Mrunmayee spent most of her childhood hiding her body, afraid to go outside and face people. She developed vitiligo when she was in her 3rd grade, a condition that causes white patches all over your skin. Anyone, regardless of skin type or age, can develop vitiligo on any part of their body, including the hair, eyes, and mouth. Her parents thought of consulting a doctor since they started with the treatment. Years had gone by only to find out that the ongoing treatment was not working.
“I started wearing full sleeves and covered all the parts of my body,” Mrunmayee tells Brown. “It started growing on my face, which made me feel insecure about myself.” She started concealing her patches with heaps of makeup that took at least an hour, “I used to hide them with bandages so that no one questions me again.”
But despite all the efforts, ‘hate comments’ kept coming in – “Some of them called me a cow, some didn’t want to stand close to me because they thought they would get the same patch on their skin”. The bullies don’t stop, do they? Only if they knew that the hate comments were igniting Mrunmayee for the greater good!
Now — a few years later — Mrunmayee is 22, and she feels more comfortable in her skin than ever before. She now understands the true meaning of “accepting your skin” as it is. Mrunmayee credits a lot of her confidence to her parents and cousins – “My mom, dad and cousins were my constant motivation who never left a chance to make me realise how beautiful I am. The support always kept me going.”
Thanks to Instagram, she constantly uploads selfies celebrating her flaws and empowering her followers. “I finally took the step of breaking all the stereotypes by uploading a post on Instagram sharing my vitiligo journey,” Vanmali, explains. “I was scared to put myself out in the world; fear of judgement was acting like a huge barrier.” But Mrunmayee decided to take a risk. For the first time, she posted a picture showing off her vitiligo, and braced herself for the negative comments. “A sunflower soul with rock and roll eyes, curious thoughts and a heart filled with surprises,” she wrote in her caption.
“If you are confident in your own skin and body, only then you can help others by motivating and inspiring them’’, Mrunmayee tells Brown. Accept yourself and live with your flaws because that makes you unique. “Try and be someone’s role model.”
The response she got on her post was immense. “The constant thought about how people would react to the post was making me nervous, but who knew that it would end up to be the happiest day of my life.” Her followers left her positive comments and messages. “I got this sudden boost and feeling of confidence, ” she says. “I couldn’t believe that something I wasn’t sure about would actually boost my confidence right to the top.”
Mrunmayee always tries to convey messages of acceptance through each Instagram post she shares.
A Message to the World!
When asked what message she would like to give young teenagers with vitiligo, she says, “The change starts with you! Be the change you want to see. Be confident in your own skin, love yourself first and stop thinking about what other people think about you and most importantly, educate yourself .”
Showing her true self in images, she used the social media platform to spread awareness about the condition, paving the way to her first modelling assignment with a fusion brand. “My first project was unexpected because I was never into modelling but was offered this amazing opportunity from the brand named ‘Monk & Mei‘. It’s a fusion brand. Since it was my first assignment, I was a bit nervous, but the team was so comfortable to work with; I had to give it a shot.”
This was just the beginning for Mrunmayee!
She recently featured in Grazia Magazine‘s campaign #ShowUs of what ‘Real Beauty‘ looks like. Overwhelmed with the opportunity and the thought of inspiring a massive amount of audience brought a sense of pride within her.
“I stepped out of my comfort zone for this opportunity because it was a huge platform, and campaigns like these provide a lot of awareness. Also, people are often uncomfortable in discussing sensitive topics like vitiligo, whereas this should be considered normal. A campaign of this magnitude can help many get inspired and build their confidence.”
In the end you learn and grow!
The Subtle Art of Beauty
Just when we couldn’t get enough of Mrunmayee, we asked her to tell us her definition of beauty. “We all are like different shades of flowers.” She says, “Just like every flower has its exceptional beauty, colour, fragrance and aura. They show us that beauty means you can be different yet beautiful at the same time!“
Mrunmayee’s story is proof that our differences are beautiful, but the biggest challenge is to get past what makes you different and celebrate what makes you the same.