As some of you may or may not know from my other posts, I am a volunteer at an animal shelter. I started there in March and left for a while at the end of April, due to one my own kittens dying from FIP. It was never determined if she had it already or I brought it home from the shelter..
Anyway, when I first started, I told the woman in charge of the cattery as well as the head volunteer about my skin condition. Basically, it's excema...It's very very very bad on the bottom of my feet and a lot of people get wigged out when they see them. I also have splotches of missing pigment all over my arms and legs, so I look like an appaloosa horse. It was a very hard thing for me to come to terms with because it drastically effects my appearance and for the first year it was a major blow to my self-esteem. I told them what it was right away so they wouldn't be alarmed.
So I've now been back there 2 weeks and out of the blue, my boss takes me aside and says there were several complaints about me from other volunteers as well as staff members, and one volunteer doesn't want to work on the same days as me at all because I look 'dirty'. As the shelter is indoor and outdoors, my skin does get exposed to the elements and parts of me tan but the splotches don't ,so my arms and legs do look obviously different. I also don't wear my best clothes there either. So people assumed that I was just a dirty, unkempt woman who doesn't care about her appearance. I was floored. I told the boss that all this time I was happily working away, oblivious to all the backstabbing. She said everyone was afraid to aproach me to ask me about it. I told her I would much rather them take a closer look at me than assume from a distance that I'm a dirty person. As an example, I walked over the the sink, took a scrubber and rubbed it up and down my arms. I said 'Do you see that? It looks exactly the same as it did before and IT DOESN'T WASH OFF BECAUSE IT'S NOT dirt! She was actually embarrassed to be in that situation where she had to ask me why my feet looked freaky and my skin looks the way it does. How do you think it made me feel? I had already explained what it was months ago, and now I find out that people are avoiding me because of the way I look.
It is a major setback to my self-esteem. I don't go out in public much because of it, and an animal shelter was the last place I expected to be judged. The cats don't seem to mind , after all.