Amy Deanne was a high school senior when she first noticed the odd white spots on her hand.
“I began to get the spots on my face and that made me more self-conscious,” she told CNN.
Deanne had vitiligo, a condition that causes skin to lose its natural color. Six years later, her body marked by large pale swaths, Deanne is a model for cosmetics company CoverGirl.
Desperation and direction
Deanne initially reacted to her condition by heaping beauty products on her face to hide the patches.
“I’d bought hundreds of dollars’ worth of makeup. I looked really orange. It didn’t work.”
Then one day, a pep talk from her sister Annie changed everything.
“She said ‘you look fine without the makeup. You’re trying too hard. So just stop. You are beautiful just the way you are,'” recalled Deanne.
“It was in that moment I realized I was not doing this for me. I was doing this for people who are staring. So, I stopped using makeup.”
Now, she just applies foundation, not to hide her vitiligo, but to enhance what she sees as marks of beauty.
And as the first model with vitiligo that CoverGirl has featured, she’s sharing on a global platform the importance of embracing your own uniqueness.
The opportunity of a lifetime
“The opportunity to model for CoverGirl just fell from the sky and into my lap.” Deanne told CNN.
Modeling was just a hobby for her, a way to embrace her special look. She is one of many diagnosed with vitilagio who proudly posts images on social media with hashtags like #vitiligopride. When CoverGirl representatives found her on Instagram and asked her to take part in the I Am What I Make Up campaign, “I said ‘Uh, yea!'” Deanne excitedly recalls.
In the ad, she is shown using two different foundation shades and asking, “Why try to blend in when you can choose how to stand out?”
“To see this kind of outcome by being true to yourself while working hard, it is inspirational to myself,” she said.
The power of self-love
Deanne says the best way to move past what you may see as imperfection, is to “find out what you really love about yourself.”
“Falling in love with yourself is so important because I think a lot of the times I would find myself trying to ask other people ‘what is it that you like about me?'”
“Look in the mirror and tell yourself that you are beautiful. ‘I love the way my feet look. I love my hair.’ Focus on those small things. Be kind to yourself.”
Meanwhile, more folks with vitiligo are celebrating their unique looks on social media. You can find their stories with hashtags like #vitiligansOfInstagram and #girlswithvitiligo.