Hedvig Lindahl is a 26 year old Swedish football player who currently plays for Göteborg football club in Damallsvenskan. She has been regularly convoked for the Swedish national football team and won the Goalie of the year award in 2004 and 2005. She has played in two Olympics and won several medals in national competitions.
Hedvig has had vitiligo since she was little and agreed to answer some questions about how it impacted her life and career.
1. I've read on your website that the condition started around the age of 5. How was it growing up and being different ?
Hm, at first I didn't think of it so much. The only thing that bothered me was when heading to the beach, me having to use a whole lot of sunblock. For me, the smell of sunblock is the smell of summer. When I turned older, I was glad that I had brown parts of pigment on by body, 'cause then people could see that I had an illness, instead of just being all white. Now, when I'm older, I don't care about other people's opinion so much, but I'm glad that I'm all white now. It suits me !
2. Every vitiligo patient knows vitiligo is more than some white spots on the skin. Though some may deny it, the condition has negative psychological effects as well. Was there any point in your life you've felt that vitiligo is physically or mentally keeping you from doing something you want ?
A while ago I avoided to wearing shorts and t-shirts. That's about it. I've never been much of a sun bathing girl, so that part didn't really bother me. Sometimes I still hesitate to wear a no-sleeves shirt or show off my white legs too much, but if I would want to do that, I would do it.
3. If someone asks about your vitiligo how do you react ?
I answer their question as if I were to get any other question. I have no problem talking about it, it's a natural part of who I am.
4. Do you have friends with the same condition ?
I do have some friends who has some pigmential difference, but no friend with as much vitiligo as I have.
5. Did you ever get a negative reaction from someone because of your vitiligo ? (If yes, how did you handle it ?)
6. Have you ever considered becoming a vitiligo spokesperson after the end of your football career ?
Maybe, if the society need a person to speak for it, I might consider it. But in my world, it's not a big issue, so I don't think about it so much.
7. What would you do to improve general awareness about this condition ?
Talk about it in public. Tell people that you have condition, be proud to be different, don't feel ashamed. Educate people you meet, make everyone know what vitiligo is. Just as any other condition. Take a step out in the light of society and be proud, instead of hide and feel bad.
If you want to find out more about Hedvig, visit her website at: www.hedviglindahl.se