Model Behavior is an A Plus series featuring fashion models who promote body positivity, and work to create inclusivity and diversity within the industry by expanding our definition of conventional beauty.
UPDATE: This article has been adjusted to include comments from Breanne Rice.
Makeup is a powerful tool. It can be something that is fun and allows you to show off the beautiful features that make you unique. On the other hand, it can be used as something to hide a part of yourself that you don't feel comfortable with.
For many years, model and holistic nutritional therapy practitioner Breanne Rice used makeup for the latter reason. Rice has vitiligo, an autoimmune disorder that causes the skin to lose pigment on different areas of the face and body. She was diagnosed with the condition at 19, and spent most of her 20s hiding it under layers of foundation and concealer.
After 10 years of covering up her skin condition, Rice decided to embrace her natural beauty.
In March, Rice posted a beautiful barefaced photo of herself on Instagram. She wrote about her struggle of learning to love herself and to accept her vitiligo as a beautifully unique feature that is all her own. She also promoted a positive message to others about the importance of self-love and embracing who you are.
"At 19, I was diagnosed with vitiligo, and it spread rapidly causing me to lose over half of the pigment on my face. Yeah. Not the bottom of my foot or my arm..but ONLY on my face. I got really good at doing my makeup, and I didn't want anyone to know about it. I couldn't look in the mirror without crying, and feeling unattractive. When I am exposed to the sun, it tans my healthy skin and leaves my vitiligo even more noticeable. It's taken me a very long time to be able to go public with this, and to walk around publicly without any makeup. Why? Because it's my face. Although I would like to say I am super confident and it never gets to me, sometimes it does. Some days people make comments saying 'what happened to your face?!' Sometimes if I have a crush on someone I am worried about them seeing me without makeup and worry that they won't think I'm cute. It's like ohh hey by the way ... this is the real me underneath all this. You know what though, I own it. There's not much I can do about it. I can only love myself, and not let my circumstances define my value or self-worth. What is the definition of beautiful anyway? Is it being perfect? What do you see when you look in the mirror? Perhaps you have a circumstance or something about yourself that you are insecure about. Don't let it define you. You deserve love, and you are beautiful."
Now Rice regularly posts photos of herself without makeup with positive captions about loving yourself for exactly who you are. She told A Plus she hopes sharing her story will inspire others to feel confident in their own skin.
"Many of us women have an ideal image or standard of perfection that we compare ourselves to, and it consumes our thoughts and lives," she said. "I spent my 20s covering up my condition so that I appeared to have perfectly pigmented skin, and it consumed me. When I finally learned to love myself and accepted how I am unique, I gained confidence that I've never had before and I want to help others do the same."
Her message about self-worth is something people who are also struggling with their confidence can identify with.
"Coming forward has given me a confidence that I've never had before," Rice told A Plus. "At this point in my life, I would rather be a role model than a perfect looking model or cover my face to appear that way. I want to be real, and talk about issues that nobody talks about, and have an impact on people's lives in a good way. I think we really need people to lead the way in this area, and if it starts with me, I'm willing to take on that task full force."
"Now, I'm proud of who I am, and I won't allow the fact that I have vitiligo to make me feel that I am not just as beautiful without makeup." She said. "At this time in my life, I wear makeup because I actually enjoy it and I like wearing it and creating different looks with outfits, not because I want to hide anymore."
(H/T: Elite Daily)