On August 31st 1997 I discovered my first spot on my knee, and I remember my mother was desperate and kept repeating “it can’t be happening to her, let it be me”. I didn’t understand why she was so upset, and after her I never understood why anyone would notice it, or make a fuss about it. Twenty years later, I still don’t get it. In these years I lived through bullyism, discrimination, alienation; my family has been told to hide me, to be ashamed of me, that I had became a freak, a monster - and she’s even a girl, what a pity.
Vitiligo is something I talk about, somehow, every day. It is my companion, my filter, my peculiarity. It’s part of my strength. It makes me feel observed, it makes me understand how little it takes to people to be mean, to make you feel different, to make you think you’re less than them.
By now, my friends think vitiligo is not really a condition, not a big deal, that I have nothing. They are wrong; they only see me, but they don’t see what I have to go through, the invasion of my privacy I have to put up with every day.
Every summer, in particular, I’m reminded that I am not ordinary, that others have an opinion about me, that children need an explanation that adults are curious, that most have a solution for me I never asked for. I can’t just wear a bikini, a pair of shorts or decide not to put on any foundation and think I can get away with it. Still, it doesn’t bother me. The names people have used to call me are now only a joke, the comments I hear of people whispering are only noise, the curious and scared looks towards me are a compliment. A geographic map? A Dalmatian? Even a leper? Whatever…
I have never felt different, despite everybody else’s effort. I never had any complex that because of vitiligo I was any less attractive, that I could not be beautiful. Even before models with vitiligo would make it to the first page of magazines.
Yet, vitiligo is not what defines me. My skin is in perfect harmony with my body – well, except when it gets too sunburned I can’t even take a shower – it is how I am.
"This is a love declaration, a celebration of these 20 years together, my always-changing spots."