We seem to live in a society where we are classified by our skin colour: white, black, yellow and red. What about people who have vitiligo? It is an acquired disease in skin cells that are not able to produce melanin and therefore leaving skin looking patchy and blotchy in certain areas. Or those with the rare dies we celebrate world vitiligo day on June 25, 2016.
I have pigment on my skin that does not tan when I am out in the sun. My left arm will still have white spots in the summer even though the rest of my body is a beautiful bronze. This is the only time of the year you can notice it on my skin since I am naturally quite pale. This, however, does not deter me from wearing tank tops and other articles of clothing that show what might be a hint of vitiligo. I am still proud of the rest of my bronzed skin.
Many more people are coming out in the modelling world with vitiligo. For instance model Winnie Harlow suffers from the condition, but with her beautiful looks it makes it difficult to not see her natural beauty. She was called cow, zebra and other demeaning names in her childhood. She suffered from suicidal thoughts after changing schools numerous times because of the verbal abuse. Luckily she was discovered by a producer from America’s Next Top model because of her Instagram page and the rest is history.
Like Winnie, such a small population of people suffer from the disease. Some countries it is less than 0.1% while others it is more than 8% with America and Europe being at the lower end of around 1%. It is estimated that only 100 million people in the world are affected by vitiligo. More needs to be done about our lack of tolerance and that is why World Vitiligo Day was created.
You are probably thinking what can you do to help? Personally unwound write an article to your local newspaper about it. Educate people that just because a small amount of the world’s population has this disease it does not mean we should be ignorant towards it. Give them the statistics, educate how it is not a contagious disease and so on.
I believe it is also very important to educate our young ones about this. Teach them how just because someone looks different it does not mean there is something wrong with them. Names often hurt as Winnie will tell you. Yes, kids can be mean, but there is an appropriate way to handle the situation as well. Talk to the schools about an assembly to educate the kids about vitiligo. There are different ways to teach the elementary school aged children versus the middle school and high school students. You never know, there might even be a kid in the school with vitiligo and this may make a difference for them and their school life.
You may be wondering what other celebrities have (or had) vitiligo:
- Michael Jackson
- Lee Thomas
- Holly Marie Combs
- Jon Hamm
- Dudley Moore
- Steve Martin
- Joe Rogan
- Rasheed Wallace
- Thomas Lennon
- Richard Hammond
- Graham Norton
- D. Runnels
- Tamar Braxton
- Rigor Tovar
- Doc Hammer
- Fez Whatley
- Krizz Kaliko
- Scott Jorgensen
- Amitabh Bachchan
When I read that Steve Martin, Richard Hammond and Graham Norton all had vitiligo, it made me feel better about the condition I have on my arm. Also, it is reported the Jon Hamm. so was induced by stress. Do not always believe that You are born with vitiligo. I can tell you from experience that mine has increased with age as well.
So remember to keep Saturday June 25th in mind for World Vitiligo Day. Some people with this disease need all of the support they can get. Do not leapt someone tease them because they look different on the outside. Keep Winnie Harlow in mind. Being called a cow or a zebra just because her face was not all the same colour, She is beautiful either way, but now more people and designers are paying attention because of her strength on the inside reflects her beauty on the outside. You can follow the event on social media with the hashtag #howifeelvitiligo
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