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    4 Ways To Help Your Child Understand Vitiligo

    At what age do you explain to your child that they have Vitiligo? Or do you wait for them to come home from school one day after one of the kids has perhaps asked questions about their skin?

    I don’t ever really remember my parents telling me what Vitiligo was. I vividly remember the endless train journeys to Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital in London and the play area in the waiting room that kept all the kids quiet until their names were called over the tannoy, but I don’t actually remember when I realised what I was going for or ever asking why I was going! Mum says I questioned my skin when I was around 6 years old. I’d come home from school and apparently one of the kids in my class had asked me what it was, to which I replied ‘I don’t know’…. because I genuinely had no idea. It was then she told me I had a skin condition called Vitiligo and that there was nothing wrong with me. That was the end of it. It was never a hot topic or spoken about again unless someone had brought it to my Mum’s attention….

    As a parent, trying to get your head around Vitiligo or any condition for that matter, can be tough, especially when they are newly diagnosed. So with that in mind, how must it feel for a child to understand the reasons for their slightly unusual skin tone that makes them different from the other kids in the class? Here are the ways, from my own personal experience growing up, how you can help you child understand Vitiligo…

    Explain to them what it is in simple terms

    I know this must sound like I’m stating the obvious, but it can often be difficult trying to explain a condition to a child in simple terms if its not so simple. The key is, try not to over complicate things to quickly! Young children don’t need to understand the technicalities behind Vitiligo, so talking about it being an autoimmune disease and that the loss of pigment is due to the lack of melanin in the skin, isn’t necessary. A child friendly explanation could simply be ‘You have a condition called Vitiligo which means white patches appear on the skin’. All the other stuff can come later in life when they are old enough to understand. When my nephew, who is 8 has asked me what was wrong with my skin, I responded by saying ‘Auntie Nat has a skin condition. It just a little different to yours’, which he accepted and has never felt to ask me again since.

    Show them stories with characters that have indifferences, including Vitiligo

    Back when I was growing up, there were barely any black or mixed race characters in the children’s books I read, so there certainly wasn’t a Naomi or Natasha with Vitiligo! Looking back, I honestly believe this would have helped ‘normalise’ my skin and help me to see it in a positive light.

    Now with books such as Skin Deep: A Childs Story and Snow White and The Seven Patches in which the lead character has Vitiligo, we are able to teach our children through story telling and show them that there are characters in every day life that represent them.

    Remain positive

    I know as a parent you will want to remain positive, but I also understand it can be difficult as you wonder how they are getting on in school or even panicking because you’re not sure how much your child’s Vitiligo will spread. Out of all those people your child comes into contact with, you’re likely the one that will comfort them through difficult times and reassure them if they do face any challenges. My parents always dressed me in shorts and t-shirts during the summer because they refused to have me think that I had something to hide. They always remained positive and hopeful during hospital visits, and didn’t let me think that Vitiligo would stop me from doing the things I loved, such as swimming.

    Banish the Bullshit

    Regardless of your skin colour, religious beliefs, gender or size there is always going to be that kid in the class that spouts negativity! Try and prepare your children for the obvious questions that may arise such as ‘What is it called’? ‘Can you catch it’? (I wish I could banish this question!) and ‘Were you born with it’?. Not only will this allow them to understand their condition, but it will also allow you to dispel any myths that are often associated with Vitiligo, such as it being contagious and stress being a key factor of its cause.

    Since being a trustee at The Vitiligo Society, I often here from parents who have discovered patches on their child’s skin and are often unsure how to deal with their child’s changing skin. I cant stress enough how important it is for you to remain positive, even though their might be occasions when you want to shut the door and shed a tear because you’re not sure what it means in the long term. Try not to worry to much. In all the years I’ve had Vitiligo, I know that having a skin condition in the present time is probably the best time to be different because all around us unique conditions are being celebrated and body confidence has never been so powerful across social media in particular. Remain confident and hopeful for them because if they know you love and support them, chances are they’ll know everyone else will too…

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    6 Reasons why Vitiligo Shouldn’t Come Between You & Your Date…

    Ah! Dating! That wonderful topic that could consume an entire night during a dinner catchup with friends! From bad dates, to blind dates to the amazing dates that lead to marriage proposals after 6 weeks (it happens!), dating isnt dating if you havent got a good few stories to share….

    But what does dating feel like when you have a skin condition such as Vitiligo? For some it may overshadow the entire experiecnce, altering what we choose to wear and possibly, how we come across. I recall occassions where i’ve been on a date, having flitatious conversation, enjoying the type of company that makes you forget you’re in a public place, but at the back of my mind I’d be waiting for the dreaded question that felt like it needed a drum role beforehand “So, what happened to your skin”? In that very second, my heart would sink as my alterego attempted to confidently explain what it is, why I have it and how its very much apart of who I am….

    Vitiligo, or any skin condition for that matter, can sometimes make you feel like you can’t be yourself. Aside from the usual prep like ensuring your nails are pefectly manicured, to deciding how to wear your hair and what girly scent will send his senses a little wild, one of the hardest decisions to make is, what to wear. However, for us, as girls with Vitiligo, we sometimes have additional concerns, like ‘do I wear something that covers my patches’ or ‘do I dress freely in something that might show off my skin’? I was always the girl that would cover up, often choosing skinny jeans, a blouse with long sleeves or a fitted blazer becacuse I was too self-conscious about wearing something that would show the patches on my arms.

    Thankfully, I’ve learnt a lot about dating over recent years and most importantly, have become more open with what I wear and how I portray myself when I’m actually on a date. I’ve learnt a lot from guys I regard as good friends who have spoken honestly about women, dating and what their choices are based upon…. and I can assure you for the majority, it isn’t your skin…..

    So here’s what i’ve learnt in my quest to find the one…

     Don’t Let Vitiligo Define You…

    Yes, your Vitiligo is very much part of who you are and who you’ve become, but don’t let it be the sole purpose of your existance. There is so much more to you than your skin. When you meet a guy for the first time, don’t feel pressured to explain what it is, or worry beforehand at the prospect of it becoming a topic of discussion. Talk about all the other stuff that makes you who you are – your love of sport, travelling to faraway places or how you love to indulge in chcolate after a long week at work, because they are the things that make you happy. Your skin is apart of you, its not the only thing that makes you, you…..

    We are responsible for our own happiness…

    Try not to have the expectation that part of the guys job is to make you feel good about yourself. Sure, its good to date a guy who knows how to compliment and appreciate you, when you’re looking and feeling your best, but try to avoid feeling as though he should supplement your happiness. I once believed it was a guys job to compliment and make me feel comfortable if I chose to wear a t-shirt or a swimsuit on the beach, but I soon realised im responsible for feeling good about me and anything else is a nice bonus!

    Guys arent as concerned about your skin as you might think…

    Apologies if that is borderline blunt, I just want to build on the point that your skin isn’t what determines who you are as a person. I can’t speak for all guys, but honestly, the majority are not worried about your skin. Imagine you’ve been talking for weeks, exchanging flirtatious one liners, feeling each other’s energy and you’re simply feeling a really good vibe. Date night arrives. You’ve arranged a great meeting spot and you’ve chosen the outfit that makes you feel confident. When you think of everything that surrounds that vision, where does Vitiligo fit in? I’d love if you could honestly say ‘nowhere’…

    I remember catching a guy staring at my hands once. He was incredibly hot, so the shear thought of his eyes transfixed on my porcelain white hands almost made me crumble. Seconds later, he took my hand and told me how beautiful they were and then proceeded to tell me how his cousin developed Vitiligo when he was 12 years old. It made me realise how negatively assuming my thoughts can sometimes be and just how often I think the worst when really they could be thinking the opposite. For me, it really broke the ice in the most endearing way. I valued the honesty and the openness which made me feel as though I could comfortably be myself.

    Confidence is the most attractive quality…

    As women, we like confidence in a man….men like the same…and believe me its all the rage these days! If you look around you and on social media, there are endless advocates promoting body confidence and embracing all that we are aesthetically. Now, I’m not saying that all guys are open to dating girls that embrace their differences, but a large percentage love a girl that loves herself. The girls that are content and accepting of who they are the ones that are probably quite fun to be around.

    If you’re content, comfortable and realise your own self-worth, then a guy will see those things you see. If you’re someone who isn’t comfortable in their own skin and expresses that, not only can it put pressure on a relationship but it can become hard for a guy to convince you that you are a beautiful person…..especially if you don’t believe it yourself.

    Don’t make any assumptions…..

    Don’t make any assumptions on what you think the other person is thinking. You will never really know, so let conversations take place and enjoy the moment without being paranoid you know what is going on in their head. I’ve had dates where guys have asked me about my skin and others where they’ve not asked me at all. I used to find it strange if I wasn’t asked, because I naturally assumed they must curious and would want to know why my skin was the way it was.

    Ive stopped looking at it too deeply. If he doesn’t ask, im open to the fact it doesn’t bother him. Im also open to the fact that he will ask someday, but for now he isnt getting to know my skin, he is getting to know me and my potential as a partner (and vice versa).

    Promise yourself this…

    The next time you are preparing for a date, focus on the things that are important. The things that are happening in the current moment – for example when you’re getting ready, painting your nails and leaving the house with half a bottle of Chanel following behind you….

    Nerves are natural and expected….even for the those most confident. As is, changing your outfit three times because you can’t decide whether the peplum top looks better than the cold shoulder top, but don’t add Vitiligo to the list of things to worry about. That can come later, but preferably not at all…

    Disclaimer: My posts are never written to offend. They are my personal viewpoints based on my own personal experiences. I hope you enjoy reading…

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    6 Vitiligo Related Instagrammers You Should Follow in 2018!

    From Vitiligo Beauty that globally champions those with Vitiligo, to the unique beauty bloggers who demonstrate how to highlight and enhance their Vitiligo rather than conceal it, there are endless Vitiligo groups, bloggers, models and advocates that you should be following on Instagram, if you aren’t already!

    Social media is incredibly powerful when it comes to bringing stories to life and capturing moments in the simplest way. I only found that out in 2015, five years after it was born! Discovering the different groups and profiles on really opened my eyes to just how many people in this world have the condition and how open they are with it. I loved that it opened the ‘gateway’ to communication globally and allowed for honest and truthful discussion with the real people at the heart of the condition.

    I’m never massively been into social media and so the thought of creating another social media platform, with the added pressure of taking photos that were instagram worthy, felt like a stressful chore that I had no interest in investing time in. That changed when I caught a glimpse of a group of girls lazing on the beach in Santa Monica (one of whom had Vitiligo) that I realised just how influential and visually appealing photos can be! A short while after I had created my own profile and was scrolling through endless holiday snaps so that I could start building followers and of course, tracking down and following all the Vitiligo related groups!

    Now, as I call myself a committed Instagrammer, I share with you my top 6 favourite Vitiligo groups and advocates that I recommend you follow;

    Living Dappled

    Formed in 2016 by Erika Page, the Living Dappled movement is the Vitiligo page for girls, women and children. Living Dappled has a growing community of followers that allows for support and encouragement amongst each other, and the follower traction is quick! It is great for initiating conversations, opening discussions and getting you thinking about the many journeys those with Vitiligo face. The photography is clean, simple yet visually striking.

     The Vitiligo Society

    The Vitiligo Society is the UK’s only charity aimed at supporting those with Vitiligo and providing the latest updates on research, treatment and the management of the condition. Formed in 1984, the long running charity has a strong network of medical professionals that support the work in which they do. Their Instagram page, which was formed in February 2016, has attracted over 1200 followers so far and its not even been 12 months yet! Their page consists of inspiring photography with stories that outline the different issues; challenges and pathways people have faced with the condition.

    Vitiligo NL

    Based in the Netherlands, Vitiligo NL is the official account for the association that was formed in 1990. With great photos and captions to support, it’s a key group to keep track of and tag yourself in if you’d like to be featured.

    Laur_elyse

    Lauren Elyse has been called many things….baddass, talented & wow worthy! With more than 307k followers, she is one of the most influential makeup artists associated with Vitiligo. Her unique makeup skills which showcase some striking looks include peridot eyes, sea witch lips and peachtwist cheeks. A makeup artist like no other!

     Vitiligo Beauty

    With a following of 14.5k, the page name gives away exactly what this group is dedicated to….an array of beauties with the condition. This page is simple, you post, you tag and they share. Get your pictures posted!

    radiantbambi

    Better know as Ashley Soto, this is the girl that literally has the world painted on her body! She emerged in 2017 when her story was shared with the likes of The Daily Mail, Cosmopolitan and Allure and since then she has gained recognition for her positive outlook and the love she has for her body! She is a body positive activist and has even recreated her body through famous artists such as Van Gogh.

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    Reflecting on the stories of 2017

    Let’s be honest; 2017 was a pretty good year for raising awareness through the stories we openly shared via social media, on TV and in magazines and newspapers. So before we take a positive step into 2018; its worth taking a look back at some of the momentous stories that were shared throughout the year, revealing some insights into living with a skin condition like ours.

    Here are 7 memorable features and stories from 2017:

    Artist creates dolls with Vitiligo to show children that diversity is beautiful

    These dolls created by Kay Customz are not only stunning, but send out a strong message to kids; that we are all beautiful and no one should be excluded. Inspired by Winnie Harlow, these dolls show that diversity is something to celebrate.

    Vitiligo: My Journey Through Art

    I was truly saddened by the treatment of Raki Chaki who was subject to many forms of treatment as a result of the stigma of Vitiligo often connected to those from an Indian background. I was inspired by how she finally learned to give her skin a voice….

    At Last! Whether you suffer from acne, psoriasis or Vitiligo, there’s a new suncream that works for your skin

    Wearing suncream has always been high on the agenda when it comes to protecting our skin during the summer months. However, questions have always been raised around which SPF we should use and which brands offer the best protection against the sun. In August, in an article written for the Daily Mail, a number of best buy products were tested and recommended for skin conditions such as Vitiligo.

    New transplant restores colour to skin damaged by Vitiligo by taking pigment cells from unaffected areas before stimulating them with a laser

    This informative and detailed article which featured in the Daily Mail discusses Vitiligo, the different treatment options and pigment transplant surgery RenNovaCell, a type of treatment that stimulates pigment cells.

    The women who described herself as the ‘human oreo’

    Sharekia Winston developed Vitiligo just months after giving birth to her daughter. In this moving story, she tells of her journey from diagnosis to self-acceptance.

    Winnie Harlow just made the most important point with this nude selfie

    Remember when Kim Kardashian broke the Internet when she appeared on the cover of New Yorks, Paper magazine in 2016? Well, to us, this is exactly what Winnie done when she released a naked selfie on Instagram in August!

    Striking a dramatic pose in nude underwear, Winnie simply slayed in the photo taken as a reflection in the mirror and finished it off with a very strong message to all her followers….

    This adorable little girl is teaching everyone a lesson

    A great feature to finish off the year! The story of six year old Maya Johnson who rocks confidence and doesn’t let her skin go unnoticed on Instagram…

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