Over the last few years, many celebrities have come out and talked openly about their struggles with vitiligo – an encouraging trend, and an important step to raise awareness about a harmless skin disorder that is hugely misunderstood around the world.
Obviously, not all vitiligo spreads are the same. So, different celebrities have had different experiences of living a life with skin condition. Depending on where it starts, vitiligo can be of different types and subtypes. Irrespective of the type, almost all of them have maintained a positive outlook towards life and had a successful career. This only makes each one of them a role model that all vitiligans could have long back with Michael Jackson.
We all remember Michael Jackson as the king of pop who had always been the talk of the town not only for his art but also for his fading skin color. The discussion over his appearance is complicated, just like his life. So, we can only imagine how the lives of those living with vitiligo could be if he spoke about vitiligo more than just once (that too in a very hush manner).
>Michael Jackson and his vitiligo story
Opposite to the popular belief, Michael Jackson did not bleach himself white. The drastic change in his appearance, from dark to white, was the result of vitiligo. As confirmed by his dermatologist, Dr. Arnold Klein, the pop icon began battling the chronic skin disorder in 1982, around the release and success of Thriller.
Karen Faye, Michael´s long-time makeup artist noticed his vitiligo more than anyone else – “It was on the right-hand side of his face, down his neck and also on the back of his hand.” At first, Michael worked with Karen to cover his patches with make-up. But by the early 1990s, the change in his appearance was quite obvious. And when patches were too many to hide with makeup, Michael started using Benoquin Cream. Tubes of the depigmenting agent could be found in his house after his death in 2009.
How could Michael Jackson contribute to vitiligo awareness?
One of the legacies Michael left behind is the truth about human life that we all are black, we all are white, we all are connected, and we all are one. His message of equality if coupled with vitiligo awareness could do wonders and make those living with vitiligo in isolation that time feel special.
We all remember February 10, 1993, when Jackson sat down for a live interview with Oprah Winfrey. This was the time when the controversy over his skin color hit its zenith. Though Michael spoke openly about his skin condition in the interview and said it ran in his family, he could go on to explain it in length.
The interview which reached 90 million people around the globe and set a record for television’s most-watched interview could become an opportunity to dispel common myths associated with it. We can only imagine what it would have meant for people living with vitiligo then (many are still alive). In times when no social media was available, image what Michael talking about their own skin condition could do to their self-esteem and sense of belongingness. Subsequent press coverage on vitiligo after that interview could change the landscape for vitiligo awareness in a big way too.
Like all of us, Michael must have loved the natural color of his skin something he was trying very hard to cover up since his early 20s. A young black man with vitiligo could have been embarrassed and probably did not know precisely what was happening. But, sharing this struggle in interviews and other public forums could only help Michael speak his heart out, letting the world know that he wasn’t ashamed of his race and black heritage.
Michael’s untimely death may make us feel sad now, but it must compel us to complete a significant task he left unfinished – educating more and more people about vitiligo.