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Young achiever: my journey of acceptance

Words of inspiration: Julia Cox with her book, which shows how she dealt with vitiligo at different ages. She is now 15(Photograph by Akil Simmons)

A Somersfield Academy student hopes to inspire people with vitiligo, after penning a book on her own experiences with the skin condition.

Julia Cox, 15, wrote and illustrated I’m Not Unusual, I’m Just Unique for her school personal project.

“It’s about my journey of accepting vitiligo, and the chapters show how I dealt with it at different ages,” the St George’s teenager said.

“I was shy when I was younger. I hated having it and I hated being stared at, but as I got older I came to terms with it and thought of it as kind of cool.”

Vitiligo is a condition in which areas of skin loses their pigmentation, and its cause is unknown.

Julia was encouraged to write her book by a friend’s 10-year-old brother, who also has vitiligo.

“Listening to his story was truly inspiring,” she said. “He told me that everyone has their differences and that was his. That definitely helped me with my own acceptance.”

Julia’s self-confidence also improved upon finding out about Winnie Harlow, a 21-year-old with vitiligo who competed on America’s Next Top Model in 2014, and has since amassed 1.1 million Instagram followers and modelled for brands including Desigual and Diesel.

Although Winnie has spoken of her struggles with bullying throughout her youth, Julia said her peers had “never really been judgemental”.

“My classmates were really understanding and never had a problem with it, which helped me a lot,” she said.

And while Julia tried various medical avenues to treat her vitiligo, which is most prominent around her joints, she found that the condition has receded naturally with age.

After returning from a school trip to Ecuador last week, where she helped to build accommodation for a health clinic, Julia is now preparing to begin her studies at Bermuda High School.

Once she graduates, the teenager is contemplating university on England’s south coast and then a career possibly involving art or animals.

As for I’m Not Unusual, I’m Just Unique, Julia plans to publish 100 copies of the book to distribute around schools in Bermuda, promoting both awareness and self-acceptance.

“Not many people know a lot about vitiligo,” she said, “and maybe it will help people with the condition to make more sense of it.”

For more information about the book, e-mail lcox@livenet.bm