For years, 23-year-old Dionne Lees found it frustrating when people repeatedly commented on and stared at her vitiligo, a skin condition that causes missing pigment. So, she decided to take matters into her own hands and respond to those who mock her by getting the words “It’s called vitiligo” tattooed on her body.
The young Scottish woman used to be ashamed of her condition, turning to makeup and even medical treatments to try and reverse the effects, the Daily Mailreports. Lees first began to see white patches under her eyes around age 10, which prompted ignorant comments from those around her (many asked if she left her sunglasses on too long).
“I have had people scared of me due to fear of the unknown, parents people pulled their kids away like I was a monster, and then others asked if I was burned in a fire,” Lees said.
But overtime, and with the help of model Winnie Harlow’s openness about her struggles with the skin condition, Lees became to accept and embrace her vitiligo. She eventually got the tattoo on her thigh as a response to the confused stares she often receives. Now, instead of explaining her condition, she simply points to the tattoo.
“It’s kind of a symbol of full acceptance,” she said. “Vitiligo will be with me forever and so will this tattoo so it does mean so much to me.”
“I have stopped all treatment from the hospital, don’t wear make-up to cover up, and online I promote body positivity by posing in bikinis and shorts,” Lees continued. “Any opportunity I get to show off my skin, I do it. Whenever I can, I will always be in the sun because it brings out my vitiligo even more.”