- Primary school years were the hardest for her.
- She was bullied by her peers to the point of attempting to commit suicide.
- Some of her friends advised her to wear a veil to hide her patches. It was easy to pick on her due to her low self-esteem with some of her school mates calling her names such as madoadoa, combat and so on.
They say there’s a kind of beauty in imperfection. For women like 28-year-old Julie Nasuju, the journey to find beauty in her imperfections has been nothing short of heartbreaking.
Nasuju was diagnosed with vitiligo at two years old.
The condition manifested itself as a spot in her genital area when she was one and a half years old. Her mother’s initial reaction was to chase away several house helps thinking that they left her diaper on for too long.
When the spot wouldn’t go away, it is then that her visits to several hospitals began until she was diagnosed with vitiligo. Vitligo is a skin condition that affects the pigmentation of the skin.
“I was given medication which included a cream that I was supposed to apply daily. In addition to this, I was also supposed to go in for one hour radiation sessions” she says. She attended the radiation sessions for nine years before the side effects took a toll on her and she had to stop. The doctors said the UV light under which she was being placed would eventually affect her eye. In addition to constant headaches she got after the sessions, it was also too costly for her mother.
BULLIED IN PRIMARY SCHOOL
Primary school years were the hardest for her. She was bullied by her peers to the point of attempting to commit suicide. Some of her friends advised her to wear a veil to hide her patches. It was easy to pick on her due to her low self-esteem with some of her school mates calling her names such as ‘madoadoa’,’combat’ and so on. Others pulled pranks on her like putting pins on her seat and pouring porridge in her desk just to disorient her. Due to this, she mostly kept to herself and found it hard to socialise. Things would not get any easier in high school when she joined Ndumberi Girls High school. But she devised a plan to deal with bullies.
“I told them the condition was contagious, so I wasn’t ‘monolised’ in form one and neither was my stuff stolen,” she laughs.
The 28-year-old who is now a mother of three has patterned skin around her eyes, down her nose area and around her mouth, but she couldn’t more confident.
“I’m different with every year. I have a different patch in a different part of the body every time. That’s the beauty of this condition,” she says.
After high school Nasuju, was not able to attend college due to financial constraints. Finding a job also proved difficult. .She was turned away by most employers due to her appearance with some saying she might scare off the customers.
She immersed herself into arts and started dancing. She found that the entertainment and events front was more accommodating than any other field.
Nasuju, who is now a DJ and a model, uses these platforms to sensitise others about the condition.
Several myths surround the condition. The biggest misconception according to Nasuju is that the condition is contagious. The condition is also confused with albinism. When she had her first child, her boyfriend was pressurised by his parents to walk out on her .They wanted him to find another girl to marry who was “normal”.
“His parents rejected me, they said I was not good enough for their son” she remembers.MORE PRONE TO SUNBURNS
Although the condition does not cause any discomfort to the skin, people with vitiligo are more prone to sunburns and are at a higher risk of getting skin cancer if exposed for too long to the sun.