I was 3 years old when I was diagnosed with vitiligo. As a child and teen, it was more difficult to come to terms with it. I experienced a lot of bullying. Sadly, I knew no coping mechanism at that time because as a child I didn’t know why I was getting bullied. I used to end up crying.
India is one big country where many myths surround vitiligo. Growing up, I have heard people saying that it must be genetic. Many assumed me to a burn victim while others thought it can be transmitted with touch. The most common lines I have heard over years are “How will u get married?” and “Who will marry you?”
All these years, I had no one to encourage me. All I had was my family. I wanted to repay them for all the sacrifices and the hard work they had put in raising me. It motivated me to achieve something in life. Now, I have reached a stage where professionally people respect me. That gives me confidence that your physical appearance doesn’t matter as far as your professional life is concerned.
I have always turned down vitiligo treatments and never used makeup to hide it. But, after getting in touch with people with vitiligo on social media, I have started accepting it. I sometimes wish I didn’t have it but that is not going to make it go away. Connecting with people that have a positive attitude towards vitiligo has made me embrace it. My physical appearance doesn’t define me anymore.
In India, vitiligo is still considered taboo. People stare at you if you have a different appearance. There is no emotional support available to people with vitiligo. Hence, I feel more people need to be educated on this skin condition so that they don’t pity people with vitiligo, especially girls. Sadly, most people still judge you by the way you look. Nobody is interested in knowing what kind of person you are. I want people to change their perspective.
I feel, we as vitiligo fighters, are more sensitive and understanding of others’ emotions. It would be nice if people do the same. So far, people with vitiligo have never taken center stage in movies or books. I have never seen a book or movie where vitiligo is mentioned or seen. I can only wish it to change soon.