Many vitiligo fighters refuse to leave the house for the fear of being stared at and often drive to the depths of isolation. But, Shantanu Gosavi’s story is entirely the opposite. Probably, India’s first model with vitiligo, Shantanu shows off his vitiliginous skin with confidence and pride.
Shantanu, 22, was 10 when he noticed his first white patch. Over the years, vitiligo patches spread to his hands, arms, feet, and legs. Now, most of his body is covered with vitiligo splotches, including his face. Throughout this skin transition, his family supported him. This is one of the reasons why he never felt alienated by his skin condition. “It was very natural for me growing up in this skin, never felt out of place. Thanks to my upbringing and the environment I was raised in”, explains Shantanu.
He decided to ditch makeup and embraced himself most gracefully. He did not let vitiligo clench him. When asked if he tried any vitiligo treatment, Shantanu replied: “I did try a lot of treatments before, not because I hated my skin, but because I was suggested treatments. None of them worked, and hence I accepted it as it was.”
The Textile Designer never thought that he could pursue modeling until a local retailer spotted him. Right after this beautiful incident, Shantanu started posting his pictures on social media, to attract brands/photographers who were on the lookout for unconventional models like him. Shantanu’s confidence and striking appearance resulted in many Instagrammers stopping by his profile to pay him compliments. “In all these years, I have realized that when you love and accept yourself the way you are, you get the love and appreciation back in abundance,” says Shantanu.
In April 2018, Arka Patra photographed Shantanu. One of the pictures from this photo-shoot was picked up by Vogue web portal as the picture of the day. This, in turn, got him everyone’s attention and he was hired by YBP Cosmetics, a makeup brand, as an Influencer. He was subsequently featured in homegrownin’s #HGPhotography series and was written a blog about (by team IndianWomenBlog).
Shantanu is currently shaping his career as a freelance model and taking classes to learn Kathak. It would be unfair to call him Winnie Harlow of India as all vitiligo fighters are unique. But, just like Harlow, Shantanu could be an inspiration for many with vitiligo who want to break into fashion, beauty, and entertainment business in India.