A woman has beaten the bullies to become a top beauty queen – after shunning makeup and showing off her VITILIGO.
Brave Laura Gregory, 27, was just 12 years old when she noticed a white patch of skin on her stomach – which eventually spread all over her body.
Laura, from Sheffield, Yorks., was diagnosed with vitiligo, an autoimmune condition that attacks the body’s tissue and leads to blotchy white patches.
When she was at school, she was teased by classmates who said she had had a bad spray tan or birth marks, but it was only last year that she finally took the plunge and stopped covering up her skin – to ender beauty pageants.
Laura said: “I used cover up with camouflage make-up, but now I’m proud of my vitiligo.
“I used to cover up any way I could, disguise the white patches that crept over my body.
“I used to wonder if it would affect work or relationships and I’d hide behind make-up.
“Now I want to embrace it and show that beauty comes in all forms and we really have to love the skin we are in.”
Brave Laura decided to embrace her condition last year and represented England in Miss Continental pageant – coming in First.
Now Laura is onto her next challenge, Miss Scuba UK and refuses to cover up.
She said: “At every stage of my life I’ve questioned if Vitiligo will hold me back.
“I now have patches forming on my hands feet, chest, shins, inner thighs, neck and now my face.
“I’ve always kept my vitiligo under wraps, but now as it spreads I feel it’s time to put it out there and refuse to cover it.
“I’ve had insecurities my whole life and that shouldn’t stop you chasing dreams.
“No one should feel the need to hide, but equally if they want too, then they should be respected.”
In 2000, at the age of 12, Laura found a white patch of skin on her stomach.
As the patch grew she went to her local GP who thought it was a fungal infection, but after seeking a second opinion from a private dermatologist, she was diagnosed with Vitiligo, where the immune system attacks the body’s tissues, often turning skin and hair white.
As a child, Laura grew up intelligent and hardworking, refusing to discuss her condition and became a professional dancer where she was surrounded by perfect bodies and flawless skin.
Covering up at every opportunity, Laura went onto to build her own business, teaching dance and being a multi-skilled performer.
The natural beauty often wondered if someone would ever love her despite her condition, but in July this year she met partner Rich, 36, a former Royal Marine.
Laura is now in the top 5 in the Miss Scuba UK pageant and refuses to cover up any longer – and hopes to be crowned winner.
She said: “My partner thinks it’s cute and tells me he doesn’t know why I bother covering up.
“I’d rather not have the condition, but you sometimes have to deal with what you’ve got.”