When Henna Meets Vitiligo
Mehndi or Henna in most cultures around the world signifies happiness, joy and auspiciousness in life. It can be applied on the hands using various abstract and floral designs or is usually applied on the head to give it a orangish brown colour. Usually worn by the bride, it is a symbolic representation of a long lasting matrimony and everlasting love between the bride and the groom.
Apart from that, Mehndi leaves are completely natural so have lots of medicinal advantages too. They provide you a cooling effect on the body, detoxifies the skin, protects the skin and reduces inflammation. It has also shown to reduce stress, protect from viral skin to skin diseases, reduce sleep issues and control cholesterol. All in all, this dye is a wonder drug.
As a girl, I have always been fascinated with Mehndi. My Mother had been applying it on her head as a hair colour and for a healthy hair care. She never allowed me tattoos, so they always acted as a proxy. I took every opportunity to apply it; be it Diwali, Karva Chauth, and even my birthdays. I loved how the smell used to tingle my nostrils, how everyone used to comment whenever they saw my hands and how I used to annoy my little brother by touching him because he refused to even come close to it. It was a fact that Mehndi always bore sheer fascination and absolute enchantment for me.
As I have shared with all of you earlier, I have had Vitiligo for the past 11 years. I used to apply Mehndi on my hands irrespective of where my spots were. However, when I talked to other people with Vitiligo, they did not have any problem in telling me openly that they used Mehndi to hide their spots during festive occasions.This cast a very deep impression on me.
When I searched more about it, I realized there were people who used various pigments to hide their patches. Contouring material, applying Haldi ( Turmeric), make up, Henna, various layers of foundation and what not!
It came as a huge surprise to me, considering I was an advocate for Vitiligo and yet there were people who hid it from the entire world. Imagine how much the cosmetics must be affecting their skin health from years of using these chemicals on their body everyday so that they do not receive stares from people. It truly saddened me and I decided I had to do something about it.
World Vitiligo Day is celebrated all around the world on 25th of June. It first came into effect in 2011 to create extensive awareness on vitiligo and is a day dedicated to all living with vitiligo globally. The Vitiligo Awareness colour is purple. There were a few events organized globally on the same day, but as I could not attend, I decided to celebrate it in my home country, India, in my own way.
When I searched for Mehndi Vitiligo, here are some very, um, not so surprising results I found.
Instead of using Mehndi to beautify Vitiligo, I saw it was being used to cure using various Ayurvedic and Natural Home remedies. Henna is the encapsulation of love and endearment and it was used to hide something which should be embraced. I did not subscribe to this view at all and sought to use Henna in a completely original way.I talked to two men who were Mehndi artists and asked them to make the designs on my hands and feet in such a way that beautifies my spots, instead of hiding them. I used my dual skin tone as a canvas to make these patterns on my skin. I specifically told them to draw around my spots and not on them.
The contrast between the whiteness of my spots and the jet black Mehndi was coming out beautifully.
It was an extremely fun process as they found different ways to create the patterns and motifs around my spots. Also, I had never applied Mehndi on my feet so, well, that was something!
After this beautiful outcome, I resolved to apply Mehndi in this fashion for every occasion I could find. This experience was truly enthralling.
Another thing I decided to come up with is expression of beauty through emotional power and artistic imagination. To pay a tribute to Vitilogers all around the globe, I decided to be a Spotted Vitiloger. I sometimes wished my patches could be whole circles, not scattered here and there randomly, so I painted white spots on my face and neck. I wanted to bring forward how Black and White photography can look even more gorgeous with someone with Vitligo, as the spots get highlighted. Instead of being hidden, I made it more pronounced. I posted about this on my Instagram and also conducted Lives and talked to people with Vitiligo all around the globe.
“Our skin is a natural canvas. Our canvases have different colors. Some have spots and patches. Some are black or white. These aren’t imperfections in the canvas, these are templates for your masterpiece of life” . Entire article for World Vitiligo Day up on my blog @embracinglifeblog soon! . 📸: My MAA MUA: @kartiki.bhatnagar . . . #viitligo #vitiligomodel #worldvitiligoday #worldvitiligoday2018 #spotted #viti #vitiligomakeup #vitiligobeauty #embracinglifeblog #love #courage #skin #blackandwhite #vitiligonation #skincare
When a baby is born into the world, his body is like a clean slate, free from everything. As one grows up, their body is filled up with the stories from their life. Stretch marks, scars, spots, broken nails, frail skin, pimples, do they not tell us our life story to others?
Last time, my body was a story waiting to be told. This time, the world knows my story.
My journey in these two years has been absolutely phenomenal and downright unrealistic for me. I realized there are going to be hundred different ways in which people will try to make you not love yourself. They ask you to rely on them to make you feel worth it. But I found out you are the best person when it comes to loving oneself. And what better way than to start seeing your own body as beautiful? This is what being born with Vitiligo taught me. Once I love myself, other people will love me too. And yes, they did. 🙂