Originally from Miami Florida, Jimmy Allen has been living in New York for over 11 years now. This is the city where Jimmy runs his company – The Avvocato. Being a Love and Relationship Coach, he loves to help everyone have a juicy love life. Today, at 41, Jimmy is living his life to the fullest. But, 6 years back, his first encounter with vitiligo left him shocked and overwhelmed. This is Jimmy’s vitiligo story.
“It started out as on scalp. My barber told me that I had a white dandruff patch, which I later realized was a white vitiligo patch that was drying my scalp. One morning, I noticed that a tiny dot next to my right eye had gotten bigger. It was the size of a dime, so I googled and saw all popped-up vitiligo images. The same morning I saw a man with extensive vitiligo on the train. I broke down crying. I remember saying – Oh my god. I am going to look like a monster. Who’s going to want me now? “, the 41-year old New Yorker shares.
Soon Jimmy wouldn’t go on dates. He would get rejected by other men. “In the gay community, there’s an unspoken idea “he’s not perfect.” It’s more about how they will look in front of their friends and family or more importantly as to how they will look on social media.” Jimmy pours his heart out.
It’s no secret that many vitiligo fighters witness bullying in one or another form. Jimmy too had his fair share of it. “I experienced bullying at work. But one day, my best friend called me and brought me back to reality by simply saying – You are not in pain and you are not going to die. That statement clicked for me. Now, whenever people at work would negatively comment, I’d push back on them. They often didn’t know how to respond once I pushed back and I started standing up for myself. All the comments eventually stopped. Other gay men started to find me attractive. And, I finally realized that my vitiligo was saving me from men who didn’t fully accept me. That was a blessing,”
Jimmy says it took him about a year of personal growth work to be okay with vitiligo. He did a lot of research, read books and watched YouTube videos on self-love. ‘During this time’, ‘A Return to Love’, ‘The Daily Love’ and ‘Calling in the One’ were few books that inspired him to do more and be more. “I was getting treatment for about a year and a half and at the same time, I was doing the self-love journey. The more and more I started to love the skin I am in, the more I got exhausted of traveling 2 hours from Queens to Manhattan for treatment. The consistent sensitivity after the treatment was annoying too. I felt like I could be using my time for other things.
What also changed Jimmy’s perspective was his relationship with his boyfriend at the time: “He was this beautiful man from Spain who would kiss me on my spots and call them beautiful. That moved me so much. It gave me an extra boost of self-love. If a man like this can see my beauty, then I need to start owing it. This helped me stop seeking treatment.”
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Today, Jimmy is visually upfront about vitiligo and doesn’t feel like hiding his patches. “Sometimes I wish I had bigger spots on my body. I think it’s so beautiful on others. My vitiligo comes and goes now. The more I change my diet, the more it is starting to disappear. I have my moments of not wanting it but that’s not the case so much,” shares Jimmy.
Just like other vitiligo crusaders featured in this series, Jimmy too feels that there should be more representation on TV: “Magazines and the fashion industry have started to use more and more people with vitiligo. I wish and I hope TV, movies and other media platforms start to hire people with vitiligo. I do think and know that there a few news anchors with vitiligo, but they choose to wear makeup.”
When we asked Jimmy to leave us with a message for fellow vitiligo fighters, he indeed had something beautiful to share, “The journey is truly within. We all have to tackle and push back on all the beliefs that come up with having vitiligo or any skin condition for that matter. When we submit to the negative thoughts, we start to look for evidence that validates those thoughts. It’s up to each and everyone one of us to shift the way we think about our vitiligo. We have to love ourselves and find inner beauty. And the reality is we are healthy. We are fit. We are smart. We are beautiful. We are a new breed of what it means to be beautiful.”
We hope all youngsters with vitiligo draw some strength from Jimmy’s vitiligo journey. We are honored to have him featured among all Vitiligo Crusaders.