spent a chunk of time and money trying to fix myself with all sorts of potions and lotions. I traveled all over the world seeking answers for my problems. Every time I looked into the mirror, I would find more patches and more reasons to find myself unacceptable. I wore clothes to hide my skin and felt the burn of self-consciousness when I walked into any room. I stayed on the periphery so as not to get noticed. I felt my potential growing inside me, but I lacked confidence to shine my light brightly. I didn’t know where in the world I belonged or what I wanted to do.
When a work colleague handed me a voucher for a ten-day yoga pass, it was the first time I remember hearing my soul’s voice. There was something deep inside of me yearning for healing, connection, and purpose. Within five months of that first yoga class, I quit my corporate job to become a yoga teacher and set off to do teacher training halfway across the world in LA.
This leap of faith catapulted me into an awakening of all things spiritual. It was only then that I began to understand that my vitiligo had rich significance for my soul’s growth. I was here to learn the powerful lesson of unconditional self-acceptance and self-love. There would be no cutting corners this time.
I began the slow crawl out of my deep dark hole of playing the victim at my own pity party. I became tired of the uninspiring drama and low vibration I was creating for myself. I began to witness how I and so many other women base our self-worth on our attractiveness and how we are perceived by others. I could literally feel the energy draining out of me as I chronically compared myself to other beautiful women in the room. I discovered that I was not alone in this.
Ironically, all I wanted back then was to fit in and look like everyone else. I couldn’t connect with my value and unique gifts just waiting for my own embrace. The more the white patches spread all over my body, the deeper into spirituality I would dive, seeking insights into the truth of who I was. The more translucent and invisible my skin became, the more important it became for me to show up fully and authentically, just as I am. The more authentically I would show up, the more integrated and aligned my life began to feel.
One day at a time, my skin showed me the way toward a life lived with integrity, where my outer world began aligning with my inner potential. The byproduct of repeatedly listening to my soul’s voice was a deep love and compassion for myself and every single thing I had gone through in my life that caused me pain. It was only when I could hold my own feelings of shame, anger, and humiliation with tenderness that I felt empowered enough to face the world.
Today, walking in the world with vitiligo means my confidence and presence come from a much deeper place of knowing the truth of who I am and what I stand for. I feel my radiance shining from an inner world that has been fertilized by compassion, deep understanding, vulnerability, humility, and honesty. I still have days where I struggle with my skin, but more often than not, I see that true beauty and magnetism absolutely shine from inside us all.
I now source my true value from a reference point beyond attractiveness and desirability. The truth is, the more I value and care for myself from a deeper place, the more sensual, beautiful, and radiant I am. Vitiligo has inspired my journey toward self-care and showing up for myself in ways that anchor me in my body. Giving myself a daily oil massage infuses the energy and message of love, worthiness, and acceptance into my skin. Feeding myself food, juices, and treats that harmonize my constitution combined with spiritual practices such as meditation and connecting to source energy helps me feel connected to the truth that life is organizing around my success.
Living from this place, I am able to love and care for others in a more authentic way. My attention, which had been previously consumed in judgment, fear, and criticism, can now be gifted to those I love most. The blessings of marriage and motherhood have given me more joy and meaning than I could ever express in words. These beautiful souls remind me to keep showing up and rising into the fullness of who I am here to become, in spite of my health challenges and setbacks.
For me, the saddest stories are the ones where people stay stuck playing small and investing in their doubts, especially women who fear taking up space and becoming visible—or who dim their light because of some perceived struggle or flaw. My deepest hope is that we all realize our greatest potentials in spite of our circumstances and setbacks. Isn’t this what Earth School is all about?
I was fortunate enough to see that my own perceived flaw turned out to be my greatest strength—and the gateway to supporting others through their struggles, doubts, insecurities, and fears. Today, I am more energized than ever to share my message and light the way for as many others as possible to come out of the shadows and walk in their full potential.
It’s time to dissolve the pressure to be perfect, to push against the airbrushed images of starving models and teach our girls the gift of true self-worth. We can all go deeper and discover the radiance that is waiting to be nurtured from within.
Skin: I breathe through you each day, and you serve me selflessly. I am humbled that you chose me to send your message to step out and shine my light, giving others permission to shine theirs, too.
Vitiligo: I can’t imagine my life without you. You are the stamp and blueprint of my soul.
Loving you as we wrinkle, fade and grow old together,