Every year on the 25 June, the global vitiligo community comes together to celebrate World Vitiligo Day and the importance of raising awareness of the condition. Now in its 10th year, it is a moment in the calendar that started as a small, local event in Nigeria, which quickly grew to become an international celebration of vitiligo and what it is today.
For me, World Vitiligo Day is more than just a day dedicated to raising awareness. It’s an acknowledgment of the many years I spent disguising my skin with makeup, avoiding public conversations and feeling as though I didn’t fit in with society.
As a child living with the condition during the early 90s, being part of a community wasn’t possible because it was relatively unknown and there wasn’t much research invested into what causes the condition. In fact when I was diagnosed at three years old, my GP had to scan through a medical journal for confirmation and still couldn’t tell my parents what it was!
Aside from it being a celebratory moment, there is also the more serious element: raising awareness and educating the wider public, including medical professionals. There are still so many assumptions made about the condition, with those who have little awareness often second guessing what it might be, not to mention the daily stares from others which can be difficult to avoid.
They are often the reason why people prefer to cover up. For that reason in particular, education is key so that others have a better understanding of the condition and for us, it means we are a step closer to vitiligo being more normalised and no longer experiencing the feeling of exclusion.
On the day, from what I have experienced previously, people will use their social media platforms to share inspiring content, from those who actively use their voices to raise awareness, as well as people finding the courage to share their skin for the first time.
Global support groups and organisations dedicated to the cause will also host events inviting speakers to share their story to encourage engaging conversations amongst groups. And because is now recognised globally, it really does feel like the celebrations last for a whole 24 hours!
After years of feeling as though I was missing the ability to feel connected to a group I had something in common with, a day like the 25 June is a reminder why community is the foundation to self acceptance….
I’m proud Changing Faces is supporting World Vitiligo Day and helping to raise awareness.
If you have vitiligo, or any other scar, mark or condition that affects your appearance, Changing Faces has support services for you. If you call or fill in the email form, the Support and Information line team will have a chat with you and talk you through the different services that might be a help to you, from the online community forum to 1-1 counselling support. They’re great listeners!