Dear Oprah,

For anyone who remembers the original Oprah Winfrey Show, they used to have a place on their website where people could submit potential episode topics. Way back in 2007, when I was living in Illinois, I sent in an entry. I can’t remember what exactly happened that triggered me to write to the producers that day, but here’s what I submitted…

When I was 16, I developed a skin disorder called vitiligo – an autoimmune deficiency where my pigment cells destroy themselves. For years, I used cover-up makeup. I was too ashamed and embarrassed at what people might say or think. Then it started to spread to my hands and face, where no amount of make-up would cover the problem, not on the outside, and certainly not on the inside. By 22, my upper body lost about 70% of its pigment. I went from having flawless skin, not even a pimple throughout puberty, to having a skin tone that ranges from albino to black.

My high school senior picture. Class of (cough cough). lol

I never wanted to look like models on tv or in magazines. My struggle was with images of my old self. I couldn’t even fathom how my boyfriend still thought I was beautiful. Even though I moved across country to start grad school and was discussing marriage, I still couldn’t see my value, and was depressed. My boyfriend’s parents insisted against our relationship because of my skin color. They didn’t want their grandkids to get vitiligo and said I would make their son’s life miserable; that people would always stare and isolate us. They were verbalizing all of my fears. On the outside, I appeared strong, but after they scratched at the issue for a year and a half, my internal damage was exposed and in need of serious repair and restoration.

I was forced to teach myself to love and appreciate my unique beauty, inside and out. When someone loves you, it’s not just for your outward appearance because that can change overnight. It did with me, and my family didn’t deny me. My friends didn’t forsake me. People really cared more about me than my looks.

I was beautiful then. I am beautiful now. Not because of my skin color, but my spirit and personality. The attention I sought from men, I didn’t really want. I want relationships based on more than the physical because I have so much more to offer and deserve better. I now focus on helping others, especially young ladies, to know that they are beautiful, just as God made them.

Looking back and reading this again, I can’t believe I actually submitted it. That I was willing to tell my story. I am proud of my younger self for being willing to be vulnerable so that someone could find strength. I invite readers to share snippets of their own story in the comments to encourage someone else.

1 thought on “Dear Oprah,

  1. I think you are an amazing person and a role model. You are strong, beautiful and a brilliant writer. My daughter was diagnosed at the age of 6. And I have always worried about how she would face the world or what the future will be like for her. Reading your posts gives me the confidence to talk to her about her vitiligo.
    Thank you so much for doing this 🙏

    Like

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