A woman with a heart-shaped vitiligo patch on her face has told how she finally found the courage to go makeup-free after 30 years of ‘wearing a mask’.
Denise Chamberlain, 42, was ten when a white spot appeared on her finger and led her to suspect the autoimmune disease had caused that area of her skin to lose pigment.
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Now the majority of her body is covered with white splotches, including her face which is adorned with a large marking in the shape of a heart.
But Ms Chamberlain, from Anderson, Indiana, USA, has revealed she no longer tries to cover her face after meeting a little girl with the same condition at a support group meeting and wanting her to embrace how different she looks.
Ms Chamberlain’s new-found confidence is a turnaround from the years she spent feeling depressed and suicidal by her skin.
She said: ‘I can’t tell you how many people have come up to me [since she ditched her make-up] and said about the heart on my face – the reaction I have got has been amazing,’ she said.
‘I feel like God has given me a second chance at life.’
Attempts to hide her appearance
Ms Chamberlain has vitiligo patches on her hands and other areas of her body including her scalp, gums, arms, feet and legs.
The mum-of-three said her striking make-up free appearance has resulted in strangers stopping her in the street to pay her compliments.
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But for three decades – from the ages of around ten to 40 – she masked her face and hands with a ‘blanket’ of foundation and concealer in a bid to hide her vitiligo.
She refused to leave the house bare-faced for fear of being stared at and was driven to the depths of depression, even considering suicide, because she hated her looks.
Ms Chamberlain estimates she spent around an hour a day applying makeup and splashed around $400-a-month (£282) on it over the 30 years – potentially as much as $144,000 (£102,000) in total.
Going au natural
She finally decided to ditch her makeup around two years ago after washing it off to encourage a young girl with the condition to embrace herself.
Since going au natural she feels ‘happy and free’ – and even started dating construction worker Robert McCoy, 35, eight months ago, who thinks she is ‘beautiful’.
Ms Chamberlain said: ‘I started wearing make up in the fifth grade and I didn’t stop wearing it on my face until I was 40.
‘I wore it every single day and I learnt how to perfect it so people who looked at me wouldn’t even know I had it on.
‘I didn’t want people to ask me questions and I didn’t want the stares.
‘I stopped wearing it on my hands when I was 24 and if people saw it, sometimes they wouldn’t want to touch me.
‘It made me into a person who didn’t want to be noticed. That mask was everything for me.
‘Vitiligo clenched me for so long and didn’t let me prosper. Now I’ve ditched my makeup I feel like a completely new person.’
Ms Chamberlain first tried to go makeup-free around five years ago on a trip to Walmart but suffered a panic attack because she felt ‘exposed’ and like ‘everyone was staring’.
The next time she tried was two years ago, after a young girl who she chatted to as part of a vitiligo support group told her she struggling with the condition.
Ever since, she has gone makeup-free.
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