Lately, I have been in awe of South African model, Moostapha. He is a creative who has vitiligo but that doesn’t stop him from being a model producing ground shaking, remarkable and truly beautiful work. Would you like to see what I’m talking about, keep reading and you’ll see it for yourself. It’s magical.
I took it upon myself to educate and learn more about this skin condition and I think you should know more about it too.
Here’s what I learnt according to the Vitiligo Society.
What is Vitiligo?
It is quite a common condition which makes the skin, and sometimes the hair, turn white in patches. This is because melanocytes, the cells which give the skin its color, have been damaged. The way the condition develops varies from one person to another. It can spread to cover the whole body, but this does not necessarily happen. The
most common form of vitiligo affects both sides of the body, but it can affect one side only. Anyone can develop it, whatever their skin color or ethnic origin. It can begin at any age but about 50% of people develop it before the age of twenty.
What causes it?
Firstly, you cannot catch vitiligo. If you have it, you cannot pass it on to someone else by touching them and it is not infectious. Vitiligo is considered to be an ‘autoimmune’ condition, in which the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues. The causes are not completely understood yet, but they seem to be a mixture of genetic and environmental factors. The tendency to develop vitiligo is inherited, but this does not mean that children will necessarily get it. Children inherit a number of genes from each parent, passed on in a random fashion. These genes can combine in many different ways and only a particular combination will give children the potential to develop vitiligo. Even if they do inherit all the vitiligo genes, it is not inevitable that children will develop the condition
Is there a cure?
There is, at present, no 100% cure. In some cases, the white patches can regain their color without the person having any treatment. This is more likely with children. However, it is rare for the condition to go completely.
Having vitiligo can be very stressful…
Particularly for people who have it on their face and hands. Reviews by Gupta and Gupta and Koo have shown the ways in which an individual’s emotional state has a direct effect on diseases of the skin; how skin disease can manifest itself as a symptom of a person’s emotional world; and, finally, how patients can have intense emotional reactions, such as depression, shame, and guilt, to the often stigmatizing presence of skin disease. Matthew Silvan, tells us that although it is true that vitiligo is not painful and causes no physical limitations, many patients will, if asked, report on the profound way this disease affects their lives. Studies show that two thirds of patients with vitiligo feel embarrassed, and more than one half report feeling socially anxious, ill at ease, and unable to interact with members of the opposite sex…They feel ugly in front of others and self-conscious about the ways in which they must hide their depigmented areas.
Imagine the effect on your own self-esteem if everywhere you went, people stared and reacted to you as if you were diseased, infectious, and damaged?
Vitiligo is art
You can choose to view vitiligo as diseased and damaged (which I personally think is rubbish) or change your perspective (which isn’t easy but is possible), and accept that it is DIFFERENT AND SIMPLY BEAUTIFUL.
People with vitiligo are still people of value, beauty and I think are powerful. It is important for everyone to embrace and love them all the same. It is important to love the skin you’re in, no matter what shade, condition or scar that you have.
Read more on a personal perspective on living with vitiligo here
Media courtesy of Moostapha’s Instagram.