Hi readers! Today I have an interview with fellow blogger Gemma Carey. I found conducting this interview extremely interesting due to the fact that Vitiligo is a skin condition that isn't that well known yet it's extremely common. I'd like to thank Gemma before we get started for her honesty and encouragement in this interview. Thank you, Gemma!
So, let's get this interview going!
How does the skin condition Vitiligo impact you?
Vitiligo has affected me differently as I've grown up. It isn't painful and most of the time, people don't notice it as I have quite pale skin naturally anyway. I hate summer because I start tanning which makes my Vitiligo more noticeable. I don't lie in the sun and I don't like wearing shorts or short sleeved tops. Growing up I used to visit doctors and exhibitions to try different ways of getting rid of it, as there isn't a cure. But now at 20, I think I would be quite sad if it went as it has become a part of me all of my life.
When did you first realise you had Vitiligo?
My parents started noticing white spots on my legs when I was 2 years old.
How has having this skin condition effected your self-esteem and body confidence?
It certainly affects what I wear and I feel less confident in front of guys. Even when I'm out at friends or out swimming, I'm very conscious of people looking and wondering what it is.
How did you feel compared to your friends when growing up with Vitiligo?
My friends have been supportive throughout my life. Of course they would ask me what it is and sometimes it may pop up in conversation, but they will always reassure me. For example, recently me and my friends were going out and I was too conscious to have my legs out. My friend said that it wasn't even noticeable. It's little things like that that make me feel better and grateful to have such supportive friends.
Has the effect of this skin condition got any easier for you to deal with as you're now 20 or are you still at the same level of self-consciousness?
I feel a lot better about it now that I've got older. I've learnt to live and deal with it as I know it's probably never going to go away. Naturally people grow up and become more mature about it. I don't get spiteful comments anymore. Of course I am still conscious but it gets to a stage where you have to get over it or I would be so down all of the time.
Recently, a contestant of America's Next Top Model, Chantelle Brown-Young has highlighted this condition and brought awareness to Vitiligo. Has your self-esteem improved due to this new wave of awareness?
I wouldn't say my self-esteem has improved, but it gives me an example to discuss when explaining the condition to someone. I think it's great that there is more awareness now. What annoys me is that Chantelle and America's Next Top Model have glamourised the condition, calling it "beautiful" etc. What people don't realise is that Chantelle was probably bullied as a child and has probably spent most of her life feeling awful because of her condition. Vitiligo is not glamorous and certainly is not seen as glamorous in the real world.
Chantelle recently stated “I need to accept it, embrace it and enjoy it.” What is your top advice to anyone who has recently discovered they have Vitiligo or if they've had it for awhile but still can't come to terms with it?
I think that's a great quote, and she's right. There isn't a cure for Vitiligo so it's important to remain a positive attitude. I enjoy meeting other people with the condition. Join the Vitiligo society, attend exhibitions. Knowing your not alone is comforting, and I know it can sometimes feel like you're alone because it isn't a common condition. Indeed you must accept, embrace and enjoy.
Apart from America's Next Top Model, do you think the media is doing enough to bring attention to this condition and to encourage younger teens that they don't have to conform to what is classed as “perfect” in magazines, films, adverts etc., in order to fit in?
I have seen an article about Vitiligo on Cosmopolitan.co.uk too. I know the media are certainly bringing it to attention but you have to remember that although Vitiligoaffects you mentally and physically, it is not life threatening. The media should concentrate on more serious conditions. And yes, more plus size models etc are being used but that hasn't cancelled out the editing and skinniness. I think there is just more awareness of normality now and that you shouldn't always listen to the media.
Thank you so much, Gemma! If you want to visit Gemma's blog, you can check it out here and you can get in touch with her on Twitter @GemFash!
If you'd like to join me on my 'Take Back What's Yours' campaign, please do get in touch. If you want to read a bit more about what it's all about, here's some posts!
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