Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from? What do you do for a living, and what are your hobbies and interest?
Hello. My name is Ilidio Junior. I’m African, from Mozambique to be precise. I am 19 years old and a proud wearer of vitiligo. In my spare time, I do motivational speaking. My talks are usually around social exclusion based on physical appearance. I see myself as an advocate and ambassador for vitiligo. I’m passionate about helping others living with this condition because I know how difficult it can be when socially ostracized.
2. What is vitiligo?
Vitiligo (pronounced “vit-il-eye-go”) is a skin condition in which a loss of pigment causes the skin to appear white (depigmentation).
3. How long have you had vitiligo and how has it affected your life?
I have had it all my life. I was born with it whereas most other people with vitiligo show signs after birth. My skin condition has had a negative impact on my life. However, over time, I’ve turned those experiences into positive ones. I’ve learnt to embrace who I am and I do so with pride.
4. How has your journey to self-acceptance been?
I used to get into fights with people who insult me. But today, I try to educate people about vitiligo, because with knowledge, people are less likely to see it as a disease and simply as a different kind of skin. I believe God had a purpose for me when he made me this way. That took some time for me to understand, but now, I see myself as a source of inspiration for other young people in Mozambique. I now see God’s purpose for my life.
5. Do you feel like you stand out in a good or bad way?
Yes! I am the centre of attention when I am on these streets. I usually look at it in two ways — they either think I’m weird or cool. Either way, with my level of self-acceptance, I see myself as a regular human being, just living as everyone else is.
6. What advice would you give to other people who have Vitiligo and are afraid of what people might think of them?
You know what, I think people need to learn to live with individual differences. My vitiligo does not make me different to any other human being. In fact, I know it makes me special. My message to others with vitiligo is to remember that God made you and He makes no mistakes. He also does not give you anything He has not prepared you for.
7. Have you always been interested in fashion and modeling?
I think fashion lives inside everyone, but sometimes, people just need someone to call attention to it. For me, I have always been interested in fashion and have always thought that my style was very different than everyone else’s.