Vitiligo is a skin disorder that occurs when melanocytes or pigment cells stop producing melanin which leaves white patches over the affected areas. It’s not a fatal disease, however, it can cause psychological ailments due to the stigmatization and confrontational behavior the sufferer experiences due to their unconventional looks.
It is estimated that 100 million worldwide are afflicted with the skin disorder. Nonetheless, though there is no cure, there are treatments for the skin disease such as topical creams and ointments which can produce pigment in the skin, laser treatments which act as a light therapy and work best on dark-skinned patients, and surgery although the healing can be uneven across the skin which can look like scarring.
Despite the weird stares vitiligo sufferers may get, there are women who are determined to bring awareness to this disease. Below are the gorgeous women who are changing stereotypes.
Leleti Khumalo is a South African actress widely known for her role in Sarafina! And Hotel Rwanda. The discoloration of Khumalo’s skin became more prominent after the birth of her twins and was warned by doctors that the condition would get worse. Khumalo says “It has taken over my looks, but I am content. I don’t want my life to be about the condition. I have it – so what? I am still an actress, a mother and a wife.” Khumalo hasn’t let vitiligo stop her strides.
Chantelle Brown-Young, also known as Winnie Harlow, is a former contestant on America’s Next Top Model cycle 21 and now signed with The Squad – an agency based in London. The spokesperson and activist is a Canadian of Jamaican descent. Young had her share of discrimination which resulted in her changing schools several times and incidents of bullying which includes her being “mooooooed” at upon her entrance in her then school auditorium.
Don’t put her in a box because she will clearly tell you to move out of the way. She exemplified this notion when she gave a TedTalk that explained how individuals shouldn’t be put into categories as each person is uniquely beautiful. She talks of the need of those with the skin disease to step out into the spotlight and foster a collective change when she says “If humans want to see the same types of people over and over that’s what industries will give us. If we want to see something different that’s what they’ll have to give us.”
Enam Heikeens Honya
Enam Heikeens Honya went from ostracized and suicidal to becoming a model and health worker who also serves as an advocate and ambassador in her Ghanaian city of Ho. Honya is combining her aspirations of appearing on television via modelling and learning more about vitiligo and catering to the medical needs of others as a nurse.