Of all the posts I write throughout the year, the ‘end of year’ reflection post is by far one of my favourites to write because it means I get to reflect over the good and the bad of the past 12 months and give some thought to what I learnt and what changes I’ll be making in the New Year. 2019 has been kind to me. I feel very fortunate. I’ve been presented with some great opportunities in relation to sharing my story and making a small impact in the space I’ve been given and in parallel, feel as though I’ve really worked on developing myself and ensuring I’m completely at peace with my body in every way. So, lets start reflecting! Here are my best bits from 2019!
A PHOTOSHOOT PUBLISHED IN 28 COUNTRIES
The year started with a photoshoot in Amsterdam. I was incredibly excited about this particular shoot because, not only did it mean travelling to another city and squeezing in a quick getaway with Mum, but it meant working with a photographer that wasn’t London based, which, in a way gave the shoot a fresh new perspective.
In 2018, Haarlem based photographer Elisabeth Van Aalderen commissioned a project called ‘Shades of Pale’, which aimed to celebrate the uniqueness of vitiligo and fully appreciate the beauty of those affected by the condition. What made this project even more personal for Elisabeth is that she also has the condition and was keen to weave vitiligo into her passion for photography.
It was Living Dappled, a blog for women and girls with vitiligo, that made me aware of the project and given I was planning to visit Amsterdam and it was it a short trip from the UK, I decided to reach out to Elizabeth.
I loved every second of the shoot, which took place in a loft apartment style studio in Harleem. Elisabeth was incredibly creative with her ideas and I loved that her vision was to create very soft, natural shots with nude tones that would project a very feminine outcome.
For me, these photos represented openness, femininity, elegance and the freedom to show my skin, allowing it to be captured in the most beautiful way. By far, the best set of photos in my collection since starting this journey…
WORLD VITILIGO DAY
One of my biggest highlights of the year was attending my first ever World Vitiligo Day conference. I’d been wanting to attend ever since the first conference in Washington in 2016 but because it was in the US, it wasn’t so easy to hop on a plane and take time out from work for 5 days! But this year, I decided I was going to make the trip regardless of where it was, and this year it was a very hot Houston in Texas!
Spread across three days, the conference was attended by key names associated with Vitiligo including Doctors, Dermatologists, Health Practitioners and most importantly, those with the condition. It was the first time I’d been to an event where the majority of the attendees had what I had. Looked like me! From the moment I arrived at the Marriott Hotel where it was held, I was overwhelmed, excited, emotional and thankful I was able to be there. Although it was an intense 3 days with a very full agenda of talks, seminars and networking, it was an incredible experience that taught me so much about who we are as a community and as an individual with the condition.
When I returned to the UK after the conference had finished, I honestly felt as though I’d been shown a completely new perspective, had learnt so much from others and it made me realise just how resilient we are. Definitely a life changing and unforgettable experience for 2019….
I BECAME A DOVE GIRL!
I end the year proudly being part of one of my biggest projects yet – an appearance in the latest Dove campaign that celebrates underarm beauty. I’ve seen so many great natural women representing vitiligo in global campaigns that it felt like a true blessing when my turn finally came and I auditioned and was subsequently offered a part a few weeks later. I was over the moon that I was representing women with vitiligo.
Whilst taking part did feel like I was exposing myself on a more global platform because of the size of Dove, it did feel like the most natural fit in terms of working with them, because it’s a brand I’ve been using for many years. The shoot day itself felt as though it lasted an hour because it was such a great experience being on set, having my makeup done, being styled and of course promoting vitiligo through photos and an interview. I’ve loved seeing the campaign pop up in magazines such as Hello and ES Magazine. I smile every time I see the image of myself looking back at me as I proudly show off my patchy underarms….
This year has taught me that anything is possible and that sometimes we have to be patient and wait for opportunities. Its been amazing see so many wonderful women with vitiligo appearing in global campaigns where their skin is celebrated – Gillette, CoverGirl and Primark are a few that come to mind. I’ve also learnt that caring less about what people think of you is one of the most freeing feelings ever! Towards the end of this year I started wearing skirts, less layers of fake tan and feeling completely at ease with people glancing over at my legs. Any thoughts of anxiousness have completely disappeared from my mind and it’s liberating. This year has come with new learning’s about myself and opportunities I feel blessed have come my way. I hope 2020 offers the same….
Lastly, I’d like to wish you the most amazing 2020. Thank you for your continued support, love on my social media and your messages, which are a constant reminder why I do what I do. I hope the New Year brings you many amazing things….