I’ve lived with vitiligo almost my whole life, here’s why June 25th is the most important day for me

I’ve lived with vitiligo almost my whole life, here’s why June 25th is the most important day for me

When I got older and went to secondary school the bullying stopped but my self consciousness didn’t. I can remember putting foundation on my knees and wearing nude tights so that I could wear skirts like all the other girls and not worry about my knees being on show. I chose long-sleeved shirts over short sleeves so I could cover the vitiligo that had suddenly sprouted on my elbows.

At around the age of 12 my parents decided to take me to see a dermatologist. They could see how vitiligo was affecting me and she wanted to see if there was anything we could do. It was then that I was told about UVA/UVB light treatment (or phototherapy) which I started and continued to have once a week for two years. It works in a similar manner to a sunbed but your skin is instead exposed to very specific wavelengths of ultraviolet A or ultraviolet B light from a special lamp, and the treatments are monitored carefully to keep exposures well below the threshold for any possible cancer development.

It worked in certain areas that I had patches, such as my hips and knees, but wasn’t as effective on places closer to the bone such as my hands or feet. There is no cure for vitiligo. Although treatment may be helpful in restoring the colour, it cannot prevent its spread or recurrence.

Though phototherapy helped me feel more confident, I came to the realisation that it was never going to change. I began to accept my skin condition for what it was and decided to embrace it instead. It made me unique, so I started to show it off proudly.

In my teens, when social media became the norm, I began to see other people posting pictures of their patches for World Vitiligo Day. I came across Winnie Harlow around this time, too, and she inspired me so much. She was called similar names to me as a child and yet there she was; this stunning supermodel that oozed self-assurance. Landing on the 25th June every year, WVD is a date which I always look forward to and usually celebrate with a shameless post of my own.

You’ll see people from all over the world championing each other, sharing stories and spreading the word. Some of these people, myself included, have even had the privilege of being photographed by Brock Elbank – a photographer renowned for campaigns on Instagram and for documenting people’s differences in various photography collections. His vitiligo series made me feel normal and special all at once, and I know the same can be said for everyone else he captured.

@georgiatrodd / Instagram

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