There is no perfect guide on how you can deal with Vitiligo, but you can still achieve your dreams with it. Your vitiligo will not stop you from having fun, getting a job, or falling in love. Vitiligo is one part of your life, it shouldn’t be your only focus,” says Riya Agrawal, a content creator who owns her vitiligo. She has proven to be an inspiration to many with the way she embraces her vitiligo.

For World Vitiligo Day, Riya worked on a 3-part short film titled “Thick Skin.” With this film, she explores a flip narrative, challenging the common belief that society is the main source of judgment for those with vitiligo. Instead, it delves into the internal struggles and the impact of opinions from close ones, like family and friends. Often, the real battle is to feel confident in one’s skin.

Having A “Thick Skin”

Riya’s short film is a heartfelt attempt to spread a message of acceptance, self-love, and understanding. The first episode, “Reflection” showcases the reality behind the camera. It depicts what it’s like to deal with those doubtful whispers and upfront judgements. “Beneath The Surface” is the second episode that explores the backhanded negativity disguised as compliments at the hands of your close ones.

The final episode titled “Seeing Clearly” shows Riya standing at the crossroads of vulnerability and strength. It takes us back in time to her childhood struggles but also showcases how she’s overcome all those doubts and is ready to face them head-on. This film on vitiligo is not just inspirational to those who relate to it but is also a testament to Riya’s skills as a content creator and producer!

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On the occasion of World Vitiligo Day, we had a heart-to-heart with Riya Agrawal on her beautiful film, dealing with vitiligo growing up and learning to be confident in her skin. Read on:

What made you want to create this film?

For a long time, I have been sharing my story through content reflecting my personal experiences. I was very very young when the spots started appearing, but because I had seen it in my family, I thought it was pretty common, and it did not affect my outlook in life growing up. It was only when I started to go out that I saw a different version of the world; that’s when validation and acceptance started creeping in. And even my story of starting content creation came from a place of just finding a way of expressing myself.

Through these 4 years of creating content focused on skin positivity and lifestyle, I realized that I wanted to step into a more powerful role. I wanted to take control of the narrative because, in a larger context, vitiligo and the people who live with it have very varied experiences. So, finding a commonplace of acceptance and developing a thick skin against the insecurities and the judgment that we are unfortunately subjected to at first glance felt necessary.

This is so much more than just a skin condition; it can be overwhelming if you don’t have the right support system. The main idea of creating this film is to share the idea that acceptance begins with yourself and that it creates a ripple effect in your life. To take a peek behind the curtain of someone’s life and be empathetic towards what really goes on. This is my first foray into storytelling or any fictional project of any kind. I hope people like this movie, and I have greater plans to take this storytelling journey forward.

Riya Agrawal world vitiligo day content creator short film thick skin awareness

What message do you wish to convey through “Thick Skin” to those who have Vitiligo and to people in general?

The main purpose is to create something that resonates with everyone. All of us feel insecure, and we have had days where we have doubted ourselves. That happens more frequently with people who have vitiligo. We have to look at ourselves through so many lenses that it can be easy to lose perspective.

The bottom line is to encourage people to accept themselves as they are. For friends and family – to be cautious about making comments casually here and there. For people in general – to understand it’s not always society who is to blame. It all starts from home. Eventually, after the chaos of everything settles, you have to walk out of the shadows and into the light and take a stand for yourself.

How did you deal with people’s judgements and learn to be this confident in life?

This is the most asked question on my Instagram. I don’t know a perfect answer for this because it’s years of work, but I believe what’s worked for me is that I’ve always cancelled out the noise and focused on the good. I’ve learned skills and participated in activities that make me confident as a person. I’ve had a strong foundation of family and friends who have never let people’s judgments affect me.

How has your relationship with your skin been since childhood to now?

My skin is ever-evolving. As a child, I didn’t quite register the changes happening to it. There was a time when I was more brown, but then there was also a time when I was completely white, and it went on. I still don’t know what’s next for my skin because it’s unpredictable. But one thing I can say is, if you start to love the unpredictable, there’s nothing more beautiful than that.

Who proved to be an inspiration for you growing up?

I have always been inspired by Winnie Harlow. I admire her achievements and how confidently she carries herself. Meeting her someday is a dream of mine. Another person who deeply inspires me is my mom. She also has vitiligo and has always encouraged me to wear whatever I like. She is the strongest person I know, and if I could embody even 1% of her strength, I would consider that a great achievement.

What changes would you like to see in society and people’s mindsets taking Vitiligo?

I would like to see more representation of vitiligo in the media because normalizing the condition is very important. Every year, a World Vitiligo Day conference takes place in different parts of the world. This year, it’s happening in Indianapolis, IN. I would love to see such events happening in India too, where people can be educated about vitiligo. Due to the lack of awareness, it will still take time for people to consider vitiligo as a condition and not a disease. However, we’re making progress, and hopefully, one day, it will all work out.

Beyond this special film, how do you aim to create awareness and change for Vitiligo?

Beyond this special film, I’m active on Instagram, where I engage daily with my audience about vitiligo. Additionally, I envision hosting a wellness retreat where individuals not only with vitiligo but also with other insecurities can come together, find their safe space, and contribute to making a difference. While online information is abundant, I am passionate about extending awareness efforts beyond digital platforms.

What’s next for Riya in terms of content?

My next move in content creation is to move beyond this short film and focus on longer storytelling formats. I want to create sketches and explore acting, diving into playing fictional roles. While I’ll still talk about vitiligo on Instagram, I also want to use my platform for broader storytelling. I find the art of sharing messages through stories beautiful and meaningful, and I’m eager to explore it further.

Riya Agrawal truly embodies the definition of an influencer. She doesn’t just preach, she walks the talk. From creating engaging content to educating her audience about vitiligo, Riya uses her platform in the best way possible. We can’t wait to see more of her beautiful content and ideas!