On World Vitiligo Day, UK-based fitness model and entrepreneur Ninu Galot talks about living with the condition
Vitiligo is a skin condition where pale white patches appear on the skin, due to loss of melanin. People with this condition face a lot of stigma across the globe and this leads to their lack of confidence and self-esteem. However, UK-based Ninu Galot, an entrepreneur and a fitness model, who has had this skin condition for 14 years is now raising awareness about it through various platforms and the Ninu Galot Foundation. In this interview, she shares more about the condition, and why she wants to inspire other people like her to live a regular life.
What motivated you to overcome the complex and embrace your body and beauty?
I decided I had to change my mindset otherwise vitiligo would taken over my life. I turned to health and fitness to make me physically and mentally stronger. I am a strong believer of self-love and believe that happiness is attained when you start accepting yourself for who you are. I want to be remembered for having brought about a change in the society and walking down the road less travelled, by addressing the cause. I am happy and smiling as I've set myself free by being open about it. I've learnt to accept my flaws and realised it's my trademark, a fashion statement that can't be bought in Harrods. It is not about blending in, but standing out!
How challenging was it to come to terms with the condition and accept yourself for what you are?
The battle was more within myself as I found it hard to accept the vitiligo. It wasn’t something I could control. It was hard when people asked me what it was. I used to be embarrassed. It all started when I was 11 years old and I developed my first patch of vitiligo behind my neck. This patch remained there through my school and university days. Fortunately, since it was behind my neck and I had a bob cut, no one saw it. It was when I left university that I had a sudden outburst of vitiligo.
Why did you decide to take up fitness?
I signed up for a fitness competition in London for fun and it was the best thing I ever did. When I was on stage, I embraced my vitiligo and showed it off. I finally felt free and the vitiligo no longer had any hold over me. It was then that I decided to speak about my challenges with vitiligo and to help others.
How is Vitiligo perceived in India compared to the West?
Stigma is more common among Asian communities. When I spoke about vitiligo in the media, in India about a year back, I received immense love. People who had been suffering with vitiligo loved that finally somebody was speaking about it. Many people messaged me on Instagram and told me about the stigma attached to Vitiligo in India. I decided to then raise awareness in India and to date have done two events. People in India still believe it’s contagious, they don’t want to marry someone with it or won’t want to have kids as they don’t want their children to have it. Society treats people with it as outcasts.
What is your message on World Vitiligo Day?
Whatever makes you stand out makes you unique.
Vitiligo can occur because of stress.From my experience and that of countless others, I believe we must do something help people who are suffering in silence.