Pounds and pounds of makeup were applied daily to every inch of Cassidy’s skin. She wished that her skin was similar to everyone else, but there wasn’t anything she could do about it. She had dealt with it for her entire life, hiding her discoloration since she could remember.
The heavy weight of the makeup kept her head low and made her stay in the background. Without attention, it meant there were no dangers of being seen in case she missed a spot or teasing comments from those who did know.
It was a normal day for her. Boring classes, teachers being way too awake in the early mornings, daydreams when teachers began to drone on and on about something. It changed when the lunch bell rang.
“Cas! Come look at this video I found!” Noah shouted when he saw her walk through the doors. She quickly walked to him and smacked him on his arm.
“What was that for?” He whined as Cassidy sat down.
“She doesn’t like attention, idiot. Remember?” Ash smirked at him from across the table. Cassidy rolled her eyes before focusing on Noah’s screen. It was a live video of a woman who had vitiligo. She was answering questions about her skin and teaching those who watched more about her experiences. Her smile was radiant as she kept talking about what she went through while being different from those around her. It took her most of her life to embrace it, but it felt like a weight was being lifted off her shoulders when she did. She was like Cassidy.
“Thank you.” Noah and Ash smiled at her when she finally spoke to them.
“Of course, sweetie.” Ash replied and Noah took his phone back. Once Cassidy stopped feeling as though she was about to cry, she started talking and complaining about classes with the two. The rest of the day went by quickly as all Cassidy could think about was the woman who had similar skin to her. Even though she was teased and ostracized when she was younger, she still showed her skin and seemed to be proud of it.
When Cassidy got home, she rushed up to her mom and told her about the woman. Her mom smiled at her and pulled her into a tight hug before letting her go to do whatever she did before dinner. Cassidy started up her computer and started learning more about the woman. Maybe she could help her accept her own skin.
Months passed after that day for Cassidy to try to be more comfortable about her own skin. On the last day of school, she finally decided to go bare skinned. No makeup, no change in wardrobe, nothing out of the ordinary to cover her vitiligo. There was fear in her mom’s eyes, but she still smiled brightly when she came downstairs in the morning. All she could do was support her daughter.
“Be safe, Cas. I love you.” She whispered into her hair before letting her go to school. At first, no one noticed. Then as classes started and the hours passed, she got more and more stares and whispers followed her. Even though she felt free, a part of her still feared the judgment she knew she was getting from her peers. During lunch, she hid between the bookshelves indulging in fantasy worlds where heroines and heroes fought and lived beside their family and friends. Noah and Ash found her near the end of lunch and started complaining about their classes to her, never mentioning her skin. For that, she was grateful to them.
The end of lunch came and she had to deal with stares and whispers again. She couldn’t wait until her last class ended. No more classmates’ stares and no more judgments from them. She probably wouldn’t even see them again as it was her final year.
Finally, the last bell rang and everyone rushed out, happy that it was finally summer. Cassidy was about to follow them when she noticed a girl approaching her.
“Um, we don’t know each other, but I just wanted to say that you’re really pretty, despite what everyone else is saying. I don’t know if you’ve heard anything, but they’re so rude!” The girl kept talking even though her words went into one ear and out the other for Cassidy. She couldn’t get past the part of her being seen as pretty. There was no way. Her skin was so different from everyone else’s, and there was nothing else that would be considered “pretty” about her.
Throughout the summer, her mind kept going back to the girl’s comments. Pretty. Even when Cassidy was out with friends or spending time with her family, her mind wandered back to the word “pretty” being used for her. It was strange. She wasn’t like those people online who had vitiligo. They were confident and embraced their skin while she hadn’t even come to terms with it. Although she had gone more days without covering every inch of skin, she was in no way similar to those online. Yet the girl’s comment continued to bug her. Pretty. Could Cassidy truly be that?
It took years of working up the courage and weeks of mental battles with herself, but she finally became comfortable in her skin without makeup. There were still days where she wanted to hide, but she had grown from her high school days. She could be like those that she had looked up to all those years ago. Pretty, confident, proud.
Hi, I’m Lili Luo, author of “Skin Deep” and I have always been drawn to books and writing. It started out as a way to create something based on my imagination and any books or shows that inspired me in the moment. Now it’s something to escape from reality and release any problems that have stressed me out recently. I found something online where some people have an easier time accepting, working through, and letting go of their problems when they talk about it from a third person perspective and that has helped me since I found it. Although I don’t have vitiligo, I remember the video written in the story was one I actually saw and the way she embraced herself resonated with the insecurities I had that I would have to deal with. Being accepted no matter what is something I try to give to everyone and hope to receive in return.