This World Vitiligo Day, I’m sharing my story of living with the condition almost my whole life and what it’s taught me about loving the skin I’m in
Being bullied for my skin as a little girl meant I was constantly worried and concerned about it being on show, and felt the need to cover it up at all times to be ‘normal’. I’ve always suffered from anxiety too, so constantly overthinking and panicking about things definitely didn’t (and doesn’t) help the spread of my patches.
When I got older and went to secondary school the bullying stopped but my self consciousness didn’t. I can remember putting foundation on my knees and wearing nude tights so that I could wear skirts like all the other girls and not worry about my knees being on show. I chose long-sleeved shirts over short sleeves so I could cover the vitiligo that had suddenly sprouted on my elbows.
At around the age of 12 my mum decided to take me back to see a dermatologist. She could see how vitiligo was affecting me and she wanted to see if there was anything we could do. It was then that I was told about UVA/UVB light treatment (or phototherapy) which I started and continued to have once a week for two years. It worked in certain areas that I had patches, such as my hips and knees, but wasn’t as effective on places closer to the bone such as my hands or feet. There is no cure for vitiligo. Although treatment may be helpful in restoring the colour, it cannot prevent its spread or recurrence.
Though the treatment helped me feel more confident, I came to the realisation that it was never going to change. I began to accept my skin condition for what it was and decided to embrace it instead. It made me unique, so I started to show it off proudly.
I came across Winnie Harlow around this time too and she inspired me so much. She was called similar names as a child and yet there she was; this stunning supermodel that oozed confidence. I’ve even had the privilege of being photographed by Brock Elbank, a photographer renowned for campaigns on Instagram and for documenting people’s differences in various photography collections. I owe much of my confidence to talented people like Brock. The vitiligo series he produced made me feel normal and special all at once.