A woman with severe vitiligo who use to spend hours crying in front of the mirror over the white patches spreading across her skin has revealed how taking up bodybuilding helped her to gain confidence in her body.
When she was just 14 years old, personal trainer Antonia Livers, now 27, from Utah, began to notice white spots forming on her eyelids. Not knowing what they were, she went to the doctor where she was diagnosed with the rare skin condition called vitiligo.
Those with vitiligo have a lack of a pigment called melanin in their skin causing white patches to appear in affected areas.
Fighting fit: Vitiligo sufferer Antonia Livers, 27, from Utah, has revealed how bodybuilding gave her the confidence to embrace her unique skin after years of trying to hide it
New outlook: Antonia was just 14 years old when she first noticed white patches forming on her eyelids. They quickly began spreading across her body
Shame: The fitness trainer was left devastated by the condition, which causes a lack of the pigment melanin in the skin and results in white patches forming on the body
Moving forward: Antonia spent years trying to hide her skin, and would often cry in front of the mirror, however embracing fitness helped her to overcome these insecurities
As a teenager, Antonia hid her vitiligo with makeup to avoid any unwanted comments from her classmates. Vitiligo patches spread to her arms and legs and Antonia also wore long sleeve t-shirts and trousers so that strangers couldn’t judge her.
Completely covered, Antonia managed to avoid negative comments regarding her appearance.
However, with her makeup and long sleeves removed, Antonia couldn’t help but judge herself and spent hours each day looking at her patchwork skin in the mirror and crying.
Antonia hated the way she looked, believing that her vitiligo made her ugly. She felt angry that a skin condition that she had never heard of before her diagnosis was ruining her life.
Antonia’s insecurities surrounding her appearance often prevented her from dating for fear of what potential boyfriends would think of her.
‘I found the first spots on my eyelids when I was just 14 years old,’ Antonia said. ‘When you’re 14 you don’t want to look different to other girls. I would just stand in front of the mirror and cry every single day.
‘I was telling myself every single day, “How ugly am I? Why do I look like this?” ‘I never asked for those white spots, I never wanted them back then.
‘I was so insecure about myself and I let it affect my relationship with my boyfriend back then and, more importantly, my relationship with myself.
Heartbreak: ‘When you’re 14 you don’t want to look different to other girls. I would just stand in front of the mirror and cry every single day,’ she recalled
Help: Taking up weight lifting gave Antonia a feel of control over her body, which she had lost as a result of her vitiligo
Empowering: ‘I fell in love with fitness which helped me overcome my insecurities. I went from self-hate to self-acceptance and finally to self-love and appreciation,’ she explained
Freedom: For Antonia, pushing her body to the limit of its capabilities served as an opportunity to release the stress she felt because of her vitiligo
‘I would wear long sleeves, T-shirts and long trousers just so random strangers couldn’t judge me. I would always be wearing makeup to make sure no-one knew about my vitiligo.
‘As I grew older my white spots were growing too.’
In her late teens, she turned to fitness, visiting the gym at least four times per week where she did both cardio and weight training. For Antonia, pushing her body to the limit of its capabilities served as an opportunity to release the stress she felt because of her vitiligo.
Antonia was able to control how her body looked and the way she felt in a way that she couldn’t control her skin.
‘I fell in love with fitness which helped me overcome my insecurities. I went from self-hate to self-acceptance and finally to self-love and appreciation,’ Antonia revealed.
‘I started working on my body which led to working on my mind. I got physically stronger which had a huge impact on my mental strength.’
In 2017, Antonia moved from her childhood home in Cologne, Germany, to Utah, after meeting her personal trainer husband, Poppy Livers, 28, when he was in Germany playing American football.
Sharing: Antonia now proudly shares images of her body on social media, where she has earned an impressive following
Changes: She credits her job as a fitness trainer with helping her to ‘save her relationship with herself’, explaining that it enabled her to get herself out of a ‘dark place’
Close: Antonia’s husband, Poppy, 28, has also been incredibly supportive of her
Family: Antonia (pictured with her grandparents) now embraces her individuality, saying, ‘It’s great to be different’
On arriving in the US, Antonia was able to land her dream job as a personal trainer. Becoming fitter and gaining more confidence in her appearance, Antonia began to overcome some of the insecurities that had plagued her teenage years.
‘My job literally saved my relationship with myself. Realizing this still makes me tear up today,’ she said.
‘I helped myself out of that dark place just by being active and being good to myself.’
Today, Antonia is proud to post pictures showing off her vitiligo on Instagram and receives comments from strangers saying that she is a ‘multicolored beauty’ and an inspiration.
Although Antonia’s vitiligo has continued to spread across her body, she has no intention to hide her unique skin and is purely focused on improving her own life and the lives of those she coaches.
‘It’s great to be different,’ Antonia said. ‘Average never made it to the top, so find your insecurities and turn them into some bad*** strength.
‘I seriously love what I’m doing. I love helping people on their individual health and fitness journeys.
‘I truly couldn’t imagine a better job than seeing people getting better, both physically and mentally.
‘For me, working out is my therapy. We have to control what we are able to control in our lives.’