Welcome to Being Just Us, my virtual space in the blogging world that welcomes you to my journey with vitiligo.
My name is Natalie, I’m from London and I’ve been a passionate advocate for vitiligo since 2013, when my journey towards self-acceptance started after an appearance on London Live.
Before I delve into the work I do raising awareness of vitiligo, I’d like to go back to the beginning when I was first diagnosed at 3 years old; an age too young to pronounce the word, let alone understand what it would mean for me later in life. As a child, life with vitiligo was relatively easy, because for a long while I didnt realise I was different. I grew up in a multicultural area in London and, like most children, I saw people as people. However, things changed drastically when I entered my teenage years and suddenly realised I didn’t fit into the world where perfection was so highly favoured. It was during those years my confidence plummeted, I became incredibly self-conscious and my life revolved around the way I looked. I struggled to accept I was different and carried the weight of hating my skin all the way through my teens and twenties.
Thankfully, the negative outlook I had inflicted onto myself started to change in my early thirties. I had appeared on a news show which lead to me discovering my voice, and the body positivity movement was starting to grow. It was then I realised I wasn’t the only one who was experiencing the negative impact of vitiligo.
Since then I have been using my story to inspire others, give back and help others to recognise the beauty in their skin, like I now have. I didn’t benefit from a support network when I was younger and it’s the reason why I love connecting with so many people – near and far to share insight and to feel a sense of community which i’m now lucky to have.
My personal story has featured in notable magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Stylist, Metro, Dare magazine (by Superdrug), Fabulous magazine, Glamour and Happiful. In 2019, I featured in my first campaign with beauty brand Dove, followed by premium tanning brand, Vita Liberata in the same year. The visual story I share on social media has lead to collaborations with swimwear brand, Stay Wild Swim, global influencer, Nia the Light, European fashion brand Lindex and sun cream brand, Sunsense UK. I have also appeared on The Lorraine Show, BBC Radio 4 Women’s Hour and the BBC 3 series ‘What not to say to someone with vitiligo’. But, most importantly I have found the community that not only supports, but understands what it’s like waking up every day with vitiligo. It’s the community that have helped me be where I am today.
In 2017, I became a trustee at The Vitiligo Society, a charity that played a significant role in my life after joining as a member when I was 6 years old. Now, as a Trustee, I manage their social media platforms, community projects and am also the editor of The VitLife – their members magazine. It’s an honour to be so closely connected to the condition through the work I do with them.
I am also a Campaigner at Changing Faces, an incredible charity dedicated to supporting people with visible differences. As part of the work I do as a campaigner, I have consistently taken part in Face Equality Day, spoken on The Victoria Derbyshire Show and the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on skin and have also presented to children in schools about the importance of accepting those with visible differences and disabilities.
The work I do is what brings me here as Being Just Us which reflects the idea that we can be who we are, just as we are. It’s a way for me to highlight that there isn’t just one type of beauty, but multiple, irrespective of how society and the media have conditioned us to think. The eye sees beauty in so many different ways, which is finally how I see myself. Being here and sharing my story is like writing my personal diary but with a view of sharing and covering so many themes such as being a child with vitiligo, what you can do as a parent of a child with vitiligo, self love, dating and how you can make the change and adopt a positive mindset.
My skin is a constant reminder of my past and present, and is the reason why Being Just Us has come to be what it is. This is for you as much as me. I look forward to connecting and sharing my unfinished journey with you….