Demi Sims ‘finally happy in her skin’ as she embraces her vitiligo in empowering shoot
Demi Sims oozes confidence from the moment she arrives for our shoot – but it hasn’t always been that way. The 26-year-old was diagnosed with the skin condition vitiligo when she was 16, which she says was “devastating”.
It left her crying and she often felt unable to leave the house. She admits she would use body make-up and do heavy edits on her photos to hide her vitiligo.
But now, Demi finally feels comfortable in her skin after learning to love her patches. “It’s been baby steps but I’m finally here and I’m so happy about it,” she says.
Demi is proud to bare all for the first time in our powerful photos – and even plucks up the courage to pose nude.
“I’ve never done anything like this,” she tells us. “I’ve posted pictures on social media but it was different standing in front
of the camera. And without my clothes on! I’m proud of myself.”
Demi discovered she had vitiligo during a girls’ holiday and instantly knew what it was, as her nan also has the condition.
After years of trying to treat it, Demi tells us she became “exhausted” and “gave up”. From that moment, she began to accept it and decided to bravely share it by posting her first unedited picture. “It blew up,” she says. “People were saying they were proud of me – it made me feel so good.”
Demi, who found fame on TOWIE in 2018, then wanted to educate people, admitting they would recognise her from TV and “stare”. She quit the ITVBe show earlier this year but is about to return to our screens in her new OnlyFans TV series, House Of Sims, alongside sisters Chloe and Frankie and brother Charlie.
Demi, who has previously had relationships with Megan Barton-Hanson and Francesca Farago, promises drama and tells us she’ll be doing lots of dating in a bid to find The One.
Here, she opens up about her “long journey” to acceptance, hoping to inspire others and her dream of having a family…
Hi, Demi! Why was it important for you to do this shoot?
I want everyone who has vitiligo to feel comfortable. I wanted to do it because I wanted to feel proud of myself and I wanted to make other people who have vitiligo feel proud, too. There’s nothing worse than getting messages on social media from people asking me how I cover it up. I want people to embrace it and be happy in their skin.
How long has it taken you to get to this point?
I’ve had it since I was 16 and I hated it until I was about 20. I thought it was devastating when I first got it. It was a tough time.
I covered up for years. I used to buy a product from America called Dermablend, a thick body make-up made especially for skin conditions. It really did help with my confidence at the time. That’s why I always say, if you’re not ready to show it, don’t pressure yourself. You need to get to a confident place before you can start opening up. It’s been baby steps but I’m finally here and I’m so happy about it. I forget I have vitiligo now.
Did you find it exhausting trying to cover it up?
It used to take me hours to cover it with make-up. I even wore it on holiday. And then I started using social media and I would edit it out on my pictures. I’d spend hours editing and think, “Wow, I’d feel so much more confident if that’s what my body actually looked like. Why can’t it be like that forever?” Whereas now, I just feel much more confident and I’d actually rather people notice it.
Has it been a long journey?
It’s been a long journey and it hasn’t been easy. I posted my first Instagram picture showing my vitiligo about four years ago, after a holiday to Vegas. I just thought, “F*** it!” I uploaded it as I was boarding the flight and then when I landed, eight hours later, I looked and it blew up. It was terrifying waiting to see the outcome. People were saying they were proud of me and that made me feel so good.
Another reason I wanted to post it is I was going out and people were coming up to me and noticing me from TV, and I could see them looking at my skin while speaking to me. I felt people staring at my patches. I got fed up with it, so I wanted to put it out there so people knew what they were looking at, and they know it’s not just patchy fake tan, like a lot of people assume.
How were you diagnosed?
I first noticed it when I was on a girls’ holiday. Because I have fair skin, I didn’t really notice it until I caught a tan. I knew it was vitiligo straight away as my nan has it from head to toe. I went to the doctor a lot for advice. I tried different creams to try to get rid of it but nothing worked and it made me feel even worse. In the end I got so exhausted I gave up. When I got to 19, I was offered treatment using a UV sunbed.
They said there’s a potential risk of skin cancer and a risk it may not work, so I decided against it. At that point, I thought, “I’m going to learn to love myself.” There’s nothing I can do to get rid of it and it’s not worth the risk of skin cancer. My skin is like baby skin – it’s soft and sensitive. So when I go in the sun, I have to wear factor 50. The doctors are strict about it. It’s like sitting a baby in the sun.
How did it affect your life?
I just hated it. I used to cry constantly and I was so gutted. When I was 16, no one I knew had it apart from my nan and the model Winnie Harlow. To me and everyone else, it was alien.
Has it ever made you not want to leave the house?
When I’ve been on holiday, it’s made me not want to go to the beach. And when I did go to the beach, it made me want to cover up. When people stared at my white patches, it would make me feel like an alien.
At the time, I thought they were thinking negative things, but now I’m a bit older, they were probably just looking because they were curious. And then, when I came back from a holiday, I didn’t want to leave the house because my tan made it more obvious and I had these patches. I just wanted to cover up. I didn’t want to go to a club without body make-up on.
Has it got more visible as you’ve got older?
I get new patches all the time. The newest one is on my wrist, which I got about a month ago. I thought they had stopped last year but I notice new patches every now and then. My biggest ones have all stopped now. I have it around my eyes, down my neck, under my armpits, across my chest and across my hips. The patches on my hips are probably where I have it worse, they’re the biggest ones. But I just find them cute now.
Has having it in your intimate area affected your love life?
When I’ve been in relationships, I’d get nervous and warn people. I’d say, “I have a skin problem and you’re probably going to see it.” They’d say, “I don’t care.” But that was a huge anxiety. I used to hate getting to that base with people. Even now, I’m not 100% comfortable. I need to be confident. I don’t warn people any more. If you love me, then love me for me. And if you don’t, you can p*** off.
You recently got a tattoo on your back. What is its meaning?
My back tattoo is to do with love and mental health. It was painful getting it done but it was worth the emotions. I think mental health needs to be spoken about more and people don’t tend to open up to their partners about it.
Relationships can also get quite toxic due to social media and how easy it is to get cheated on, or hurt, and I feel people’s mental health is not taken into consideration with online platforms. What I’m looking for is an old-school love with trust and safety. I want the person I’m with to know they can always open up about their mental health.
Would you say you’re body-confident in general?
I wouldn’t say I’m the most confident person. I’m always going to struggle, especially when you watch yourself back on TV. It’s easy to be critical.
You previously got your lip filler dissolved. Do you feel better now?
Yeah. I kept getting my lips done and people were really trolling me about them, saying they were too big and looked ridiculous. I didn’t understand why people said it as I couldn’t see it. So I got them dissolved because I was sick of all the comments. As soon as I did, I could see the change. I’ve put a little bit of filler back in, but they are so much better now.
You’re returning to screens with your new show, House Of Sims. What can we expect?
A lot of raw emotions. It’s uncut, no one is holding back. There’s been drama, tears and laughter.
Why was now the right time for you to do this?
We always knew we’d have our own family show. We’ve spoken about it for years. We didn’t know how or when it would happen, but we knew it would.
Do you ever find it difficult working with your family?
Because we’re so close, we do bicker and we do clash heads. We feel like we can say whatever we want to each other. It’s not like having a friend and having to bite your tongue. It will be interesting for viewers to see that side. But we have such a tight bond and we have each other’s backs. Even though we might rub each other up the wrong way, we’re one big happy family.
Will viewers see you dating?
Definitely. I think people are interested in my love life because I tend to date girls and they’re always hot. We’re flying out to LA to film for a month, so as soon as I touch down in America, I’m pulling out all the stops. I’m hoping I’m going to meet someone out there. I’ve been single for over a year now and I feel like I’ve healed nicely and I’m in a comfortable place. One of my main goals is to go to LA and find someone.
What are you looking for?
Someone bubbly who is loyal, family-oriented and who accepts my work. I’ve been with people previously who haven’t accepted my work because they didn’t like it when I had to go off filming. So I need someone who is going to push me and support me.
Do you prefer dating people in the public eye?
I do. Only because I can relate to them more and they understand how I might feel, so I do prefer it in that way. But obviously I still date people who aren’t in the public eye. It’s just hard with my schedule. If they have a nine to five job, it clashes.
You’ve had splits in public. Does that put you off?
I’ve had messy public break-ups and obviously it’s not the same as breaking up with someone who isn’t in the public eye. It’s a lot more intense and people have their opinions. It can be tricky but then I’ve also received a lot of support. In the past, I’ve had fans who sent flowers to support me. So it has its ups and downs.
Do you see marriage and babies in your future?
Yeah, I would love to get married and have kids. I don’t know what route I’m going to have to go down, as right now I see myself being with a woman. So whether it would be IVF or adoption, it would be something I’d have to look into. I definitely want that in about four years. I’m bisexual but my connection with women is greater than it is with men. I feel like I get besotted and I get more intrigued with women, whereas with men I get bored quickly. I still find men sexually attractive and I would go on a date with a man, I just haven’t in years.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
I’d like to be settled down with someone. And I’m hoping our show is pretty big, making an impact across the world. I’d love for us to be on the same level as the Kardashians – that’s the goal.
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