– Our guest writer is Patrice Gerideau –
You are so Ugly…
Can you imagine hearing those words everyday of your life? I can. In my twenties, I developed a skin condition, vitiligo, which caused me to lose pigment on the right side of my face. For some time, I wouldn’t look in the mirror, place myself in social situations or look anyone in the eyes. I had become a stranger to myself and had to face the difficulty of conflicting doctor’s opinions, strange looks, discrimination and self-doubt.
Vitiligo is a pigmentation disorder in which the cells that make pigment, or melanocytes, are destroyed. While it is not life threatening in the truest sense of the word, it is nothing less than life changing.
When I was first diagnosed with vitiligo, I went through a period of thinking it was a dream. Each day, I would wake up and go to the mirror expecting to see my old face again. In the beginning, when the first set of doctors did not know what the problem was, I still had hope. I kept thinking my skin would just go back to its natural color. I tried everything they told me. When those things did not work, I finally had to get another opinion. I was not ready to hear that I had this incurable, skin-altering thing called vitiligo.
Journalist Lee Thomas, in his chronicle on living with vitiligo, Turning White, says of the disease, “I can say without question that this disease has given me moments of despair and has lifted me into amazingly euphoric epiphanies.”
Like Lee Thomas, I’ve had my mountain top and valley experiences with vitiligo. Thank You for Staring chronicles this sixteen-year experience of highs and lows.
at Goethe Institut – Main Stage
812 7th Street NW,
Washington, DC, 20001
Details and tickets
As idealistic as we try to be, looks are such a big part of identity. We live in a country where looks matter, or should I say we live in a society where the looks that matter are not average. And we all have to figure out how to live with that and with vitiligo it can be very difficult.
Ironically, I began writing this story in 2004; however, it took me until now to feel comfortable sharing it with others. I have my director, Carol Cadby, to thank for that. I had entered Fringe with the objective of telling a different story, one about other women. My goal is always to tell and help women tell their stories. It took Carol to remind me that before I can empower others, the first story I must tell is my own. It is my hope that at the end of the show, audience members will walk away with one message, that beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder and that beholder must be the person staring back in the mirror.
This production is presented as a part of the 2013 Capital Fringe Festival, a program of the Washington, DC non-profit Capital Fringe.
— Guest writer Patrice Gerideau is a writer, actor, and director. She is a South Carolina native who began her journey as an artist in sixth grade. She firmly believes in the power of the written, spoken, and performed word to transform lives. She is on a mission to tell and help women tell their stories through the literary & performative arts. She holds two Bachelor of Arts degrees in Psychology and Journalism from the University of Georgia. She spent time at New York University studying Poetry, Performance and Playwriting. She also studied dramatic writing in Cape Town, South Africa. She is a graduate of Theatre Lab’s Honors Acting Conservatory. —
Fringe Peeks is part of our ‘in their own words’ series.