‘It feels great to give back and help peo­ple through what I’ve been through’

The Daily Telegraph - Telegraph Magazine - - Just Williams -

SHANKAR JALOTA, 24, is study­ing busi­ness and eco­nomics and is in his fi­nal year at Manch­ester Met­ro­pol­i­tan Uni­ver­sity. He de­vel­oped vi­tiligo, a long-term con­di­tion where pale white patches de­velop on the skin, when he was a teenager.

‘I used to hate pic­tures of my­self. I had no self-con­fi­dence and used to cover up my vi­tiligo with make-up from the Red Cross. (I was ter­ri­ble at put­ting it on, too. I don’t know how girls do it – to­tal re­spect for them!) But then, a year or so ago, I had an epiphany: I was stay­ing over at my girl­friend’s and re­alised I’d for­got­ten my foun­da­tion. I was on a work place­ment at the time and had to go into the of­fice for the first time with­out it. De­spite my ini­tial fears, my col­leagues were all fine. Some asked me ques­tions, some didn’t say much, but the whole ex­pe­ri­ence didn’t feel as ter­ri­ble as I’d imag­ined it would be.

‘I get so many dif­fer­ent re­ac­tions when peo­ple meet me for the first time, but I have to be pa­tient – if I got an­gry, it would just knock my con­fi­dence, and the last thing I want to do is throw my­self back into the old days. I am proud of who I am and em­brace it now. I love my white patches.

‘I have an In­sta­gram ac­count called @thevi­tiligo­man. I use it as a plat­form to show­case vi­tiligo and all the bril­liant things around it. Peo­ple con­tact me from all round the world, telling me their sto­ries and ask­ing for ad­vice. For me, it feels great to give back and help peo­ple through what I’ve been through. I get so much strength from this.’

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