Woman uses social media to bring awareness to vitiligo
Jolene Dyer is using her social media platform to help bring awareness to vitiligo, a condition which causes loss of skin colour, leaving white patches in any area on the body.
Dyer, who’s the projects and business development manager at Professional Eye Care, frequently uploads videos to its Facebook page, where she creatively engages patients by translating the doctors’ instructions to patois.
She goes by the name Patwah Lady, and these videos have got more than 16,000 views.
She is hoping that the response from the videos will help motivate others to embrace themselves.
“I believe that through that (the videos), somebody, a child or adult, someone with vitiligo, just might see them and feel it’s OK to come out and be themselves, and stop putting make-up on,” she said.
She also anticipates that her social media popularity will also change how people view persons with vitiligo.
“Maybe people seeing it, it can bring awareness where people will see me and want to figure out what’s going on with my skin, and even encourage them to go do some research on it. And to realise that if I’m there with so many people, then obviously it’s not catching,” she said
Dyer was diagnosed with vitiligo at age 12 and said growing up with the condition was difficult, as she was the only one in her family and community with the condition.
“I saw a small dot at the side of my left eye. I thought it was mango stain, because it was summer and mango season, until it started to spread on my lips, fingertips, and elbows,” she said. “As a pre-teen, it was rough. It was a big eye opener, because you didn’t know what it was, or how it worked. It resulted in me retaliating, by getting into fights from grade seven to eight.”
The 34-year-old mother told THE STAR that she would cry because of her condition and asked God to heal her because she was tired of the stares.
“The worst part is when I had to go home, and when you’re at the bus stop, and everyone, adult, children, would be staring and laughing and being stupid with their comments. That was the hard part,” she said. But in grade nine, she embarked on a spiritual journey that changed how she saw herself.
“I accepted Christ as my Lord and Saviour and I got to understand that I was wonderfully made in him, and it brought a new light on me,” she said.
Dyer said that there is a general ignorance in society about vitiligo, and she is determined to change that.
“It look very different to a person who don’t know what it is. It may look likes burns to some, to some it looks like a very scary ordeal, especially for children. Because I am outspoken, I will now use this gift to teach people about vitiligo,” she said.