At times, skin problems can be very irritating. The spots, itchy scalp and what not! I still remember when I was a kid and used to spend endless hours on a grassy pitch, I used to end with rashes all over my skin. Still, I do! However, I know how to treat them better.
My mom used to fret out with the thought that how come this has happened to her son. So, with this came the wait of spending endless hours in the doctor’s clinic to know what the hell was wrong with me.
From allopathic to homoeopathic, my mom tried everything to get a cure for an unknown allergy. Nevertheless, at the end of the process, I got to know that I was allergic to grass but my stubbornness to play was something that changed things in my favour and my mother had to accept the same.
Skin problems come with their share of problems, in terms of society. My rashes were the problem of the ‘mahulla’ I was living in because other mothers were a little skeptical that I could pass on this untransferable disease to their kids. Playing life was hard. Just like Aastha Shah.
However, her problems were a little or completely different from mine. It was the white spots that were a cause of the problem she faced. Yes, you get that right, it is Vitiligo.
In Indian society, people tend to look down on diseases like Vitiligo; and, the person suffering from it is mostly, isolated. The same happened to Aastha. It was in her second class when she first spotted the white spots. Her family first ignored these spots considering it as a part of the allergy. Nonetheless, when these spots kept growing that was the time where the real hustle began.
When the doctor examined it, he tagged it as a ‘skin allergy’ rather than telling her parents the truth. But, when her dad checked it online he found these symptoms in sync with Vitiligo. It was from there on, the sequences of meeting different skin doctors every day continued. Her routine changed, from school to doctor’s clinic and sometimes to the temple was all she was supposed to do. What not was said about her and she was tagged with all the curse words like ‘dalmatian dog’!
In such a time one could break and possibly lose all the spirit that one has but not Aastha. She gathered herself. It was her determination that accounted for herself. It was a breaking point! So one day in her class 8th, she went up to her dad and told him up front that she was ready to be looked at the way she is; no treatment, nothing and, this was the time her dad accepted and respected that!
He even encouraged Aastha to wear shorts and sleeveless clothes and encouraged her to be fearless. He told her that the day she will be successful, all this will not matter!
Aastha Shah’s story is a real inspiration and a reflection on society. In terms of society, we live in a society where the colour of our skin and the shape of our body is considered everything; which sometimes is the reason why we feel inferior.
We feel neglected and our confidence takes a beating. The questions of who will accept us in society keep crossing our minds. Howbeit, if we break the idea of attaching our self-worth to our appearance, we will not feel the need to hide our flaws. We will love ourselves the way we are, just the way she did.
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“I was in the 2nd grade, when the spots appeared. At first my parents thought it was because I fell down somewhere, but the spots kept growing. When we went to a doctor, he said I have a ‘skin allergy’ & gave me medication. But when my dad looked it up online, it was clear… I had Vitiligo. The next day he asked the doctor why he didn’t tell us—he said, ‘I know how parents react when I tell them their child has Vitiligo.’ My dad was furious. I was too young to understand anything. But growing up, life was hard. My routine was going to school, coming home & spending hours outside a doctors clinic. Different ones each day. Sometimes I’d even take an off from school to go to a temple—to be ‘cured’. It was frustrating. Even in school I’d be called names like ‘Dalmation dog’. But because I had Vitiligo since I was so little, I was resilient—no stares or name calling fazed me. What fazed me was this battle to ‘get better’. I tried everything from acupressure to putting turmeric on my body for nights on end. But nothing worked. In 8th grade, I reached my breaking point. So one day, I told my dad, ‘I’m ready to live looking like this—but I can’t tear myself apart to get better’. And he understood. Not just that, he even helped me live life to the fullest! I was afraid of wearing shorts, or sleeveless clothes. But he encouraged me to let go of my fear! He’d even tell me to remember that when I grow up & become successful—no one will care about how I look. That made me braver. Initially I had restrictions on what I could eat & how much time I could spend out in the sun. But I broke away from it all, I remember having coke for the first time—something I wasn’t allowed to. I enjoyed those small things so much! Now, the white spots have completely taken over my body. I still get stared at, still get questions on how I’m ‘so fair’. But it doesn’t bother me. I’m enjoying life like never before. I’m working at a bank, & am doing well. Vitiligo has been the most challenging experience—but it has taught me to break away from the idea of attaching my self-worth to my appearance. So now I don’t feel the need to hide my flaws, but I’m falling more in love with them…each day.”