BY NICOLAS FERNANDES
A mum is afraid to leave the house due to her insecurities about Vitiligo that has caused her to lose 90 percent of her skin pigment.
Lasharus Leggett, 42, of Dallas, Texas, USA, always worries about getting stares from strangers due to her disease that has caused discolouration on nearly every part of her skin.
The mother-of-four stays at home as much as possible, avoids introducing herself to her sons’ friends and teachers and covers herself in makeup whenever she goes out.
One of her favourite hobbies is going for walks with her husband Gregory Capers, 57, something they do several times a week.
While doing laps at the local park, she always gets nervous when seeing others walking who might notice the condition that affects one percent of people worldwide.
She even goes as far as wearing clothes that cover her arms and legs during the summer months.
While covering up and applying excess makeup makes it less obvious, the loss of pigment on her hands is always visible.
Lasharus, a medical coordinator, said: “It holds you back from going out. I basically have to alienate myself from the outside world.
“I don’t want my sons’ friends to be asking, ‘what’s wrong with your mom?’
“When I’m walking with my husband, I get worried that the other walkers are going to stop and stare.
“As soon as I go outside, I tell myself that someone is probably going to look at me.
“I usually don’t wear shorts or skirts because I don’t want people to see my skin.
“It’s much easier to wear warmer clothes and not have to explain myself to people.”
One particular thing that bothers her is the long stares from strangers in public.
She believes that most people are just curious about why her skin is discoloured, but often gets confused about why no one has ever asked her a question about it.
Lasharus said: “I don’t have a problem with people looking. It’s the long stares that make me uncomfortable.
“No one has ever, ever said anything to me about it. They just look.
While it is difficult for her to go out in public, the medical coordinator has come a long way in the past nine years that she has had the condition.
Lasharus has made a lot of progress with accepting it and no longer becomes depressed about her appearance.
The mum said: “I just realized that I can’t do anything about it and have to just make the best of my situation.
“When you start losing your pigment, you get depressed and your self esteem really goes down.
“I have grown a lot in the past nine years, but I still have my moments.”
The online Vitiligo community has also helped her to better accept the skin condition.
Since joining support groups on the web, the mum has been able to talk to women who experience the same everyday struggles as her and give her words of encouragement.
She said: “Joining those groups has really boosted my confidence and made me feel better about my skin.
“It’s really nice to have other women to talk to who tell me that I’m beautiful. It makes me feel stronger.”
In the future, Lasharus hopes to start an in-person support group in the Dallas, Texas area.
“It would be really great if I could get together with a bunch of these women on a regular basis.”