By Liana Jacob
THIS VITILIGO BEAUTY has turned her insecurity into a career in fashion despite feeling alienated by the strangers who ask if her skin condition is CONTAGIOUS.
Hairdresser, Anna Nass (23), from Umea, Sweden, was just eight-years-old when she discovered her first vitiligo spot behind her knee while she was on the beach. Since it was hidden, she didn’t think much of it, until it began to spread by the time she started high school.
She has a rare condition called non-segmental vitiligo or generalised vitiligo, a long-term condition where white patches develop on both sides of the body in symmetrical patterns.
She started receiving comments from her school peers that her skin looked ‘strange’ and was constantly asked if it was ‘contagious’, which caused her to feel insecure. She refused to do any activities that involved her exposing her skin such as sunbathing.
It took her years to finally come to accept her condition and unique look and thanks to her family and friends who have always supported her from the beginning, Anna gradually felt confident enough to share stunning shots of herself laying her skin bare for all to see on her social media.
“At first I did not think so much about it. But the older I became the more spots I got. I had them all over my hands and legs and chest by the time I was fourteen,” she said.
“People around me started pointing and staring and it felt like something was wrong with me. They began to ask why my skin looked strange and asked if it was contagious.
“This made me very insecure and I started to hide my skin. I refused to sunbathe or wear a dress or shorts. I did not want people to see my disease.
“People have said to my face that it looks disgusting. When this happened, I was still very young and did not know how to handle it.
“When I was thirteen during our sports session, I was in the locker room we would change into our sports clothes and a girl next to me moved all her clothes.
“Then she pointed to me and said ‘eww what’s up there, I hope it doesn’t hurt. You look really disgusting’ with a loud voice and I felt so sad, I didn’t know how to answer. I will always remember that moment.
“I was usually very sad and thought it was my fault. Now that I’m older, I usually explain what vitiligo is if I see someone curious and staring at me.
“I love fashion and beauty and I was so tired of covering up just to hide. I wanted to go to the beach with a bikini or wear a beautiful dress in the summer and still be proud of myself.
“It took me many years before I felt I could learn to live with vitiligo. But I’ve always had friends and family who have been supporting me, so today I can say that I feel proud of my skin and I’m no longer upset when people ask or are curious.
“When I was younger, I really wished I had someone to look up to who also had vitiligo. But before, since there was no social media, you felt so alone with your skin disease.
“Now I really want to be open with my vitiligo and show that beauty is in everything. Sometimes I still struggle and feel a little bit low about it. But I’m trying to ignore those days and just love myself.”
Since she was very young when her vitiligo first spread, Anna wasn’t aware of what it was and her lack of knowledge on it made her feel like she was the only one with the condition.
“I think the hardest part for me was that I thought I was the only one with this disease. In the beginning I felt like I had to hide my skin to avoid mean comments,” she said.
“Luckily, I’ve a really supportive family who have helped me when I was devastated over my skin. Social media also helped me a lot. It makes it so much easier knowing you’re not alone.
“Also, people on social media are so supportive and for me, posting pictures of my vitiligo makes me feel more confident about my spots.
“My family and friends are just happy that I can finally see the same as they have been seeing. They have always thought that my vitiligo is beautiful.
“You should stop hiding, be proud of who you are and other people will see the beauty in you.”
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