My grandmother had vitiligo. Her skin lost color all over her body, but it was especially noticeable on her face and hands. It was jarring the first time you saw it, but she was so sweet and bubbly it was easily forgotten. Hers did not appear until her 50s.
My mom now has small spots of patchy skin color showing up on her hands and face at about the same age. I can tell Mom is not going to be as accepting of it as Grandma was.
If you are not comfortable with yourself, I can see how this can be a very traumatic disorder, especially if you are someone in the public eye like Michael Jackson.
My understanding was that even if he did have the disorder it wouldn’t manifest itself in the way it did with Jackson. Personally, I think he bleeched his skin and it had nothing to do with the disorder. That’s just my personal opinion based on what I know about the man.
Well, the two aren’t mutually exclusive. Lots of people suffering from vitiligo use bleaching cremes (most commonly hydroquinone, but there are also lots of recipes out there for herbal or hydrogen peroxide based cremes which are not very safe) to try and lighten their “normal” skin tone to the same shade as their light patches.
What I don’t understand is why Mr. Jackson’s makeup artist was so bad. Lee Thomas, a FOX news reporter, suffers vitiligo with very extreme differences between his patches and old skin tone, yet it wasn’t noticed for years, even though many of the patches are on his face. He simply covered it up with quality makeup in the darker tone.
If Mr. Jackson had wanted to look “black”, he still could have. Skin disorder aside, he chose pale pigments instead of the darker ones which would have made him look unchanged, not to mention thinning out his nose and changing the shape of his mouth in ways which were a clear rejection of his genetic shape. Guy had some serious self-hate going on, and it’s clear to me that at least some of it was racial.
Given all the professional make-up he had to appear in videos, on TV, onstage, and in public generally, you probably don’t actually know how it manifested itself. It’s not like Joe Average ever got to see him without the make-up that caked onto his face.
At some point, it probably just went from covering the white patches with dark make-up, to covering the dark patches with light make-up, to “Aw, hell just bleach the whole head already!”
I believe I see your point. However, when Jackson was rising from novelty child performer to big star, he had to fight racism in the music biz. Many outlets simply would not play black music. In his fight with MTV, his parent company had to threaten to pull all its videos from MTV if they didn’t play Michael’s work. The bias still is there, and the obvious way to go when Jackson chose his makeup shade was the paler shade.
I can’t say if MJ had serious self-hate issues. Those aren’t unusual among entertainers, and I have plenty of my own.
I’m not a fan of MJ. He was undisputably America’s strangest person.
I’m a white man, and I’m 9 years older than the late KOP. There are countless things about his life that I cannot imagine going through. If I had screwed-up skin, though, and I was doomed to spend my whole (very public) life in makeup, would I choose a shade that would make me wealthier? Yes. Yes, I would.
There are some other informative photos on this site that include Jackson photos as well as a few other people. You can see from the little girl in the first non-MJ example, how the de-pigmentation can progress after a few short years. In the middle photo of the girl, if you wanted the kid to be an even hue, would it make more sense to cover up all that pale skin or the dark?
Yes, Jackson could have kept covering up to be dark, but after awhile it would just be easier and probably much more effective to go light.
I’m a caucasian girl with fairly severe vitiligo- it showed when I was 7 and even back then, once they figured out it wasn’t a fungus (tinea versicolor) that presents similarly, I was offered either skin bleaching or self-tanner as a fix.
Good, stable, and waterproof makeup blended well for skintones was on the horizon as far as being available and affordable in 1987.
Doctors still ask me if I know what I have- or if I’ve been messing around with fake bakes.
I think it’s a combination of the three- vitiligo, bleaching and makeup. When you’ve got more non-pigmented areas than those with pigment, it’s easier to tone down the pigmented areas and then cover them with makeup than try to maintain the darker skin. There are very good cosmetics for those purposes that will stay put through water and sweat.
edit to say- not that I don’t think there was serious body dismorphia going on and that vitiligo probably both spurred it on (it’s not pleasant to live with, even as a non-famous caucasian) and helped to abet it; ‘If I was entirely lighter, like these patches, I’d look less like my dad or more like a societal standard of beauty’
Well, no, because skin bleaching won’t change their bone structure. But yes, there are medical techniques that will bleach the skin quite a bit. Some bleaching agents are quite mild (lemon juice, for instance, supposedly bleaches skin slightly) and some are potentially quite toxic in high concentrations. Some destroy pigments cells, others just inhibit their actions. There is also the matter of how much is used.
If you go all-out and aren’t too concerned with long-term damage yes, you can really make a dramatic change in skin tone. Turning someone with the darkest of skin albino white probably isn’t realistic, but someone medium brown could get into the Caucasian range if they were really determined to do so. On the other hand, doing that raises the risk of things like chemical burns. Pictures I’ve seen of extreme, long-term skin bleachers look, if you can believe it, even worse than MJ with extensive scarring and very weird pigment effects.
All of this makes me inclined to think that his albino-white skin was NOT the product of bleach at all. Vitiligo strikes me as a far likelier explanation, as it certainly can completely deplete skin color in affected areas and some people really do suffer it over nearly their entire bodies. Vitiligo does not affect skin texture, long term and intense bleaching does. His skin is scary white, but it still looks like regular skin (except perhaps on his over-surgified face). If MJ bleached at all it would have been later in life when his remaining brown skin was scarce and it certainly wasn’t to the point of completely white. Bleaching remaining pigmented skin to even up skin tone IS an accepted treatment for extensive vitiligo as is covering makeup.
Interestingly enough, I had a DOG with vitalago. She was a Gordon Setter named Fancy, and was a show dog until it popped out on her at about age 3. She was supposed to be all black and tan. People thought she was a very old dog.