Living Pretty With Vitiligo My blog - Personal Experience Archives – My blog
Follow:
Browsing Category:

Personal Experience

    Personal Experience

    CHANGING FACES LAUNCHES FIRST EVER FACE EQUALITY DAY

    Last month, Changing Faces launched their first ever Face Equality Day, a major milestone for the charity who recently celebrated their 25th anniversary. Formed to raise awareness and ‘remind’ us to be respectful to people regardless of their appearance, it was a day that would collectively bring people together across the UK, to show support and unity for those with a disfigurement.

    The support was outstanding. Butterfly’s, created as the emblem for the day, were worn and later shared on social media and a number of events took place nationwide to make sure the message reached far and wide! The report itself entitled ‘Disfigurement in the UK’ was published on the 26th May, now officially Face Equality Day.

    The report, based on a survey of more than 800 people, revealed some shocking findings that related to all areas of life, for example, four fifths of those with a disfigurement have avoided applying for a job because they believed their appearance would hinder them at the interview, whilst more than four fifths of people have experienced harassment from a stranger or unpleasantness relating to their appearance. The report was proof that things need to change.

    I remember completing the questionnaire at the beginning of the year. The in depth survey really got me thinking about my personal attitude to my skin and how I managed situations where people would question what had happened to my skin. Whilst I feel fortunate that I have overcome a number of challenges and now fully embrace who I am with Vitiligo, every time I submitted an answer to a question, I thought about others who were doing the exact same task, who weren’t so confident about being different and still felt discriminated against because of a condition they have. A painful reality…

    To coincide with Face Equality Day, I was asked to speak with the lovely Jenny Campbell, an award winning poet and short story writer, and who runs a very successful YouTube channel. We had a chat about Disfigurement and its representation in the media….click the link to find out what I think about the media and how it portrays people who are different…..

    <iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/Isf46cOwhFs” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

    Share:
    Personal Experience

    SKIN MATTERS 2017 – MINIMISE THE IMPACT OF YOUR SKIN CONDITION

    Last weekend, I attended the Skin Matters conference in London……the first of its kind.

    Bringing together leading industry professionals, that included Dermatologists, Clinical Psychologists and panel experts, the aim was to raise awareness and further inform those living with a skin condition. The carefully planned agenda caused for an interactive day that benefited an audience that were mostly living with various skin conditions such as Eczema, Psoriasis and Rosacea.

    I was fortunate to be asked (by the conference founder, Lotte Benson) to take part in the ‘The Lived Experience’ which included myself (as someone with Vitiligo), alongside three lovely ladies who live day to day with those skin conditions as mentioned above. I got to meet the girls before the session at the end of the day, so by the time it came for us to speak to the audience, the energy (and nervous levels!) were pretty high! It was so positive and uplifting sharing the stage with 3 other courageous women who confidently spoke about their experiences and how they’ve learnt to accept themselves and live confidently with their skin. I definitely took something away from hearing them speak!

    Whenever im asked to speak, I always feel like I’m learning more about my own story as well as bettering my presentation and speaking skills, and whilst the whole experience can be pretty nerve racking (those nerves sometimes kicking in from the night before – eek!), its always a great feeling walking off the stage knowing I got through and survived!

    The conference was well received and is definitely needed as a way to bring professionals and those with the conditions together, because after all…our skin most definitely matters.

    Share:
    Personal Experience

    Phoenix Magazine: The Skin We’re In: Meet the Changing Faces Ambassadors Redefining Beauty

    The phrase ‘redefining beauty’ is a term so widely used that it should probably have a page created on Wikipedia by now! A term used across all media platforms globally; it expands and challenges the idea that beauty comes in many forms as opposed to the images we often see plastered in magazines.

    Since giving myself the freedom to speak about my skin, a number of opportunities with magazines have come my way, allowing me to speak about my journey as a girl with Vitiligo.

    My most recent interview was with Phoenix magazine, a luxury fashion and lifestyle magazine based in London and distributed internationally.

    The interview, carried out by the editor; Hannah Gale, was similar to what I’d done before; visually highlighting my skin whilst documenting my experiences with Vitiligo.

    The interview came about as a result of my role as a volunteer ambassador for Changing Faces. The final feature ‘The Skin We’re In: Meet the Changing Faces Ambassadors redefining Beauty’, included a stunning collection of photos in both colour and black and white and featured myself and two other inspirational women (also ambassadors), was published in perfect time, just ahead of Face Equality Day on Friday May 26th.

    Sometimes when I’m reading back over an interview I’ve given, I read it as though it’s someone else’s story. Bizarrely, It really enables me to appreciate and develop a closer connection with the person I am, as I read it and suddenly think ‘that’s me’….

    The full feature is available at https://www.phoenixmag.co.uk/article/the-skin-were-in-meet-the-changing-faces-ambassadors-redefining-beauty/

    Phoenix will feature the interview in the print version of the magazine later this year.

    Photo: Josh Van Gelder at www.theoldschoolstudio.co.uk

     

     

    Share:
    Personal Experience

    Sun Awareness Week 2017

    We all know just how important it is to stay protected in the sun, especially for us with Vitiligo. Since developing Vitiligo, my Mum has stressed the importance of using sun cream with the highest SPF. As kids, whenever we used to travel, both in the UK and aboard, Mum would smother my skin in sun cream before getting me dressed every day. She would always use factor 50 which, even though made me feel as though I was melting in the sun, always prevented me from burning or causing damage to my skin.

    As I got older and became aware that the ‘sun kissed look’ was preferred by the girls in magazines, I started to avoid sun cream altogether. I’d watch as friends applied factor 5 whilst on our summer holidays and convinced myself that just a little sun wouldn’t do any harm. When I realised that Vitiligo prone skin didn’t quite tan in the same way, I quickly learnt my lesson and reached for the sunblock instantly.

    Living in the UK, I’ve always brushed off the idea that the little sun we get will cause any damage, however I soon learnt that even the seven the lowest rays of sun can still have harmful and long lasting effects, even when hiding behind the clouds. Now, I always ensure that my makeup and moisturisers always contain SPF.

    So, what does the sun mean to us with Vitiligo?

    Due to the lack of melanin in our skin, our patches are more vulnerable to sunburn because we have no protection against the sun. ‘Normal’ skin is protected by melanin (skin pigment) whereas for us, our patches mean we have no natural protection against the sun meaning we burn alot quicker.

    To stay well protected, it is vital you use a sunscreen; as this protects us from the ultraviolet lights that comes from the suns rays. There are two types of rays; UVA (long rays) and UVB (medium length rays). To keep our skin well protected, an SPF of 30 or higher is necessary, especially during the hotter months.

    What does Sun Awareness Week mean?

    Sun Awareness week begins on May 8th and was introduced by the British Association of Dermatology (BAD) after a survey revealed that eight out of ten people are failing to apply sunscreen before going out in the sun. A shocking statistic considering the dangers around exposing the skin in the sub. Sun Awareness Week is about increasing awareness around protecting your skin, making sure it is applied properly and reminder that sunscreen should be applied every 2 hours for maximum protection.

    For more information click here:

    http://www.bad.org.uk/for-the-public/sun-awareness-campaign/sun-awareness-week

     

    Share:
    Personal Experience

    Winnie The Game Changer

    Three Years. That’s all it’s taken for Winnie Harlow, model, spokesperson and activist, to ‘shake’ up the fashion industry and prove there isn’t one type of beauty that is worthy of supermodel status.

    Correct me if I’m wrong……but three years doesn’t seem like too long ago, considering she has fronted international campaigns for Desigual and Diesel, made a cameo appearance in Beyoncé’s video for Lemonade, has given an influential Ted Talk entitled ‘My story is painted on my skin’ and has featured in adverts for major brands including Sprite and most recently, Converse.

    Still with me?!

    Last month Glamour Magazine hosted their annual Beauty festival where Winnie was invited to appear as a guest speakers. I knew she was likely to attract a crowd, so I didn’t ponder on the idea of buying a ticket (like I normally would!) and purchased a ticket instantly. After all this was a girl that was positively exposing Vitiligo, the skin condition I spent most of my life trying to keep a secret and along with her 1.9 million Instagram fans, I too, was fascinated by her beauty, attitude and her ability to disallow any negative judgement towards her appearance.

    Held at the iconic Saatchi Gallery at London’s Kings Road, I was thankful that the room where she would be speaking accommodated a small audience, after all the last thing I wanted, was to find myself at the back of the room stretching my neck to allow for a good view!

    With everyone seated and waiting in anticipation for her to arrive, Winnie soon emerged from backstage to a rapture of applause supported by a small entourage (as you do!). She looked effortlessly cool in a Stella McCartney ensemble which consisted of a white long sleeve fitted shirt that subtly revealed the Vitiligo on her upper body and olive drawstring wide-leg trousers. She was, as expected, aesthetically stunning.

    Walking eloquently on stage, alongside British model, Erin O’Connor, she was quick to wave and greet the audience with her wide smile. In that single moment, I didn’t get a sense she had adopted the attitude of a diva but what I did see, was a young, 22 year old girl with a positive aura that circulated the room instantly.

    Winnie has often been referred to as a ‘role’ model, something she has frequently challenged. Developing Vitiligo when she was just 2 years old, she has candidly shared details of what it was like growing up in Canada as a girl with Vitiligo. So when she talks about the taunts, the stares and the pressure to fit it in when being different wasn’t the ‘in’ thing, most of us know exactly what she means. Whether you have Vitiligo or not, Winnie is most definitely someone to admire, even though she adamantly brushes away any talk of being a role model. “The term role model means someone being imitated and I don’t feel like someone that should be imitated” she commented when asked. “I pull inspiration from everyone and am grateful that people feel they can pull inspiration from me’ she continued.

    Warm, honest and wise beyond her years, she spoke about being in the limelight and her hopes for the future. “I’d love to collaborate and work with beauty brands” She commented, before excitedly admitting she’d also love to be asked to walk the infamous Victoria’s Secret runway someday. Appearing on the front cover of Vogue or even Glamour magazine (to which a twinkle appeared in her eye!) was another thing she’d love to see happen in the future.

    When she isn’t boarding a place for another photoshoot, or walking the catwalk, like she recently did for Julian McDonald at London Fashion Week, Winnie likes to keep things casual in gym gear and sneakers.…which is somewhat hard to believe given her impeccable style choices. She spoke fondly about her family and friends and often calls upon her ‘bestie’ when she is away from home. She has formed a close friendship with model Jordan Dunn “who is from Sarf London” (as Winnie liked to put it!) and their similarities in that they are both of Jamaican descent, nicely connects two the beauties.

    Rumours of who Winnie is (or isn’t) dating is often a hot topic in the British press and when asked about potential crushes, she laughed easily before commenting that she thinks guys are ‘cute’, but until she’s actually met a guy in the flesh, its simply just admiration from a distance. She admitted to coming over all shy when she does spot that guy that makes her blush, a refreshing response that made me realise that, glamour aside, she too, has moments of weakness when it comes to dating and love.

    A lot has been said about Winnie trying to ‘distance’ herself away from consistently talking about her skin and whilst, ultimately her skin is the reason why the beauty industry is able to feel more diversified, I’m starting understand that not everything has to be about her skin. Her story of how she evolved as a girl with Vitiligo, has been reiterated so many times, that maybe now is the time to move away from her striking appearance and concentrate on her role within the fashion and hopefully, beauty industry. To have her be known simply as Winnie Harlow.

    With the final question being ‘what is beauty?’ she paused before eloquently explaining that ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder – it’s a question that can be left open’ and with that she was whisked away, through the back door, to continue life as the Winnie Harlow the woman that is proof change is coming…

    Share: