It has taken Lauren half her life to build the courage to reveal what she has been concealing. Professional performer Lauren Jimmieson finally opens up about her skin diagnosis.
At just 14-years-old, Lauren was diagnosed with a skin condition known as Vitiligo. Vitiligo is loss of pigmentation where the melanocytes within the skin die off, causing white patches to occur. It is estimated that only around one percent of the population is affected by Vitiligo. There are a range of treatment options including the most popular, UVB light treatment.
Despite all treatment, it was only 50 percent effective until her skin became unresponsive.
When I was 14, I developed eczema on my neck which triggered Vitiligo. Overnight, the pigment from my jaw line to my collar bones suddenly disappeared, leaving only a few tiny specs of pigmented skin behind,” she explained.
While I hopped from doctor to doctor desperately seeking a diagnosis, the condition spread to my face affecting my eyelids and forehead, which subsequently also turned my eyebrows white.”
As a teenage dancer with her skin losing its natural colour in a visible area of the body, Lauren felt she had unwillingly walked into a mousetrap of bullies. Some students were vicious to Lauren when they saw the depigmented patches on her upper body. She had no choice but to ask the Principal if the rules could be bent in her favour and wear makeup to school.
The bullies pounced on me in full force,” Lauren admitted. “I remember the moment I asked my mum if I could cover my neck and my face with makeup. I went to a school with a strict no makeup policy, but I was even granted permission to wear makeup to cover my condition by the Principal,” she added.
Lauren had one silver-lining, and that was dancing. She grew up dancing at her local school and developed passions for musical theatre and children’s theatre. Lauren spent three years at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music and attained her Bachelor of Music (Musical Theatre).
As her credits on her CV grew, so did her confidence. After 11 years, Lauren felt emotionally and mentally exhausted from hiding her vitiligo. She felt the urge to tell everyone about her condition two years ago but only found the courage in October 2018 to share her story on social media and write a blog called ‘The Jimmie Journal’.
By the time I finally shared this with the world, I was ready. It has been extremely liberating and very emotional to receive such huge waves of support from friends, family and the theatre community.”
However, Lauren admits that if she had revealed her condition earlier, her CV might have looked less colourful.
I know that had I pursued my professional career with my Vitiligo uncovered in auditions, it is likely that my CV would look very different today. It’s the nature of the beast!” she told Dance Writer.
“As long as I could continue to present myself with concealed skin, not a single casting director had any reason to suspect what was underneath and therefore, my vitiligo would never be the reason I didn’t book a job.”
I never wanted my vitiligo to take away from my talent, drive and passion when auditioning for a job, but I always dreamed of a day where I could be accepted for the way I look bare-skinned.”
Lauren is making the conscious decision to work towards finding confidence in her own skin, vitiligo exposed, as a performer. She hopes her story and experience can empower others and help break the stigma that ‘beauty influences success’.
As a performer its extremely useful to have the tools and skills to camouflage a condition for stage and screen. Most people who do not have vitiligo, or anything of the like, have encouraged Lauren to go bare skinned all the time now that she has revealed her truth.
Most people who have contacted me around the world who also have vitiligo are very eager for me to share my tips and tricks on coverage. While it is super important for me to find comfort in my own skin, I understand how empowering it is to have choice. If you’re having a bad day, the ability to confidently disguise your condition can be liberating and useful. After going camouflaged for so long, it’s going to be a process as I journey to feeling comfortable and confident in my own skin in society and as a performer. I plan on sharing my developments in my blog. Both sides – the bare skinned me and the camouflaged me and all of the in betweens, ups and downs, good and bad and most importantly, the progress I make.”
I hope my story will teach others that nothing should ever hold you back from chasing your dream.”