I was born in Kazakhstan where my journey with vitiligo started. I was diagnosed with a skin disorder at the age of 6. My family, being very afraid at the time, accompanied me to many hospitals where I underwent all kinds of treatments for vitiligo with no results.
When I was 7, we moved to Prague, Czech Republic. Kids around me didn’t understand why I looked different. I was bullied so much that I had to change school three times. No social media was available at that time, which could instill a sense of belongingness in me as I hardly met and knew anybody with the same condition. There was no Winnie Harlow around; there was a lack of awareness among people who always somehow assumed that it was contagious.
Until 20, I tried to cover myself and my patches. I would always wear dark clothes. Perhaps, that’s why summer times would turn into a nightmare. As much as I tried to love myself during my teenage, I hated my body. In my head, I often found myself saying – “You understand that you probably will never go out with any guy on a date, and if you go and he will see it; he will run away.”
With time, I started counting my blessings. I realized how lucky I was to have amazing family and friends who supported me. I started to understand that I am not rich to pay for all expensive treatments which may or may not heal me. By this time, I knew that I had to change my attitude toward it. Soon, I started owning it, but still, it took me almost 7 years to convince myself that I am beautiful.
The moment I step out of my apartment, I have to ignore all people who end up staring at me, simply because I look different. But, once you begin to be convinced that you are who you are, everything changes around you for better. Today, I want to be an example for those with vitiligo who are still struggling to love themselves. I want them to find their purpose in life.