Photography by Baveesha Photography and Marlene Photography
Story by Baveesha Naran
Last year October when LOVEauthentic was still just an idea. I went to Durban to meet up with the beautiful Aunt Preshiela. Preshiela Pillay is so empowering, such a beautiful, confident, warm and loving woman. It was such a delightful experience as she and her family were so warm and loving. For a perfect stranger(myself), they prepared the heartiest meal ever. I enjoyed every minute of that amazing spread. Oh how I love it when Durban mums cook. They’re all so brilliant. I could not believe how amazing these people were. We sat and chatted, she told me all about her journey, what it was like growing up with vitiligo, she shared stories from the past, some were hilarious and others were so intense. She also advised me on what products to use for my skin and how to care for my skin in the heat. She tried and tested many products, but Vichy worked best for her. Preshiela Pillay also had Vitiligo her entire life. Before she got married her vitiligo was also patchy and she used to hide it. But when it started appearing on your face and hands, there was nothing more she could do. She could not start covering her hands and blocking her face, she had to be exposed. She told a funny story of how in the Apartheid era, her husband would always be questioned and interrogated by police as they mistook her for a white woman. She also talked about how if she put on her white accent, people would not know any different. It was so cute to hear these stories.
I asked her what advice she would give to people out there:
They should not be ashamed of their Vitiligo because they didn’t put it onto themselves. It’s God’s creation. It doesn’t harm anybody else. People should not feel embarrassed because of it. It is not contagious and it’s not a disease. It’s just a skin condition. This is who we are and we should not feel embarrassed about living with Vitiligo.
Her final advice was that you should always walk with your head up high. Don’t let anyone put you down, hurt you and make you cry. If you’re struggling at any point tell yourself, that you will be ok one day, and you’ll see you will be. Just be strong, you are not alone.
When asked who has been her biggest strength, she advised that she herself was her biggest strength; her strong character and happy personality always helped her stay positive.
Thank you Aunt Preshiela for meeting with me, you’re so so amazing. Love you loads, you’re a true inspiration. Thanks for joining our campaign. We totally appreciate it. LOVEauthentic LOVES you.
Thanks for being here. Thanks for supporting our initiatives.