Cruel “you look like a cow” taunts left beautiful woman with vitiligo with no confidence – now she’s proud of her skin
A beautiful woman with vitiligo who suffered from years of cruel taunts is now embracing her skin.
Natalie Ambersley, 33, from Ilford, Essex, has spent the last three decades covering up her body after cruel bullies left her confidence at rock bottom.
Natalie developed vitiligo when she was just two – which caused pale white patches to develop on her dark skin, the same condition that Michael Jackson is believed to have suffered from.
But after spending a year undergoing phototherapy treatment in a tanning booth Natalie’s pigmentation has been reduced from 80 to just 30 per cent.
Now the stunning brunette is raising awareness to show diversity is beautiful after defying her tormentors by learning to love her skin.
Natalie, a personal assistant, said: “For as long as I can remember people would stare at me, snigger under their breath or make remarks about how my patchy skin made me look like a cow.
“I became a bit of a recluse and spent too many years wishing I could fade into the background and be known as Natalie instead of ‘Natalie with vitiligo’.
“At my lowest points I couldn’t see a way out and there were times when I thought I would be better off not being around.
“Instead of enjoying beach holidays and nights out in dresses like everyone else my age, I would cover myself from head to toe as I felt ashamed of my body and how I looked.
“Vitiligo completely took over my life and it caused me to lash out and blame the people I love the most when they were the most supportive.
“I was over the moon with the phototherapy treatment. Vitiligo covered 80 per cent of my body but after spending a year using the UVB tanning booths my patches were reduced to just 30 per cent.
“I never thought I’d ever consider modelling but I have more confidence than ever before.
“I’m currently looking into joining a model agency which concentrates on beautiful people with a difference.
“I’m finally embracing who I am and I couldn’t be happier.”
Natalie wasn’t born with vitiligo but at the age of two, despite no family history, she was diagnosed with the condition which mainly affects her face, legs, arms and hands.
Over the years Natalie taught herself clever make-up and fake tan camouflage techniques to hide her patchy skin.
Natalie said: “Vitiligo has pretty much always affected most parts of my body other than my torso.
“It’s very unpredictable and the shapes and sizes of the patches can change, especially when I’m under stress.
“I’ve always been a very shy person which made dating difficult, I’d always try and hide my hands and felt anxious as I didn’t know whether to
“I would spend hours applying copious amounts of makeup and fake tan to try and hide who I was.
“But now I know if people judge me by my skin on first impressions then they aren’t worth my time anyway.”
After receiving treatment for vitiligo for 10 years when she was a child, Natalie gave up hope when her skin didn’t show any sign of changing.
But last year she finally decided to try a new treatment known as Narrowband UVB phototherapy after hearing countless success stories.
For a year Natalie attended two weekly appointments at Guy’s and St Thomas’s Hospital where she would spend up to four minutes in a tanning
booth which emitted high doses of UVB light.
Natalie said: “Friends and family told me not to bother with the treatment as I was perfect as I was, but I wanted to give it a try after all these years.
“The treatment was pretty intense so I had to use sun block on sensitive areas on my body like my lips and elbows to prevent them from burning.
“I couldn’t believe the outcome after a year, it’s incredible.
“I know my vitiligo hasn’t gone completely but I’m pleased, I don’t think I’d ever want it to as it’s made me who I am today and I’m proud of the
“In today’s society we are bombarded with images of the ideal body and how people should look but everyone’s beautiful in their own way.
“My advice to anyone who’s lacking self-esteem is to learn to be happy with yourself, focus on you and if someone puts you down it’s often because
they’re insecure themselves.
“If I could talk to the same bullies now I would laugh at them and walk away, nothing they could say would affect me, I’m better than that.”
Dr Anjali Mahto a Consultant Dermatologist and British Skin Foundation spokesperson said: “Vitiligo is common condition, affecting around one per cent of the world’s population, in which areas of the skin lose their normal pigment and become white.
“As in Natalie’s case, vitiligo can often lead to a loss in confidence and low self-esteem and in some cases even depression.
For more information visit: www.britishskinfoundation.org.uk
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