The best literature has the ability to make readers consider a new perspective. Thanks to many modern authors who are capable of composing stories that uplift the marginalized. However, it doesn’t excuse the fact that books have been biased to skin diversity. This is one of the reasons why we have hardly seen any character with vitiligo in fictional stories or novels. Thankfully, it is changing as long as we have writers like Kirsten Elisabeth Zehler who are tirelessly working on strengthening vitiligo’s representation in contemporary literature.
A couple of days before the world vitiligo day 2019, a novel about people with vitiligo was released by a writer with vitiligo. Giraffe Girl (Giraffenmädchen in German) is the title of Kirsten Zehler’s first novel. The novel revolves about Nike and Mio, two young people with vitiligo, who struggle with their spots and suffer from severe bullying at school. When they meet each other during a course of treatment at the Dead Sea in Israel, they fall in love. After many dark days at the beginning of their vitiligo journey, they finally learn to accept themselves as they are.
Understandably, many elements of Nike’s and Mio’s story are similar to Kirsten’s own vitiligo journey. Kirsten has had vitiligo for 25 years now. Still struggling with those days when she feels like covering her spots, Kirsten has finally managed to find self-love, being comfortable in her skin.
“One of my life’s goals is to support vitiligo awareness and to able to suppress discrimination and stigmatization against people with vitiligo. As a child and teenager, I really wanted vitiligo to go away, but now, as an adult, I cannot imagine my body without it. With this novel, I would like to encourage fellow vitiligans to be self-confident and fall in love with their skin,” the German raveled what drove her to write the story in the first place.
On the first page of the novel, Kirsten has placed a quote of everyone’s favorite, Winnie Harlow: “The real difference isn’t my skin. It’s the fact that I don’t find my beauty in the opinions of others. I’m beautiful because I know it. Celebrate your unique beauty today (& every day)!” Well, Giraffenmädchen couldn’t have a better opening than this.
The book is self published and available on Amazon for sale.