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