Some of you with eagle eyes may have noticed over the years especially during the summer months that my hands are noticeably lighter than the rest of my body. This is not the result of me washing my hands too much or badly applying fake tan, as some felt necessary to bring to my attention over the years on social media. I have been affected by a condition called vitiligo since I was around 5 years old. What started out as a small white dot on my foot has spread to many parts of my body over the years and continues to spread.
This is not something I would normally speak openly about as it draws attention to something I would change about myself in a heartbeat if given the chance. But the whole point of this blog was to challenge head on the various things I’ve had to deal with in life, and only 3 blogs in, I am finding it very therapeutic to be putting pen to paper so to speak. So here goes.
Vitiligo is a condition where pale white patches develop on the skin. It’s caused by the lack of melanin, a pigment in the skin. Probably the most famous sufferer being the ‘king of pop’ Michael Jackson. I am naturally dark skinned thanks to my South African Grandmother, because of this my condition is more prominent. I was very conscious of this growing up but was always a confident lad, so the name calling (cow hands was my favourite!) didn’t bother me too much. Funnily enough it was more recently that it started becoming more of an issue for me, being on a national television show sporting patches of pure white skin will obviously be picked up on by viewers. So when I started to develop patches on my face and neck I did wonder if this in some way was going to affect me career wise. Especially with these much younger, better looking chaps coming through the ranks.
I had a choice to make, either I was going to spend time covering the patches of affected skin every time I appeared on TV or I had to live with it. Funnily enough I chose a happy medium, I’m not a vain person but I do cover the areas on my face and the hands only on occasion. I wish I could blame my rapidly appearing grey hairs on the condition but alas that is just the process of aging!
Now there’s a two pronged message to this blog, the first being before you choose to chuck out random comments regarding someone’s appearance, try and get the whole story first, it may not be vitiligo or any related skin condition, but all of us and I mean ALL of us have insecurities. I do consider myself very lucky to have the mindset that I couldn’t give two shits what people say or think of me but many take comments, even the ones deemed as banter, to heart and it can seriously cause damage to the person in question. Something said flippantly can cause untold damage to someone already insecure about themselves. It actually surprises me that people have enough time on their hands to negatively comment about someone’s appearance. So the message here is that before you press that send button on that carefully draughted Tweet, stop and think what you comment could do outside of the Twitter bubble. You may be surprised.
The second message and this is the important one, is be proud of who you are. I’m not saying it’s easy, its not, but a content heart makes for a content life. It’s something I’ve also experienced through my Dad Steve, an accident left him with serious burns and scarring to large areas of his face and body. I know every day is a challenge for him to contemplate what has happened and also the obvious changes in his appearance, to me he will always be the best looking bloke in the family but I know in his mind he struggles with the situation. Vitiligo can be hereditary, my mum actually developed it a few years ago and my nephew Lawson has it too, hopefully mild cases, and being the family vitiligo veteran I will be on hand to support them in the same way I will be there to support my little one if she develops it at some point in her life. I’ve actually grown to accept and even like my patches, I guess they make me truly individual. We are all individual, start to love your so called flaws because we are only here for a short time, you could be spending so much of your time and energy on things that don’t really matter that before you know it life has passed you by.
This blog to me is a two way street, so anyone affected by this condition feel free to leave me a comment, I will try my best to answer and support any queries that you may have on the matter.
So to my fellow sufferers there is support out there for you and some great products on the market. Take a look at http://www.vitiligosociety.org.uk but most of all try to embrace the uniqueness of this condition.
Massive thanks to Charlotte at www.sumartdesign.com for the amazing pictures too.