Andrea Islas was five years old when she noticed her first vitiligo patch. Her childhood with vitiligo was comparatively easier than teenage when she started realizing that she was a bit different. “There was a kid who used to bully me. Though I remember nothing about it, my mom says it intensified when I was depigmenting rapidly. She took me to the psychologist to make sure that my mental wellbeing was not being impacted by vitiligo. She even bought me makeup and told me – “I am leaving it up to you, just in case you are curious and want to try it one day.” It is a different story that I never used makeup to mask my patches,” Andrea says it all.
There are some things that people commonly get wrong about your vitiligo. Andrea too has to sometimes face people’s assumptions that she is a burn victim. However, it was Andrea’s surroundings that made the difference. She grew up with friends that never minded her vitiligo and never made her feel any different from them. This could be one of the reasons why she loves her vitiligo: “I honestly believe that it was given to me to make me see life from another perspective. It has helped me to have real people around me that are not shallow. It made me look beyond my skin; I couldn’t ask for more.”
Andrea founded Mi Amigo Vitiligo (My Friend Vitiligo in English) – a vitiligo awareness project in Spanish. “I realized that most pages embracing vitiligo are either in English or in other languages. So, I decided to keep my project intact in Spanish. Initially, I was nervous to expose myself like that, but since I started it, I’ve received only love that fills my heart with love. I feel, here in Mexico, we don’t talk much about it. Talking about more and more about vitiligo would normalize it,” Andrea expresses her thoughts about Mi Amigo Vitiligo.
“Do you feel like people with vitiligo are underrepresented in books and movies?” We asked Andrea. “The fact that I don’t see them in any or I haven’t seen one yet, I would say yes,” the 30 years old interpreter and translator replied.
“I support and respect whoever wants to try different treatments, makeup, or anything to cover it. In my case, I re-pigmented after going through some treatment until I got tired of it. In my opinion, we should accept, love and embrace our vitiligo first and then try a treatment. This way, we will be undergoing any treatment with self-love, not fear. Trust me, your body is ready to receive anything good you put it through,” Andrea explains why is it important to believe in the power of positivity and self-love.