“Mom, I’m glad you’re not wearing that make up anymore. That means you are feeling better about yourself,” my eight-year-old daughter said as she picked up a makeup brush. Standing next to me in the mirror, she began to sweep it across her face emulating what she had seen me do. Stunned, it took me a second to ask her what she meant.
“You aren’t trying to cover up your spots, so that must mean you feel better about yourself. You are beautiful just the way you are, “she replied when I asked her to explain.
In that split second, I felt like a living, breathing oxymoron, both a failure and a success. A success for teaching my daughter such valuable lessons and a failure for not living them .
The spots she was referring to were vitiligo, a skin disorder that in only one to two percent of the world’s population causes loss of pigment. Fresh out of a divorce, I began to develop the disorder that is harmless physically but crushing mentally. In my mind, it was a freak occurrence, and I was the freak it was happening to.
Daily, I felt the vitiligo adding more weight to the relentless battering ram pounding away at my self -esteem. Seeking some sort of relief from the torment brought about by seeing the white patches grow bigger by the day, I had resorted to wearing heavy corrective makeup on my neck and arms in an attempt to even out my skin tone. Although it wasn’t a perfect match, it saved my children and me the embarrassment of having to tolerate ignorant comments and field annoying questions. At least that’s what I thought.
What I didn’t know was that my children didn’t care about the comments and questions. They cared about me. I was hiding behind the makeup to cover up my own lack of confidence, not their lack of confidence in me. They loved me completely as I was, for me… the real me. Not for the color of my hair or eyes or skin. To them I was mom, not a reflection in the mirror.
Many times I had told my children they were perfect just as they were, but it wasn’t until that day, that I felt those words applied to me as well. I decided, in that moment, to focus on reflecting my inner beauty to the world. I walked out of the bathroom with no makeup to hide behind but I didn’t need it, because I had the love of my children behind me. And not even vitiligo could take that away.