There’s a global pandemic outside and another pandemic within.
The striking contrast of leaves spotted against the sky creates a sense of beauty, peace & harmony.
When the skin borrows the same pattern it’s viewed through an entirely different lens.
Can we correct the lens?
Many societies place a profound significance on the appearance of one’s skin. This fuels pressure to conform to often unreachable standards of physical appearance. Being a dermatologist it’s hard not to speak up.
Especially in the Indian subcontinent, medical professionals are often valued in the society for their opinions even beyond their core subject. With power to influence comes social responsibility.
(Vitiligo is skin condition characterized by patches of the skin losing their pigment.) Outside medically managing vitiligo, the dermatologist is often seen breaking stereotypes by counselling and comforting the entire family contributing towards psychological comfort and social harmony.
At times it seems that the entire onus of ‘self acceptance’ is on the shoulders of the person with vitiligo. Who needs the counseling more- the patient or the society?
A phrase from a favorite song of mine by Alessia Cara is what I feel like telling my patients:
You don’t know you’re beautiful
Just the way you are.
You don’t have to change a thing
The world could change it’s heart.
Many would say that isn’t possible but I’ve seen it happen personally! When before her marriage my grandmother learnt that grandfather had widespread vitiligo, she went ahead and willingly married him; she saw Him. Most cases are on the other side of the spectrum though. Handling numerous such cases (and by extension families) as a dermatologist, observing my colleagues’ & mentors’ vast experience and also doing my thesis on the subject has made me realize how much anguish is associated with this condition.
Treating the condition may have it’s own challenges, but treating the stigma is a totally different ball game.
© Dr. Kanya Rani Vashisht Life is Beautiful 2020