Tiffany Posteraro has vitiligo, a skin condition that causes pale patches to appear on skin as a result of low melanin.
The 24-year-old spent most of her life covering her body and wearing make-up to try to hide her skin condition.
"I got really dark spray tans and used industrial-strength foundation, the kind used to cover deep scars," she said in an interview with PA Real Life.
"I covered my legs and arms most of the time, even in the sweltering heat, and would avoid pool parties because it meant wearing a bikini."
Posteraro, who lives in Brooklyn, New York, says she first noticed her skin condition on her knees when she was 7 years old.
"At first, we had no idea what it was. Then, when I was 11, I was in a grocery store with my mum and a man pulled me aside and said: 'You have vitiligo.'"
Later, she looked up the condition online and discovered she "wasn't the only person in the world with this condition".
As Posteraro's skin condition grew and the white marks appeared across her body, people would make cruel comments and stare.
"When people stared and made nasty comments, I had no comeback because I didn't understand my condition.
"People would say, 'Did you tan under a tree?' I got called 'cow', 'Dalmatian', 'ghost face', 'burns victim'. A few boys in my class told me, 'I can't date you because of this.' It was horrible."
But after years of hiding, she decided to stop covering up.
Not only that, but she also decided to embrace her condition with pride in a bold way: with a tattoo that reads, 'It's called vitiligo.'
"I was sick of the stares. I just wanted to say, 'Come on, ask me what it is.' I wanted to share with people what it is because that way they would learn something, rather than stigmatising."
She hopes that the tattoo helps answer the question many people have in their heads about her skin.
"Now people are like, 'I love your tattoo.' They ask questions about the condition and go away enlightened. They know I didn't get burnt in a fire. They know there's a term for what I have. It's very liberating."
Posteraro says that an encounter with a woman with vitiligo – as well as finding out about the model Winnie Harlow, who also has the condition – inspired her to be proud of her skin.
Posteraro says her vitiligo has helped her become a better person.
"I believe I am a better person and a more empathetic person for having vitiligo. I don't look at someone and focus on their flaws. Flaws to one person are beautiful to another."
Rossalyn Warren is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Rossalyn Warren at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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