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My Vitiligo Story | From Darshan’s Diary

Darshan Bob, an aspiring model and guitarist from India, shares how stigma associated with vitiligo changed his life.

Darshan Bob

I was 9 years old when I had my first encounter with vitiligo. The year was 2011. It first appeared on my leg and then on my hands and lips. It spread on my face too, but after three years, it disappeared mysteriously.

With increasing white patches, it got harder to go out with my parents. Every time I hung out with my family at a social function, people would come to my parents and express their curiosity toward my skin. It used to make my parents upset. They used to wonder why I couldn’t have normal skin like everyone around me.

When I got into 7th grade, it got very tricky to deal with annoying questions, classmates’ remarks and people’s assumptions that my vitiligo was contagious. I held all this emotional baggage to myself and didn’t tell my parents any of it because I didn’t want them to feel bad. They had already spent a lot of money and efforts on my vitiligo treatment (but nothing worked). I used to cry at night and hated myself for looking a certain way. “Why me” was a persistent question on my mind.

It took me a long time to get used to living with vitiligo. Recently my girlfriend (she was with me since 7th grade) broke up with me because her parents came to know about our relationship. I assume they had a problem with my vitiligo. But, despite all heartbreaks, I am proud of my vitiligo today. I don’t care if anyone says anything negative about my skin. I feel being common is a waste. If we look different and unique, people notice us.

I am inspired by Winnie Harlow’s vitiligo journey. Before knowing her, I never imagined if I could pursue modeling. But, thanks to her, today I feel confident and comfortable in my own skin. However, I still think we need to strengthen the representation of vitiligo in popular culture. I think I never saw anyone with vitiligo in movies. I would love to act in one.

A 10th-grade student, I like singing and I am also learning guitar to give wings to my musical aspirations. I play guitar to escape those upset moments when people pass negative remarks about my skin condition. I listen to Ed Sheeran songs whenever I need little ‘lift me up’ moment. Thanks to my interest in sports. Up until now, I have brought 30 trophies home.

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