Vitiligo is an autoimmune disease that causes pigment-producing cells to die or stop producing melanin, causing patches of the skin to become white or lighter. It is thought to be caused from stress, trauma to the skin, other underlying disease, or even be hereditary. It's not painful or infectious, just unattractive. My brother had it on his hands and arms. I have it on my neck and in small patches on my arms. Mine could have been caused by stress-induced hives on my neck, which damaged the skin, but we're not sure. It started about six years ago, and it's not a bad case, and because I'm white, it's not immediately noticeable.
Another model with vitiligo making big waves is Winnie Harlow.
But this blog isn't about vitiligo. It's about things that make us different, that defy the normal definition of beauty, and challenge us to overcome such challenges and strut our stuff because we are beautiful.
We are all beautiful.
Then there's Kechi, a contestant on this season's America's Got Talent. Kechi was only one of two survivors of a plane crash in 2005 in Nigeria and sustained third-degree burns over most of her body. By the way, she sings like an angel and is in the finals of this season's competition.
We can't always help what happens to us. Sometimes disease and accidents leave us looking different. Maybe it's not the skin. Maybe it's the loss of a limb or limbs, or any number of things. These are not the things that define us. These are the things that challenge us to rise above our situation with strength and grace.
And, honestly, I'm not talking about myself here. My vitiligo started late in life and by the time it became noticeable, my give-a-damn was already broken. But what if it had happened when I was young? Would I be as accepting of it? I doubt it.
But maybe the real challenge here isn't with those with noticeable differences. Maybe the real challenge is with those without such hurdles. Those who look at these people and see freaks. Those who are frightened that such things may happen to them, as if they are catching. Over the years I've had two different women approach me and suggest that I get laser or bleaching treatments for my vitiligo. One knew me. One didn't. When I said it didn't bother me, both pressed the matter until I finally told them that if it bothered them, then don't look at me. I can only imagine what they would say to someone like Winnie Harlow.
Nope, it's all just part of life. Everyone faces different experiences and challenges. A physical difference doesn't make anyone less beautiful. Because real beauty is within. The outside is just the packaging. I know that sounds like a cliche your mother said to you when you were in high school crying over a few pimples, but it's true. Real and genuine beauty comes from within and shines out like a beacon.
Now if we could just get the whole world to understand that, we might be able to cure a lot of mankind's problems.