Skin conditions are considered wrong in our society and people that have them are constantly labelled and bullied. But this treatment needs to stop. One such condition is Vitiligo, and one of our beautiful mashion followers – Mehak P – has written about her empowering experience with it and why people that have it should embrace it. Read her article below:
“What is it?”
“Is this leprosy?”
“Did you get a burn scar?”
“Did you drink milk over fish?”
“Stay away from her – we can get it as well!”
“Why don’t you get yourself treated?”
“Just go for a surgery, girl, your face has started looking ugly!!”
“No one will marry her with such a DISEASE”
I have grown up getting unwanted stares, unkind treatment suggestions and awkward questions my whole life. Not because of something bizarre like my kidney hanging outside of my body, or my eyes having popped out of my face, but because I have a skin condition which is not under my control.
Living with vitiligo for the past 16 years has been quite an experience for me. Vitiligo is an autoimmune disorder which causes the melanin to stop making the pigment of my skin, resulting in white irregular patches on the body. Unlike other autoimmune disorders (MS, Hashimoto, Type 2 Diabetes, Thyroid, Rheumatoid Arthritis, IBD, and so on) it doesn’t cause any physical effects. The only physical harm is the sunburn that one gets if they don’t apply a good SPF. 1-2% of the world’s population has vitiligo. Among them, 3-4% of Pakistanis have it, so I have quite a few people who share this with me!
What’s It Like To Live With Vitiligo in Pakistan?
Emotionally, it is difficult as people suffering from this are bullied because of it. They are humiliated and labelled them with names like ‘dab kharabbi’ (the one with spots), ‘gae k mooh wali’ (the one with a cow face), ‘koorh wali’ (the one with leprosy), and so on. It’s unkind how people discriminate others on the basis of skin colour.
Does It Bother Me?
To be very honest, vitiligo has never bothered me at any stage of my life. 16 years, and I still face new spots every day. It makes me feel so empowered because of how much I have changed in the past few years. Every new spot has taught me to welcome unexpected things in life which I never imagined would happen. They have given me the will to fight societal stares and treatment suggestions. Every new spot has made me thank for all the blessings I have. So technically, vitiligo has played a huge role in what and who I am today – in a positive way.
Do I Want It To Spread More?
Hell yes! I want it to spread as much as it can so that I can flaunt it easily (being a hijabi, I can’t show certain parts of my body). The more I will be able to show, the more vitiligans will get confident and comfortable in their own skin. And that’s what matters the most!
Is There A Cure?
As much as the derma and pharma industry try to make you believe that there is a cure, trust me, there isn’t. Disorders are a permanent default we cannot fix. Diseases can be treated but disorders can’t. You can treat the symptoms or even a disorder to some extent, but temporarily. No one can give you a guarantee that it has been ‘cured’ forever, and that it will never come back. Whoever promises you with such lies is scamming you. I don’t want people to spend a stupendous amount of money – yes, the treatments are pretty expensive, as are the ointments – or waste a good phase of their life doing a specific diet to fix something which is not even broken! You don’t need a cure for a skin condition which is not even a disease.
Common Myths And Stereotypes
- No, you don’t get vitiligo by having milk and fish together.
- Vitiligo is not contagious.
- Vitiligo is not Leprosy and no – this isn’t any punishment for your sins!!
- You will get married when you want to and when you’re meant to get married, irrespective of the fact that you have vitiligo! Marriage and vitiligo do not go hand to hand.
My Advice To Vitiligans:
We live in a culture where people don’t understand that boundaries should be respected, so they make unwanted remarks and ask awkward or intrusive questions. I always preach to stay calm and answer them. How can someone know that we don’t have a disease if we do not tell them?
Sometimes, we need to remind people how they are supposed to treat others. We should keep raising our voices until we are heard. For how long we will have to hide under our cocoons? It’s time that vitiligo should be normalised in our society, as should eczema, psoriasis, acne, and other skin conditions.
No one is going to love your spots if you are not going to do it for yourself. And that’s what makes me move forward and preach as much as I can. Do not believe in the ‘perfect skin standard’. The beauty industry will keep on making you feel uncomfortable just so you can buy their products to look better, beautiful, and to have perfect flawless skin. But remember: there is no rule or law that defines what perfect or beautiful skin is! Embrace yours. There is so much to love about it!