In a world obsessed with Instagram reels and unrealistic beauty standards, the work of vitiligo awareness advocates cannot be undervalued. Knowingly and unknowingly, these champions are changing the story and promoting inclusivity for all skin types. Year after year, Unite For Vitiligo pauses to acknowledge and celebrate these trailblazers who are rewriting the course of history in their unique and powerful ways. In their honor, we document their profound impact on the vitiligo awareness movement.
For our sixth annual tribute to these extraordinary individuals, we engaged with over 1200 people with vitiligo. Among them, more than 550 joined forces with us through an electronic survey, casting their votes for over 100 carefully selected influencers. Voters also had the privilege of nominating an influencer of personal significance, ensuring the list’s authenticity and inclusivity. After a painstaking month of compiling and deciphering the results, here are the names of the 10 remarkable individuals who, in 2023, significantly propelled the vitiligo awareness movement.
10. Scotty Richards, Model and Social Media Influencer
Scotty Richards’ advocacy for vitiligo awareness goes beyond mere muscles and aesthetics. He has invited 105,000+ Instagram and thousands of TikTok followers to embrace their vulnerabilities and rediscover what is considered truly sexy. As a model and yogi, Scotty Richards not only defies conventional standards of beauty but also fearlessly unveils the intimate tapestry of his skin, portraying vulnerability as the true essence of sexiness.
9. Anilë Krasniqi, Model
Meet Anilë Krasniqi. Two years ago, Anilë, also known as Hey Shlu on social media, entered modeling, marking a significant presence as the first Kosovar model with vitiligo.
Beyond her striking beauty, Anilë stands out for her unique style and an unwaveringly positive outlook on life. At just 22 years old, she has become a prominent influencer on social media across Kosovo, where every one of her photos garners admiration from a devoted 13,500 Instagram followers. Other than GazetaBlic, many media outlets have captured Anilë’s vitiligo journey.
8. Diego Kydo, Content Creator
Diego Kydo, a Santa Catarina native and content creator, has lately emerged as a powerful voice on vitiligo with nearly 124,000 Instagram followers. After being diagnosed with vitiligo in 2016, Diego tackled the condition head-on through light-hearted videos, discussing vitiligo’s nature and combating prejudice. His journey, marked by a self-diagnosis misadventure, emphasizes the importance of consulting professionals. Despite facing career challenges and grappling with self-esteem, Diego’s acceptance journey gained momentum in 2020.
A viral selfie and a heartfelt video for a young boy named Arthur propelled Diego into the limelight. With the entry of Natália Deodato on Big Brother Brasil, Diego’s impact grew across the vitiligo community in Brazil. Diego Kydo’s story, from self-discovery to self-acceptance, echoes the empowering message that vitiligo is not a definition but a part of one’s unique identity.
7. Anmol Arora, Poetess
Anmol Arora, a poetess and content creator, has lately emerged as a powerful voice of vitiligo awareness in India through her Viti-GLOW campaign on social media. Her inspiring story, shared on platforms like Josh Talks and The Social House during World Vitiligo Awareness months, has helped her reshape perceptions about vitiligo and the importance of raising awareness on the topic.
Despite facing rejection from jobs due to societal prejudices against her appearance, Anmol has transformed her challenges into triumphs. Not only has her vitiligo story garnered attention from major Indian media outlets, including Times of India, Hindustan Times, and Dainik Bhaskar, but she has also been featured in Amazon Fashion’s #HarPalFashionable campaign. The Better India and Humans of Bombay have detailed her remarkable journey, underscoring her significance as a symbol of strength and inspiration.
6. Yvesmark Chery
In the world of modeling, where appearance often takes center stage, 27-year-old model Yvesmark Chery stands out as a beacon of confidence and inspiration. Born in Brooklyn, New York, and raised in Philadelphia, Yvesmark has faced the challenges of growing up with vitiligo, marked by a speck on his face that subjected him to bullying and rejection. Despite the daunting experiences, Yvesmark’s journey took a positive turn as he embraced his unique appearance. His impressive modeling career includes collaborations with brands like Adidas, Puma, and GQ Turkey.
5. Shankar Jalota, Vitiligo Awareness Advocate
Fondly known as “The Vitiligo Man” on social media, Shankar Jalota has become a prominent figure in London’s visual difference advocacy and awareness scene. In his children’s book, The Adventures of The Vitiligo Man, Shankar extended this advocacy to mental health and universal human rights.
Shankar continues to be the Ambassador for Changing Face UK, a position where he actively champions understanding and acceptance of visible differences. Recently featured on BBC One’s Sunday Morning Live, a DE&I panel by Barclays UK, and a podcast with TedX speaker Agrata Shanaya Shukla, Jalota has been lately seen sharing his insights into the latest vitiligo treatment and its potential impact on the community.
4. Lid’ya C. Rivera, Filmmaker and Author
Lid’ya C. Rivera’s journey began in infancy when she was diagnosed with vitiligo, a condition that subjected her to childhood bullying and planted the seeds of low self-esteem. These early challenges, however, fueled Lid’ya’s determination to become a powerful voice for change.
Today as a vitiligo advocate, filmmaker, published author, and confidence coach, Lid’ya empowers others to embrace their uniqueness. Her passion for storytelling and dedication to raising awareness about vitiligo have found expression in her award-winning film Beauty Marks. Her Children’s book, I Absolutely, Positively Love My Spots is a lyrical celebration of self-esteem, perseverance, and loving the skin one is in. Lid’ya holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Excelsior University.
3. James McLeod, Vitiligo Awareness Activist
James McLeod is not just an entrepreneur. He is a DJ, author, motivator, personal trainer, and the founder of the impactful THAT VITILIGO GUY Foundation, a non-profit organization with a mission to empower individuals with vitiligo to conquer their insecurities and fears.
Having faced significant adversity and bullying while growing up with vitiligo, James emerged stronger and more resilient. He is currently committed to educating others about vitiligo. As a motivational speaker, social influencer, and author of two children’s books, The Boy Behind the Face and My Daily Superpowers, James spreads vitiligo awareness through schools, youth programs, churches, and social media platforms to inspire and uplift others.
2. Yvette Mari, Body Positivity Advocate
Yvette Mari, widely known as Evie Spice, is a known name in the world of plus-size fashion and modeling. A Playmate model, dedicated fashion and lifestyle blogger, and ambassador for FashionNova (a renowned Plus-Size Fashion Brand), Yvette has also emerged as a body-positive and vitiligo advocate on social media with a whopping over one million IG followers.
Many of Yvette’s social media posts have highlighted her personal experience of developing vitiligo in her late teens and her journey towards self-acceptance despite struggles with body dysmorphia and fluctuating weight. Through her platform, Yvette aspires to create diverse content that promotes inclusivity in the fashion industry. Her nickname, Evie Spice, reflects her eclectic style, influenced by the Spice Girls, her childhood favorites.
1. Winnie Harlow, Model and Beautypreneur
Born to Jamaican parents and raised in Canada, Winnie Harlow stands out as a supermodel and beauty entrepreneur. Vogue has rightly branded her as “one of the most recognizable faces on the international fashion scene.
Diagnosed with vitiligo at the age of 4, Winnie turned her childhood experiences of bullying into a mission to highlight the diversity of beauty. Apart from gracing the covers of international editions of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, ELLE, and more, she has walked the runways for renowned fashion houses like Moschino, Marc Jacobs, and Coach, and campaigned for brands like Fendi, Bulgari, Dior, Armani Beauty, Tommy Hilfiger, Puma, Maybelline, Smartwater, Cîroc, and more.
Winnie’s most recent venture includes the creation of her skincare brand, Cay Skin, inspired by a severe sunburn during a beach photoshoot (that exacerbated her vitiligo). Winnie has been voted the most influential vitiligian, ie. number one on this list for the sixth time in a row.