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/ Source: TODAY
By Eun Kyung Kim

Breanne Rice admits that much of the last 12 years has been about covering up. Now the former model has come clean.

Rice has vitiligo, a rare condition that causes pigment loss in skin. For Rice, who only has it on her face, it started with a white patch beneath her eye when she was 19. She used foundation to hide the condition from nearly everyone until recently, when she revealed a fresh-faced photo of herself on Instagram.

Rice explained that vitiligo ultimately caused her to lose more than half the pigment on her face.

“I got really good at doing my makeup, and I didn't want anyone to know about it,” she explained in the post. “I couldn't look in the mirror without crying, and feeling unattractive.”

Rice said the condition left her feeling embarrassed and insecure. She never left the house without makeup, even to go to the gym. She said she used to turn up at photo shoots already wearing foundation, sometimes calling ahead to let them know about her condition.

Breanne Rice, 31, hid her vitiligo until recently. She was 19 when she was diagnosed with the rare skin disorder.Misty Winesberry Photography

“I felt like I had to explain myself. ‘I have vitiligo so you need to fix this so I can look like everyone else,’ like it was a bad thing,” Rice, now 31, told TODAY. “Why couldn’t I have just showed up and said, ‘Hey, I’m Breanne,’ and then let them put the makeup on me? It was because I was so insecure.”

That’s when she realized that she had to come clean, in every possible way.

“I did it for myself and to also help empower other women who may have something they’re insecure about and say, ‘Hey it’s okay. You can love yourself and feel confident and beautiful,’” she said. “You can’t find your value in only what you look like and allow that to be the basis of whether or not you’re worthy of love.”

Although she still does an occasional photo shoot, Rice’s current career as a nutritional therapy practitioner continues to keep her in the public eye, particularly on television. She said having that platform has inspired her to open up about her skin condition. The response she has since received has encouraged her to keep being vocal about it.

“It’s given me a confidence that I’ve never had before,” said Rice, who has received numerous messages from women who found support and comfort in her social media posts.

RELATED: Alicia Keys makeup-free photos start a body image discussion

“They’re like, ‘This gives me hope and strength by you doing these things. I know that I’m not alone,’” she said. “That to me is the greatest reward. It’s seeing other women building confidence.

“You have to love yourself in the way you are, individually and uniquely. When you learn to love that person and not compare yourself to anyone else, that’s where true confidence comes in.”

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