In today’s airbrushed world, it takes courage to openly talk about your vulnerabilities, especially when you are constantly living in the public eye. Maybe that’s why many celebrities who are living with vitiligo don’t want to talk about it (or haven’t even publicly confirmed that they are living with the chronic skin disorder). Who can blame them? They are very much like any of us who dread strange reactions and annoying follow-up questions.
However, there are other celebrities too, who in their capacity educated everyone about vitiligo in a much more proactive and positive way. They maintained a positive outlook towards life and had a successful career. Doesn’t this motivate us to do well personally and professionally? Yes, it does. Here’s a list of celebrities who were brave enough to talk openly about their vitiligo.
1. Winnie Harlow
When a beautiful, black model with extensive white patches takes part in America’s Next Top Model (2014), vitiligo becomes a topic of conversation, which was previously missing from all public platforms. Harlow, who walked runways across the world and has been featured in magazines like Vogue and Cosmopolitan, openly talked about her struggle with the chronic skin disorder. Her beautiful, symmetrical vitiligo became the inspiration behind Kay Black’s vitiligo doll collection and Missguided’s decision to install mannequins with vitiligo across their retail stores.
The supermodel recently took to social media to clap back at The Evening Standard, which called her a “vitiligo sufferer”. Though vitiligo can sometimes have an impact on emotional well-being, it’s not life-threatening or physically painful. And, that’s why Harlow has taken issue with tabloids for calling her a ‘Sufferer.’ Another lesson for the world indeed!
2. Dean Edwards
Being a chef on TV channel means you are always putting yourself in the public view. But, that did not make Dean Edwards hide his vitiligo with makeup. The chef has been raising awareness about the chronic skin disorder by writing blog posts and talking about vitiligo on public platforms. On his social media handles, he has been spreading a positive message about vitiligo. Dean rose to fame after being a contestant on the BBC cookery show Masterchef.
3. Lee Thomas
An Emmy-award winning broadcaster, who is currently a weekday morning show anchor, has been a vitiligo crusader in a true sense. In 2005, the broadcaster revealed that he has widespread vitiligo. The next in line was his memoir entitled Turning White. Though he is still masking his face with makeup before going on air, he has become a willing advocate for vitiligo fighters. Lee has been part of many vitiligo awareness forums around the world.
4. Ogo Maduewesi
Every year, on June 25, we all observe World Vitiligo Day (WVD) so that more and more people know about the chronic skin disorder. Thanks to Ogo Maduewesi who first brought WVD to life in 2011. Together with Steve Haragadon, the vitiligo awareness champion finalized the concept behind the WVD, and we got chance to debunk some common myths associated with vitiligo, every year
Over the years, Ogo has secured noticeable interest from the United Nations for her vitiligo advocacy work. She is the founder of Vitiligo Support and Awareness Foundation (VITSAF), a not-for-profit organization working into vitiligo research in Nigeria.
5. Amy Deanna
Amy started losing pigmentation during her teenage years. She initially hid her patches, but one pep talk from her sister changed everything. Though uncovering vitiligo was scary at first, she finally gathered the courage to start posting her vitiliginous pictures on Instagram. A CoverGirl representative found her on the social media platform and hence, we met the first model with vitiligo who was featured in a CoverGirl commercial.
6. Michaela DePrince
A rising American ballet star, Michaela DePrince was frequently mistreated and labeled a ‘devil child’ during her childhood. After being adopted by a family, DePrince decided to build a successful career in ballet. The ballerina with vitiligo fought all professional hurdles bravely and was named one of Newsweek/The Daily Beast’s “125 Women of Impact” in 2013.
7. Leleti Khumalo
Khumalo, who rose to fame for playing Fedens in Hotel Rwanda, was diagnosed with vitiligo at the age of 19. After spending years in concealing her vitiligo, the actress and producer revealed her “real self” while acting on etv’s latest show – Imbewu.
Speaking to Drum Magazine about her vitiligo, the South African actress revealed that she would soon be doing educational talks on vitiligo. Responding to a fan (on Twitter) who thanked her for speaking out on the chronic skin disorder, Khumalo said it was important not to feel ashamed.
It's a pleasure dear. We really must embrace Vitiligo and not be embarrassed… we are beautiful! https://t.co/J5L2IDogjd
— Leleti Khumalo (@leletikhumalo) April 14, 2017
8. Hedvig Lindahl
Hedvig was just five years old when she noticed her vitiligo. Between the ages of five and 18, Lindahl had brown patches remaining all over her. But, by the time Hedvig turned 20, she was all white. At present, the Chelsea Women goalkeeper is also losing the pigment in her hair.
Hedvig recently spoke to the club’s official website about her vitiligo in order to raise awareness of the issue. She doesn’t hesitate to talk about her struggle with vitiligo and issues with self-acceptance while growing up.
9. Manuel Gutierrez
Manuel, best known as Manny MUA on YouTube, made a video about his vitiligo journey. The video, which reached 1.7 million views after its release, had the make-up artist debunking some myths about vitiligo. Manny is the first male brand ambassador for the makeup brand Maybelline.
10. April Star
Child print and runway model, April Star was diagnosed with vitiligo when she was 6. She started an Instagram page to show off her natural beauty. Soon, she got noticed by many kids fashion magazines, and became a face for Gap Kids in 2017.
April, who has worked with the online boutique Love My Alannah and Essence magazine, instantly became the inspiration for many kids living with vitiligo. She has been talking about her journey in the media quite often. Too brave for a child – Isn’t it?
11. Jasmine Colgan
Jasmine was diagnosed with vitiligo when she was 21. When the skin disorder began stripping her pigments, she got depressed. She started taking photos of herself to get more comfortable with her changing appearance. Soon bored with her skin, Colgan took to social media and contacted others with vitiligo. Now, she travels across the country to meet and photograph people with vitiligo, to make them part of the “Tough Skin” photo project.
12. Isaac Go
On the occasion of the world vitiligo day 2018, Isaac Go shared on Instagram that he has vitiligo. The Ateneo Blue Eagle star informed his followers that there is nothing to be afraid and ashamed of his skin disorder as it doesn’t make him less of a person. This was indeed a great way to share his diagnosis and educate people about it at the same time.
13. Laura Gregory
If you have extensive white patches on your hands, feet, and chest, being comfortable in your own skin isn’t easy. But, for Laura Gregory, it has always been a cakewalk. Laura was diagnosed with the chronic skin disorder when she was 12. For years, she endured bullying at the hands of her peers until she decided to take part in Miss Continental. The beauty queen has been openly talking out about the stigma surrounding her condition.
14. Joan Severance
Joan Severance has held many titles in her life, from a supermodel, Actress, Chef, to Restaurant Owner. Best known as 1980’s face for international brands like Chanel, Versace, Giorgio Armani, Revlon and Maybelline, Severance has also acted in many TV hits like American Horror Story and Masters of Sex.
Severance was diagnosed with vitiligo when she was 8. She, now, runs a non-profit website – help4vitiligo.org and has been known as the Voice for Vitiligo among her peers.
15. Ninu Galot
An entrepreneur, and spokesperson for UK’s Vitiligo Society, Ninu noticed her first vitiligo patch at the age of 11. After going through several treatments and side-effects of phototherapy, she decided to embrace her “true self” and took part in Europe’s largest fitness competition. The competition got Ninu media’s attention. This, in turn, helped her raise awareness about vitiligo. Ninu has been talking about her vitiligo journey ever since.
16. Gautam Singhania
A textile tycoon, Gautam has extensive vitiligo. Yet, he has accepted his uniqueness very gracefully. Recently he took part in Ninu Galot’s vitiligo awareness campaign. The footage featured him debunking some common myths associated with vitiligo. He is the chairman and managing director of Raymond Group – the world’s largest producer of worsted suiting fabric.
First things first about #Vitiligo– No, it's not contagious! Here are some of us talking about our lives with #Vitiligo and how YOU can help change the stigma around it. pic.twitter.com/L9XrnuBM7g
— Gautam Singhania (@SinghaniaGautam) June 25, 2018
17. Krizz Kaliko
A rapper and singer, Krizz has vitiligo on his eyelids and lips. He made the chronic skin disorder his strength and named his debut album – Vitiligo. The album, for its unusual name, created a buzz in the media. This was indeed an important step to address the stigma around vitiligo.
18. Devontae Shuler
Ole Miss Basketball Guard had his first encounter with vitiligo during his early school years. Over the years, Devontae became an outspoken voice of vitiligo awareness. He recorded a video on World Vitiligo Day and got plenty of messages on social media from fellow vitiligo fighters. The sophomore wants to help others struggling with the condition by always speaking about it.
A writer, vitiligo spokesperson and CEO of Vitiligo Research Foundation, Yan Valle has written extensively on vitiligo research and care and peer-reviewed many publications and reports. Best known as the author of A No-Nonsense Guide To Vitiligo, Valle has addressed many dermatological conferences across the United States to burst common myths associated with the chronic skin disorder.