Living with vitiligo: so what if our skin looks a little different?

There is very little awareness about the condition, which affects one in 100 people worldwide

Growing up she was called names like zebra, cow or penguin.

Natalie Ambersley, 31, from Enfield grew up with vitiligo. Currently white patches cover about 75 per cent of Natalie’s face and body.

The condition affects one in 100 people worldwide. It's caused by the loss of skin pigment called melanin, which leads to the appearance of white patches on the skin.

She told London Live how people "often look at my hands and my face and then wonder why my hands are white and my face is mixed race."

“As much as I hate saying that I am different, I am a little bit different,” she said. “It affects me on a day-to-day basis. It’s something I see in the mirror everyday.”

“Growing up, there was the odd occasion when kids might be a little spiteful and call me names like zebra, cow or penguin – anything that looks black and white,” she added.

According to the Vitiligo Society, the cause can be genetic but stress, sunburn or a cut can also trigger the condition.

Supermodel Chantelle Brown-Young Natalie says there is very little awareness about vitiligo but the likes of supermodel Chantelle Brown-Young, who was recently chosen as a contestant for television show, America’s Next Top Model, has helped to highlight the condition.

“It’s only in recent years that people like her can do things like this,” she said. “What she’s doing is amazing for people like me who suffer from vitiligo. I’m quite shy about my vitiligo.

“I want people to recognise that even though we have vitiligo and we are a bit different, we can still be beautiful and it’s not all about what’s on the outside.

“There is still a long way to go before people can see past vitiligo but with people like Chantelle, it can be more recognised. I hope people will be able to see past the white patches that she has and see her for who she is.

“She’s someone that inspires me and makes me think that I am just a normal person even though I do look a little different to everybody else.”

In the past, Natalie used bleaching creams on her skin in an attempt to even out her white patches. Sometimes they burned her skin. She's stopped now, but skin bleaching is a lucrative market and is very common in the black and Asian communities. It’s the process of whitening the skin, using body creams and soaps, most of which contain dangerous and banned chemicals such as mercury and hydroquinone.

Natalie will be on London Live’s lunchtime show, Headline London, on Tuesday, August 5, at 12:30pm

Follow Vanessa on Twitter @VanessaBaffoe

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Cover Supervisor

    £75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

    Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

    Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

    £22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

    SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

    £1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam