I was 10 years old when I noticed my first vitiligo patch. I once experienced bullying in primary school by three older boys. When I told my older sister about it after two months, she told the boys to leave me alone and they never came near me again. But, that didn’t end my struggle with the skin disorder. Dealing with vitiligo was most difficult during my teenage years. I experienced a lot of name-callings whilst playing football. I dealt with this in one simple way – I let my football do the talking.
I tried every supposed medicine or cure I could find – from herbal to Ayurvedic to steroid creams to tablets and ointments. After years of doing more damage to myself and my skin, I stopped all medicine and let vitiligo do what it wanted to do.
It’s taken me almost 24 years to get used to living with vitiligo. Many people on social media have given me the confidence to accept it and get over those difficult times either through conversations, social gatherings or attending photoshoots. I aspire to do what Winnie Harlow has achieved through modeling.
There are days I still wish I didn’t have it, but the feeling I have right now is of acceptance. If you asked me in 2017, my answer would have been different. Having a good network of friends and family has helped me accept the fact that it’s now a part of me. I don’t remember my life without it now.
I had some tough moments in my life thus far. The toughest among these was losing my father in 2012, after which my vitiligo got very aggressive and took over 60% of my body. I went through a phase of not knowing what it was, to trying every medicine I could find being promised as a cure. I even felt bad for my parents who were spending a lot of money on no cure. Today, I accept it and try to use my experiences to inspire younger people who are going through similar struggles.
I feel people with vitiligo are still underrepresented in popular culture. There should be and could be so much more representation in books and movies. Having enough of it would only help raise awareness and make it even easier for people with vitiligo to accept it.