It took a while for Shayne Taylor to get used to the way she looked.
The 11-year-old has vitiligo; a rare auto-immune disorder that leaves patches of skin without pigment.
“People bullied me because I was different,” Shayne said. “They called me names like cow and stuff.”
“At first she was super embarrassed,” Shayne’s mom, Denise Taylor, said. “Long sleeves everywhere, long pants everywhere she didn’t want people to look at her dfferent.”
Shayne was diagnosed at just five years old after a spot appeared on her stomach.
“We had no idea what it was,” Denise said. “The doctor wrote it down on a piece of paper – this is what she has.”
Denise took her search for an explanation online, saying doctors had never seen a case like Shayne’s in Saskatoon.
The rarity of the skin condition not only meant a lack of information, but supports close to home were virtually non-existent, prompting them to reach out on social media.
“We joined a Facebook group where it was a bunch of different kids with vitiligo and they became my pen pals,” Shayne said.
Then in June, an invitation to come to Boston for World Vitiligo Day, where she had a chance to meet others dealing with the skin disorder.
“It helped me get used to it and know that I’m not the only person in the world with vitiligo,” Shayne said.
For Shayne, the biggest turning point was when she came across Canadian supermodel Winnie Harlow; the first model with vitiligo.
“I was super inspired by her,” she said.
“She went out and bought a bikini when she was 7, so that was huge that she wanted people to look at her now,” Denise said.
Now Shayne has no problem educating others about her skin condition. Beyond that, she’s also using Instagram to share her message of self-acceptance.
“Love the skin you are in,” Shayne said. “It doesn’t matter if you are different or not.”
While there are some treatments available to manage vitiligo, Shayne embraces her uniqueness.
“I don’t want to treat it. I love the way that I am,” she said.
Shayne has also been invited to attend next year’s World Vitiligo Day conference in Houston, Texas.