Writing a letter to your body is incredibly empowering. For me, it was allowing myself to write freely about how I once felt about my skin without fear of judgement. Recognising some very difficult years that shaped my teen years and most of my twenties.
Sharing this letter with you, the reader, wasn’t easy. As I press the button to make the feature live, I felt a sense of vulnerability as I share with you a snippet of how I once felt and which comes with guilt. But, amongst the vulnerability, I recognise that so many of you will likely be able to relate because so many of us have gone through very difficult periods with our skin, some of us still doing so. How we feel is valid.
The days when I hated my skin is firmly in my past and now it’s time for me to apologise. Apologise for the negative self-talk, disguising it at every moment, feeling ashamed and not appreciating what my skin was actually doing for me, like protecting my organs, and whilst I do feel a sense of guilt, I also feel proud that I’ve worked on strengthening my mindset which has lead me to appreciating every single patch that remains on my body.
Here is my letter to my body.
I know I’ve given you a tough time. Said hateful things I shouldn’t have. Hidden you away in shame because I feared other peoples stares and judgements, and smothered you in camouflage makeup and fake tan for years just so no one would notice you.
Society told me that you were best off covered; that you didn’t quite fit in with the status quo. Magazines, advertising and TV were all silent nudges that indirectly told me that people like me weren’t desirable. I wanted you to be like what I saw in my favourite teen magazines. Just Seventeen, Sugar, Bliss…remember those? All the girls looked perfect. Bright white teeth, glossy brown hair and white skin without a blemish or scar in sight. I desperately wanted to look like them and instead I had you and I hated it. So many times I wished that i’d wake up one morning and you would have disappeared. Of course, that never happened.
I pretended you didn’t exist when you were loud enough to be noticed and avoided talking about you preferring to hush you quiet if anyone enquired about what you was or why you looked the way you did. I didn’t understand why you had crept up on me with a single spot on my hand when I was 3 years old and I didn’t understand why you decided to spread either. I hated how unpredictable you was.
You stopped me from doing the simplest things. Wearing shorts in the summer, enjoying swimming lessons at school and feeling desirable by boys. I didn’t have a single boyfriend during my secondary school years and for me that was the determiner of whether I was pretty or not and clearly I wasn’t. You even ruined my dream of becoming a world class athlete because the thought of wearing the shorts the runners wore on TV was too much for me to think about.
Thankfully these are moments I now reflect on and are no longer part of my present. I realise these were unhealthy thoughts and behaviours that shaped who I was in my late teens and twenties but I also recognise this was all part of my journey which has lead me to where I am today.
I love that we started to work together. That we grew together. You encouraged me to strengthen my mindset and really focus on what was important to me and why those around me shouldn’t influence how I feel about myself. With time and patience I started to love and appreciate your uniqueness. I looked at the formation of your patches and realised that there was beauty in vitiligo. Our story is very different now.
Now, I show you to the world because I’m proud you’re mine. Summer, which was once such a difficult season for me, is no longer an issue because I don’t fear wearing shorts, t-shirts or summer dresses that show off my legs. I wear makeup when I want to rather than feeling like I have to. People compliment you and in return, I openly have conversations about what you are and why you show up with me everyday. You make me look amazing in swimwear and even though you still attract the stares, mindset has helped me to look past what others might be thinking. We’ve come a long way and now it’s your time to shine.
I’ll never feel fear with you again.