While navigating cities, jobs, and universities, we find very few people with a dual skin tone. An event like World Vitiligo Day (WVD) just makes us realize that there are many like us and we are indeed part of a thriving vitiligo community.
The more all of us talk about the World Vitiligo Day, one less vitiligo fighter is stared at, bullied or judged. It’s not about our personal pain; it’s more about a service to the vitiligo community than a personal struggle. Makes sense, right? So, how can you make WVD a success in your individual capacity, being a part of this momentous occasion? Well, here are 7 ways to do so:
1. Join a WVD conference
Living with vitiligo is a very silent and lonely struggle. Unless you attend a vitiligo awareness event on the world vitiligo day, you are never going to make a real connection with fellow vitiligan. You will always feel like that odd man/woman out who stands out wherever he/she goes.
Seeing community members talking to each other and sharing their personal struggle with vitiligo will make you feel less lonely in your fight against vitiligo and help you build that sense of belongingness. This will, in turn, make you feel more secure and “normal” in your everyday life.
2. Run for vitiligo awareness
You may not have the budget to travel to a WVD conference or your city may not be hosting any of such awareness drives. So, what do you do in that case?
Get a t-shirt printed with slogans like “Vitiligo is not contagious”, “I can donate blood too”, “I am not a burn victim, I just have vitiligo” and go for a run in the park or open road. This will invite conversation among the general public and you will have an opportunity to dispel some myths associated with vitiligo too.
3. Participate in placard campaign
We understand that not every vitiligo fighter is that extrovert. Some of us have some serious social anxiety and bad self-image issues. If that’s the case, social media can be your refuge to spread some awareness of vitiligo. Hold a placard with slogans mentioned above (in point 2) and get clicked. Now share these pictures on social media to educate the population that is vitiligo free.
To maximize your outreach within the community, you can always include trending vitiligo hashtags like #WorldVitiligoDay, #Vitiligo, and #UniteForVitigo. Else, submit your placard photos to submission-based vitiligo social accounts like @Vitiligo.Beauty, @Vitligopeople, @UniteForVitiligo @Vitiligo.World, or @Vitiligo.Jpg.
4. Gift free merchandise
Vitiligo awareness advocacy doesn’t necessarily mean raising money for awareness drives and knocking on doors for research funds. You can indeed find a smart way to be a vitiligo awareness advocate. Get merchandise made (key chain, can openers, cap, t-shirt, jerseys) that debunk common vitiligo myths. Since all these items are useful and you will be distrusting them in your network or neighborhood for free, they will carry your awareness message with long shelf life.
Anybody who will visit your neighbors or friends will see these merchandises and be educated on vitiligo right away. In order to make this exercise work, be sure to invest in quality material (in case of key chains or can openers) and soft fabric (in case of t-shirt or caps).
5. Ditch makeup
Many of us haven’t revealed our vitiligo diagnosis to friends, school mates or dates. We often hide the spots underneath a heavy layer of makeup, which only makes us feel imprisoned by vitiligo. Over the years, World Vitiligo Day has become an annual event when people and celebrities open up to people about their vitiligo alike. You too can take this courageous step this WVD to be free of all judgments.
YouTube would be a powerful platform to share your ‘coming out’ story (similar to something featured below). By going make-up free, you will be standing by the powerful message of self-acceptance in your personal networks and contribute to the strength of the vitiligo community at large.
6. Start your own vitiligo support group
It is a sad reality that not all localities have vitiligo support groups. Your locality can be one of them. Vitiligo support groups provide all members an outlet to share their coping mechanisms, struggles, and triumphs while living with vitiligo. So, having no vitiligo support group in your locality means having the absence of all of that. But, if that’s the case, why don’t you start a support group of your own. Write social media that you are interested in forming a support group on the occasion of WVD.
Once the group is formed, you can arrange meetings in parks, restaurants or even at your home. When people will share their thoughts, doubts, and struggles with strangers and stares, you will see your own reflection in the mirror. It will make all group members feel good that someone finally “gets it.” In the end, founding a support group will enable you to extend awareness, understanding, and support for individuals with vitiligo in your area.
7. Help a nonprofit organization
Since 2011, World Vitiligo Day has become a global day to act against the social and psychological trauma attached to vitiligo. Many organizations around the world are working toward generating awareness of vitiligo in the general public. And, to make them have their impact with more important drives, it’s important that we help them financially.
Even though these organizations are non-profit, they still incur the functional cost. And, to help them function well, it’s our responsibility to make large to small donations. Remember, these organizations have the network (doctors, researchers, lobbyists, and volunteers) and reach to educate the general public on vitiligo. You can search on the internet to find some of these organizations that take donations.