World Vitiligo Day

It started with a spot.

Just a small discolored spot (several shades lighter than the rest of my skin) between my thumb and finger on my right hand. 

That discoloration grew and more spots appeared all over my body (my other hand, my arms and legs mostly).  It eventually spread to my face, around both eyes, under my nose and under my lips.   I wasn’t surprised or panicked by the appearance of these spots (some of which have the appearance of actual polka dots).  I have gone to doctors, but the treatment is worse than the disease at this point.

Unlike most people, I have always had an awareness of what these spots were: vitiligo.  My mother’s older sister (now deceased) and younger sister had/have it.  Maybe because I knew what this disease was since I was a little girl, I don’t react to it the same way some less educated people respond to it.  If you don’t know, vitiligo is caused by the body destroying the skin pigment like it would germs or other invaders.  Why it does this, I don’t think anyone has figured this out yet.  It doesn’t hurt me.  It’s not contagious, so people don’t have to flinch away from my touch like some do (before COVID).

It’s just discolored skin, that’s all.  Mine is cream colored with a pinkish undertone, which is a contrast to my tan skin.

I don’t understand people’s reaction to it.  Some people’s memorable reactions include:

“What the f— is that on her?”

“She needs to put some lotion on those ashy, white elbows.”

“Ew, what is wrong with her skin?”

“He-he-he,” like Michael Jackson, who had vitiligo, but never publicly addressed it even when it was obvious.  Also, to the ignorant person who followed me through the parking lot saying this, you have no idea how close my sister came to whipping your trashy, tasteless behind that day.

Here’s my perspective.  It hasn’t always been that way, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more accepting of my “flaws.”  Considering the facts about vitiligo, it’s not contagious and it doesn’t hurt, why do people have to make a big deal about it because it looks different?  I am not going to hide my skin because it makes some people’s tiny brains hurt because they cannot understand it.  Almost everyone has the world at their fingertips (through their phones).  If you don’t know what something is and you really want to know, look it up.  If you are just looking for something mean to say, I can’t help you.  Only you can help yourself.

So, if you see someone with vitiligo, please remember what you read here.  Don’t stare.  Don’t make comments.  He/She/They already know their vitiligo is there and don’t need you to point it out.  My hope is that one day there will be a cure, but for now, I would like to exist without the appearance bullies.

Does anyone out there have vitiligo or know someone with it?  Comment here and let me know how you feel about it.


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