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Life

What It’s Like to have Vitiligo

There’s only a couple of things in my life that have truly impacted my self confidence, things that have made me look in the mirror and not appreciate what’s right in front of me. One of those things is a skin condition called vitiligo, which has only recently started getting some representation in the media. For those of you who may not know, vitiligo is a skin condition that causes the loss of melanin in the skin and it typically shows up in white patches. If the name Winnie Harlow rings a bell, she’s a model famously known to also have the condition. Now, although there are a few different treatments for vitiligo, all my life I have been told that there is no 100% absolute cure. Hearing that at the age of five is pretty rough. I mean, knowing that I’ll never have “normal” skin no matter how hard I try can definitely be a hard pill to swallow sometimes.

In my case, vitiligo tends to come and go depending on factors such as stress or my overall immune system. Back in 2020, I developed white patches all around my eyes and to be honest, I had never felt so unlike myself. I would look into the mirror and not even recognize my own reflection. For me, that’s the most interesting thing about having vitiligo, my body is constantly changing in appearance. Now luckily I have come to embrace the new patches around my eyes but occasionally, it can be tough knowing that half the time people are talking to me they aren’t looking into my eyes, they’re looking at the white patches around them. I eventually realized that it’s okay though, because although I can’t control where everyone else’s eyes are looking, I can always control my own perception of myself. Plus, I realized that since vitiligo doesn’t have much representation in the first place, of course people are going to be curious about why I look the way I do. That’s why I really wanted to talk about it.

Now as a confident Desi American, it’s tricky knowing that parts of me are missing the melanin I take so much pride in. However, I recently had a revelation about my vitiligo that helped me stop feeling so insecure about it. Here’s the thing, it’s scary not fitting into the stereotypical standards of beauty that society has created for us. But the truth is, confidence and beauty are extremely correlated and not only that, but representation is also key in these types of situations because the more people are aware about vitiligo, the more comfortable it can be to have it and not feel judged.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there will always be days where I simply need some concealer to help me feel better about my appearance, and that’s okay. I mean I’m still learning how to even wear makeup knowing that I have such drastic skin tones to work with. But the truth of the matter is that I am proud of who I am with or without makeup because yes, I do look different, but that doesn’t make me any less beautiful. If you made it this far, thank you for reading about vitiligo and I hope it was interesting to learn about! If you ever have any questions or comments feel free to contact me by clicking on my profile!

Hi! My name is Shaayna (shy-uh-nah) and I am currently a second year here at UVA. I plan on majoring in biology and I'm currently on the pre-med track! I'm a complete workaholic and I love to stay busy but whenever I'm home you can probably catch me binging Marvel or watching YouTube! Catch me @shaaynatiwari on Instagram if you want to follow me or if you have any comments/questions!
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