Some children’s health disorders can be dangerous, bacterial, viral, fungal, chronic or developmental, while others such as vitiligo may present confidence or social challenges.
Vitiligo, which is a chronic autoimmune disorder, causes patches of skin to lose pigment or color. According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), it occurs “when melanocytes – skin cells that make pigment – are attacked and destroyed, causing the skin to turn a milky-white color.”
Depigmentation—a loss of natural color of pigment— is a main symptom. Vitiligo is not contagious. It does not spread from person to person.
“While vitiligo cannot be cured, treatment may restore lost skin color,” per information provided by the American Academy of Dermatology Association.
Treatment provided by a board-certified dermatologist can also reduce vitiligo from spreading to other areas.
Lid’ya C. Rivera is a Florida-based vitiligo advocate, confidence coach, published author, speaker, filmmaker and retired U.S. Navy Veteran who knows what it is like to be impacted by vitiligo.
Her vitiligo is in one area of her body. It is defined as “focal” vitiligo and is primarily located on her face. Rivera explained that her vitiligo affects the left side of her face, eye, eyelashes and hair. She lacked confidence for most of her life because of having the rare skin disorder.
“Having been born with vitiligo, there were many life challenges faced, including bullying by my peers and feeling like I was not normal and like an outcast which had a negative impact on me emotionally and mentally,” Rivera said. “It wasn’t until 2018, that I no longer wanted to continue living in darkness and shame. I decided to finally remove the makeup I used to literally and figuratively conceal my true beauty, and since then, I have been living in freedom and advocating for the vitiligo community in hopes that they, too, begin to live in freedom and love the skin they’re in.”
Today, Rivera is a full-time entrepreneur and owner of the Confidence BuildHER Academy. She serves as a confidence coach for teenage girls and women. Rivera is also a graduate of Excelsior College, where she earned an Associates degree in Administrative and Management Studies and a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology.
After serving in the U.S. Navy for almost 14 years, recently retiring in February 2023, Rivera took a leap to share her first children’s book called “I Absolutely Positively Love My Spots” with the world. The official release date was on June 6, 2023.
Although the book’s target audience is children aged three to eight years old, she believes that her book, which features a vibrant protagonist with vitiligo, will touch and positively impact everyone who reads it. According to Rivera, an extraordinary number of adults told her that they wished her book had been available when they were a child living with vitiligo.
“I wrote this inspirational picture book from the perspective of how I wish I were confident and comfortable about my skin condition,” Rivera said. The purpose of “I Absolutely, Positively Love My Spots,” is to encourage, inspire, and educate children about vitiligo, whether they have the skin disorder or not, and to share how we should all embrace our uniqueness, as well as others in order to promote kindness, encourage self- love, and bring bullying to an end. I hope every reader learns to celebrate their differences and realize we were all born to stand out, not fit in.”
Unfortunately, other children who encountered her during childhood thought she was weird, ugly, or that her condition was something contagious. Rivera’s book deal with HarperCollins has afforded her the opportunity to raise awareness about vitiligo. By incorporating her passion and purpose, the vitiligo advocate feels that she is doing her part in making the world better than she found it.
“I’ve always enjoyed writing, but now to incorporate passion and purpose, I feel that I am doing my part in making the world better than I found it. I am overjoyed, to say the least, yet I am more excited for the child reading this book and finding happiness from within and acceptance for their own skin,” Rivera said.
“I Absolutely Positively Love My Spots” can be purchased at Target, Walmart, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, independent bookstores, and anywhere books are sold. Visit https://www.lidyacrivera.com/childrens-book to keep up-to-date with Rivera’s book tour locations and dates. Follow the book’s Instagram page at @iaplmschildrensbook and Rivera’s Instagram page @lidya.c.rivera.