Edward Hincks is originally from Australia. He currently lives in Finland where he works within retail design at a country leadership level. Ed works for one of the world’s largest retailers. His employer has never shown any prejudice toward his vitiligo, then why should society be any different?
Edward was 29 years old when he was first misdiagnosed with a skin fungus, which he later came to know was vitiligo. “I’m not sure if I’m lucky or not to first get vitiligo as an adult and not as a child or teen. Those years are challenging enough without the stigma of vitiligo. But, as an adult, it is not a walk in the park either. Throughout my thirties, I was angry about it and everyone who looked at me differently. Being a bi-racial Indigenous Australian, my skin is naturally brown and therefore the white patches stand out more, especially in the Australian summer when my brown skin tans or when my vitiligo burns and turns pink. Sometimes, I end up looking like Napolitano ice cream; brown, white and pink,” shares Edward who was recently photographed by Brock Elbank for his well-received photographic series on vitiligo..
Since Edward has lived in two culturally different geographies (Australia and Finland) of the globe, we were curious to know the difference between the treatment of vitiligans in both countries. He responded, “In Australia, I have found more prejudice toward vitiligo than living in Europe. Like the time in summer when I was wearing shorts and a tank-top, no one sat next to me on a crowded tram.”
Edward says he tried to change his vitiligo but it hadn’t worked. Therefore he has accepted it and moved forward. “I have tried UV treatments, creams, foods and even wearing copper to try and reverse my vitiligo. Everyone is unique and for some these treatments work but for me, they were expensive, laborious and did not work. I also went through a stage of covering it up on my face by growing a beard and then using beard dye to color it. I still keep some scruff on my face because I like it. But, now I let the vitiligo shine through, the crusader pours his heart out.
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Today, Edward is at peace with himself and his vitiligo. “I have gone through times of wishing I didn’t have it, but I think it’s another test of my character. I’ve slowly taught myself to extract the positive from the negative. It takes practice and patience not to react negatively when someone stares at you or moves away from you. I started my mindset shift with children as they are innocent and curious to things unfamiliar, therefore when they stare I smile so they have a positive interaction and association with vitiligo. I then transferred this to adults and it also helped me change my outlook about vitiligo.”
“There are a lot of ‘differences’ that are underrepresented in all media. One day we will all realize that there are no outward differences and therefore only one race, the human race. So, it is great to see a company offering custom dolls for children who are uniquely different on the outside. Allowing them to see themselves represented is a huge step toward self-acceptance and growth, which will ultimately benefit us all,” Edward shares his thoughts on the representation of vitiligo in popular culture.
When we asked Edward to leave us with a message for young vitiligo fighters, he had something empowering to share: “Be proud of who you are. Celebrate all your uniqueness. Be your own trailblazer.”
We hope young vitiligans draw strength from Edward’s vitiligo journey and shine through in their respective fields.