World Vitiligo Day, observed on the 25th June is a global day in the calendar that brings the community together as one.
Vitiligo is part of our every day lives not just on the 25th June and whilst some of us have been able to accept our skin, there are many others still struggling to come to terms with an unpredictable condition where white patches form on the skin. It’s one of the reasons why today is so important.
The idea for World Vitiligo Day was first recognised in 2011, by Ogo Maduewesi, the founder of the Vitiligo Support and Awareness Foundation (VITSAF) in Nigeria. At the time, the purpose was to bring a small group of vitiligans (as they are also known!) together in memory of Michael Jackson and also to bring more recognition to a visible difference that wasn’t openly spoken about. Shortly after, and in response to a petition that was launched by Ogo in relation to vitiligo with Yan Valle, the CEO of the Vitiligo Research Foundation (VRF) recognising that there was potential in creating an international day of awareness. In 2011, WVD moved towards becoming global.
Now, 10 years later, things have moved on from it being an occasion celebrated in the US, with the community coming together globally to celebrate in so many ways, with virtual conferences, collaborations amongst the community and plenty of support and encouragement shared on social media.
Aside from coming together as a community, World Vitiligo Day is about raising awareness and educating those who may not have heard, or understand the condition. Vitiligo is a highly visible condition and for many of us, it can be difficult to escape the stares and judgements we often face on a daily basis and for us raising awareness is about normalising the condition as much as possible.
I asked some of our strong advocates who publicly champion vitiligo and raise awareness, what World Vitiligo Day meant to them. Here’s what they shared:
Growing up I never knew anyone else with vitiligo. But today, thanks to the power of the Internet, I’ve met so many wonderful people with similar experiences to my own. To me, World Vitiligo Day is a time to celebrate our skin and our community, while amplifying our voices to bring awareness and acceptance to those outside of it.
World Vitiligo Day is a day we (the worlds 1%), can celebrate being so unique and so special. What I love most, is seeing and hearing everyone’s stories and journeys. It not only makes my heart smile but gives me the inspiration to do more and love my own vitiligo even more.
On World Vitiligo Day, we reflect on our struggles and celebrate how far we have come when personal victory and a positive self-image is achieved. This day connects all people with vitiligo globally. World Vitiligo Day has a purpose and we celebrate it with pride and joy, making the people in our community stronger every day! Happy World Vitiligo Day!
World Vitiligo Day means education. Educating people about our beautiful skin, removing the stigma and reminding people that it isn’t contagious. Reminding people that there is nothing wrong with us, we are just very unique looking, and beyond our skin our heart beats the same as everyone else’s. We are just different on the outside. We can only create acceptance by educating and encouraging understanding.
World Vitiligo day to me means I’m never alone as I once was. It means standing together with so many other wonderful people in our community. Proudly holding my head high and finally saying (after 21 years of hiding) that I love the skin I am in.
World Vitiligo Day means showing people that it is nice and cool to be different. That you don’t have to be ashamed and that you can be beautiful and self-confident even with flaws. I am proud of my skin and I want to show people who have vitiligo that they too, are special and have nothing to be ashamed of.
World Vitiligo Day means a so much to me because it is a reminder of the massive turning point in my life. It is the date that I took part in a shoot with Brock Elbank who put me in front of the camera and took some incredible images of my skin which boosted my confidence and suddenly allowed me to see my skin in a different light. It introduced me to the community. WVD is a massive celebration to mark that moment and for us all to join together and show the world how beautiful and strong we are.
As my first World Vitiligo day, for me, this moment means being part of something that is far bigger than myself. It is a day to celebrate what makes us unique. It’s a time for us to shine and raise awareness about our skin. As we continue to raise awareness, we can build a culture that sparks curiosity and causes outsiders to see the world from our eyes. World Vitiligo Day is a beautiful opportunity to propel change.
Wishing you all a Happy World Vitiligo Day 2021.