Abbie Wilson, a Flight Training Support, deals with regulatory paperwork for Commercial Pilot training courses. She stays in West Sussex, UK, living her life to the fullest and making each day count. Though you can’t decode that from her smile, Abbie was just 3 years old when she was diagnosed with vitiligo.
Though Abbie wasn’t bullied, she did have the odd silly comment from people at school, calling her a ‘patchwork quilt’ or ‘cream bun face’. “I guess it did affect me in some way, as I have never forgotten those comments. I just used to reply with “it’s called vitiligo” and explain what it was. As an adult, I had different challenges, I worked for a Police Force for 11 years and had developed it on my hands by then, so it was more difficult to hide. I remember while interviewing someone in custody, they said – Ergh, what’s that on your hands? Did you burn yourself?”, Abbie recalls a few heartbreaking incidents.
When Abbie started dating, she always felt she had to say that she’s got vitiligo from the beginning, as she used cover cream to conceal it on her face, so it wasn’t so obvious. “I felt they would run a mile when I showed them my vitiligo, but no one ever did luckily.”
Although the people who matter in Abbie’s life don’t give a second thought about it, vitiligo still makes her feel uncomfortable when she sees strangers taking a second glance: “I can see their brains working, wondering what the patches on my skin are, so I guess I do still wish I didn’t have it in some ways.”
While growing up, Abbie was conscious of the fact that she was ‘different’ but having a good network of friends always made her forgot about it, as she was just ‘Abbie’ to them. “I’ve had vitiligo for as long as I can remember, so it’s always been a part of me. I was always told by my parents that my vitiligo made me special and I wouldn’t be Abbie without it, which really helped me deal with it and be more aware of mine and other’s physical appearance,” 40 years old vitiligo crusader pours her heart out.
Earlier this year, Abbie took part in a photoshoot for The Vitiligo Society’s new website and a little while after that, a photoshoot with a self-tan company, both with other people with vitiligo. She shares her experience, “It was awesome being able to meet others with vitiligo and share our experiences. They were an amazing bunch of people who I now consider my friends. One friend who has lots of tattoos said recently that she loves my skin. She said she’s paid a fortune over the years to make her skin look less normal and I’ve got it for free. I’ve never thought of it like that before.”
Since these photoshoots, Abbie has found the confidence to be more open about her vitiligo on social media rather than trying to hide it. She joined the gym just over a year ago and gained lots of muscle definition besides confidence. “I am currently training for the Spartan Trifecta in 2020 after completing my second Spartan Sprint this year. I love the feeling of getting stronger. Now I can flex my muscles to distract from the vitiligo,” Abbie signs off on a positive note.