We have many vitiligo fighters, known or unknown, who share no insecurities about their vitiligo. They incorporated vitiligo as an added layer of fabulousness to their skin and in their capacity contributed to vitiligo awareness globally. Unite For Vitiligo salutes such vitiligans and cannot resist appreciating their determination and courage.
For our first annual roundup of 10 such Influential Vitiligans, we contacted more than 1000 vitiligo fighters globally. Out of them, 300+ came forward and participated in an electronic survey. More than 50 influencers were selected as candidates for this survey. These candidates came from different walks of life and were chosen based on their vitiligo advocacy work and impact. Let’s see who made to the list of 10 Most Influential Vitiligans.
10. Isaac Go, Sportsman
On this World Vitiligo Day, Isaac Go shared with the world that he has vitiligo and he is part of 1% of the world’s population. The Ateneo Blue Eagle star wrote in a lengthy post on Instagram that there is nothing to be afraid and ashamed about this rare skin disorder. The Filipinos Footballer said that having vitiligo doesn’t make him less of a person. His decision of revealing his vitiligo on a public platform was commended by the vitiligo community, which made him stand at the 10th position in the list.
9. Yan Valle, Author and Vitiligo Activist
The founder of VR Foundation, Yan Valle has chaired many vitiligo awareness conferences across the world. He is the author of the book, No-Nonsense Guide To Vitiligo, which has been seen as an excellent resource for the vitiligo community. The book is based on Yan’s years of research and practical experience with vitiligo. Through this book, he has helped many vitiligo fighters avoid misdiagnosis, mistreatment, self-prescription, and self-medication in vitiligo.
8. Jasmine Abena Colgan, Photographer
The creator of Tough Skin project, Jasmine was diagnosed with vitiligo in September 2011. Feeling depressed and heartbroken, she started to document her skin changes through imagery and turned to social media to express herself. She connected with vitiligo fighters across the world, and hence the idea of Tough Skin came into existence.
The multimedia project has driven Jasmine to travel to many cities and states around the world. She uses her project as a support group to encourage others to embrace their skin. At present, she is in the process of finishing her memoir.
7. Dean Edwards, Chef
Dean Edwards developed vitiligo when he was five years old. Being teased as a child and having negative comments on his vitiliginous skin inspired him to speak out about the skin condition in a bid to educate others. His social media handles and a blog represent a true reflection of living with vitiligo and coming to terms with it. In the last two years, he has been reiterating the fact that vitiligo is what makes him unique and different to others.
6. Tiffany Grant, Writer
A businesswoman and writer by profession, Tiffany Grant got an “It’s called vitiligo” tattoo inked to educate people on her skin disorder. This was followed by thousands of Instagram shoutouts and a series of media coverage in Dailymail, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Inked, etc.
Tiffany, who has experienced bullying and discrimination in the past, felt empowered by sharing her story. Her tattoo has been replicated by hundreds of vitiligo fighters across the world, which only encouraged her to work on her next awareness project – It’s Called Vitiligo.
5. Ogo Maduewesi, Vitiligo Activist
Nearly 10 years back, Ogo noticed her first white patch on her inner lip. Soon, similar white patches began to appear on her face. After a misdiagnosis, and couple of failed treatment, she realized that others with the same skin condition needed help as well. Soon, Ogo started holding support group sessions. A few years later, in 2009, she founded Vitiligo Support and Awareness Foundation (VITSAF).
It was Ogo who first visualized an entire day dedicated to vitiligo awareness, which is today known as the World Vitiligo Day. She began an online petition urging the United Nations to designate June 25 as World Vitiligo Day. She has been an inspiration in Africa for her tireless work in vitiligo awareness.
4. Amy Deanna, Model
Mainstream beauty brands are known to project an image of perfect, flawless skin. Thankfully, this changed a bit at the beginning of 2018 when CoverGirl, in an ad for its foundation, featured Amy Deanna, a model with vitiligo.
In the commercial, Amy was seen letting her dual tones stand out rather than blending them into a uniform shade. Right after the advert’s release, she was celebrated as a vitiligo advocate in the community. She was interviewed by all the leading media channels across the USA and had thousands of Instagram shoutouts.
3. Leleti Khumalo, Actress
After years of hiding her vitiligo under make-up, Leleti is embracing this skin disorder to educate others about it. She decided to show off her vitiliginous skin in the last season of Imbewu, The Seed. In a recent interview to a magazine, she revealed her plans to educate people about vitiligo. “I don’t want to do a half job. I’ll be doing educational talks on vitiligo, and I’d want these talks to have an impact,” she made a point.
Showbiz is all about looks and appearing on screen without vitiligo is indeed an applaud-worthy move. For this reason, Leleti was voted the third most influential Vitiligan.
2. Lee Thomas, Entertainment Reporter
In 1996, Lee Thomas discovered a few white spots on his scalp, which would soon spread to half of his face. After masking his vitiligo with makeup for years, he finally stopped. He subsequently shared his vitiligo story on air, started a support group in his city, and published a thought-provoking memoir.
His book, Turning White: A Memoir of Change is one black man’s story that is all about skin color, but ironically has absolutely nothing to do with racism. Lee has been a part of several vitiligo awareness forums, and hence grabbed the second place in the list.
1. Winnie Harlow, Model
Just ask vitiligo fighters who Winnie Harlow is, they will reply that she is their inspiration. Raised in Toronto, Ontario, Winnie was just four years old when she was diagnosed with vitiligo. After years of bullying and social isolation, she participated in America’s Next Top Model in 2014 and became a household name.
She made her catwalk debut during London Fashion Week in 2014 and never looked back since then. Winnie was the first model with vitiligo to be the face of a global fashion brand. This was followed by numerous brand endorsement deals, worldwide media coverages, and a video with Eminem – Guts Over Fear. It is well-understood why she has topped this year’s list of 10 Most Influential Vitiligans.
Vitiligans who almost made to the list were:
April Star, Child Model
Michaela DePrince, Ballet Dancer
Joan Severance, Ex-Model and TV Actress
Karl Dunbar, NFL Coach
Shantanu Gosavi, Model