Today, Meet Javeria Raheel, a 20 year old beautiful and fierce girl from Karachi.
Done with her Alevel for now, Javeria is a professional photographer and has a very cool youtube channel! (Instagram: @javeriaraheel_)
‘It started when I was 4. My mom saw a spot on my knees while she was changing my clothes. She was worried instantly and asked me if I had hurt myself but i hadn’t. She took me to a nearby clinic where we came to know that I have a rare condition called vitiligo. She and my dad were already familiar with the word. Her grandmother and aunt had this condition so did my Dad’s aunt. I was immediately taken to a hospital for proper treatment since it had already started spreading pretty quickly. I was given a medicine that I hated because it was hard for a 4-year old to swallow a tablet. My mother, a few weeks later, realized how that tablet which i was taking for this condition was a cortisone (with the worst side effects) that her own mother was taking for the past few months after undergoing brain tumor surgery. We instantly quit visiting that doctor. I don’t want to get in depth about how many doctors I have been to or how many ‘desi totkas‘ I have been suggested with because honestly I have lost count.
In school, when everyone wore frocks in grade 2/3, I wore tights because I hated my knees. When i did not wear tights, I’ll try to pull down my frock every second to cover them.
When we had tried getting multiple treatments done from all the good doctors here in Karachi, I was mentally and physically exhausted to continue with it anymore. I was in grade 5. I told my parents that if it doesn’t want to get better then maybe we should stop and how maybe one day I would get white completely since it was already spreading way too quickly.
Back in grade 6 I had a sports event and since i have always been into sports I stopped caring about my vitiligo and went for trials. Got selected and was made the vice-captain. On the day of the match, because I had already stopped caring, I did not wear sunscreen or sunblock. The sun damaged my skin that bad that my entire face got sunburned. It started to peel off. I had to use ice cubes for DAYS over it. I couldn’t touch my skin or use a face wash because it used to hurt. The vitiligo reversed and I ended up getting dark sports around my face. I never really cried but I was a bit upset that now that i have finally decided to accept myself, I have messed it up even more. I was stuck in between two things. Anyway, I stopped taking part in sports completely.
People would stare at me even more now. It was disgusting.
I hated how my hands looked and wouldn’t wear half sleeves in front of anyone even when it was summers and I was sweating.
Back in grade 9, I feel like I had finally begun to accept myself. I was mostly home and I guess that was the time I realized I am pretty good at a few things. I got into photography, singing, crafting and all the other art related stuff and realized I was pretty good at studies too.
By the time I was done with my o levels, I was already pretty popular at school for being multitalented despite having a condition that can easily shatter someone’s confidence. I started taking shoot bookings, participated in school events, won art/singing competitions and got 5As in my studies at the same time. Later got a modeling offer at a restaurant by someone, started earning money at a young age and recently started vlogging. I wouldn’t be able to realize what I have if kept crying over what i don’t.
Yes there have been days when i have cried myself to sleep over how I looked. Yes there have been times when I stopped going out completely because of how I would constantly get stared at by everyone and how they’ll try to take my pictures without my consent. But I think vitiligo makes me unique. It’s a part of my identity now and i have truly learned to appreciate myself for how I look.
Yes there will be a day when I’ll break down but it doesn’t happen that oftenanymore. When I look at myself in the mirror, I genuinely feel pretty. I do. I’m different and beautiful. I’ve never let this come in between anything that i have wanted to achieve in life. I won’t, EVER.
In my entire life, i have been called ugly, a cow (not that I mind being called a cow I mean they are cute hehe) and i have been told that i don’t deserve something good because of how my face is so ‘yuck’.
I know people probably think that I don’t talk about this as often as I should probably because I am pretending that it’s not there when in actual it doesn’t even make a difference to me anymore.
The only thing I hate is pity or sympathy (also constantly getting stared at) but I have genuinely worked really hard to not give someone a reason to pity me in anyway. Who cares if i have white patches all over my skin? I am confident and talented. I am different and unique in my own way. And I am happy and blessed with so much more that i don’t even have the time to cry over something that OTHERS think I don’t have.
To everyone out there, please if you see someone with any sort of condition, STOP staring at them. STOP giving your unsolicited opinions. STOP taking their pictures. STOP. Just STOP and let them breathe. Give them space. They have already been through enough.
And to the ones suffering, you are amazing for being so strong. We all are. If God has taken something away from you, i am sure he has given you a lot of good things that other people don’t have. I know sometimes it’s hard to love yourself but things get better when you genuinely work towards accepting yourself. Once YOU have accepted yourself, what everyone else says won’t affect you in anyway. Trust me.
Javeria you’re no less than any! Trust us when we say, we all are fighting different battles. Gotta stay strong, (like you already are)!
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