It's common for models to post selfies on Instagram, but Jokiva Bellard (@_indianrosee) uses her account for something a little different: raising awareness for lupus.
After doctors mistook her illness for eczema, Bellard was finally diagnosed with lupus at 17, and has since been outspoken about her experiences.
"This disease really impacted my life in ways that I never thought I would even have to experience as a young individual," she told Yahoo Beauty. "It prevented me from having a normal social life. It has taken my identity at times and also kept me out of school."
However, she's sharing her experience with the condition on her social media accounts, including her YouTube channel, to raise awareness.
Lupus is a rare chronic autoimmune condition that occurs when your immune system attacks parts of your body. According to the National Resource Center on Lupus, it causes inflammation that can attack any part of a person's body — including the skin, as it did for Bellard. Symptoms can include headaches, fatigue, joint pain, and, shortness of breath — things that occur with many other conditions, making lupus difficult to diagnose. A tell-tale sign is if a person develops a rash on their face, though not every person who suffers from lupus will develop one.
Though it is rare (affecting about 1.5 million people in America), a majority of sufferers are women.
Bellard told Yahoo that her condition has caused her to struggle with self-love, and has set back a few goals that she had for herself.
"Financially, it has even kept me from being employed," she told Yahoo. "I would be doing chemo and my doctors did not feel that I should be working nor going to school because my body needed essential rest."
Stil, Bellard is focusing on her Instagram account, where she posts photos and tips for everyone else who has lupus in order to "be a voice for those who were scared to speak," she told Yahoo.
“I see all these beautiful individuals that look up to me and that is what gets to my heart and soul," she said. "I want to give them a voice — that’s exactly what I do it for. And if it takes me to show my life just to do it, then so be it."
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