While bullying and body shaming may have increased thanks to throngs of trolls using social media, there has been a growing trend to encourage people to take pride in themselves, regardless of their physical attributes (or lack there of) beginning at a young age.
This includes developing new lines of toys that reflect the changing face of America. In fact, most psychologists will agree that dolls can play a major role in helping kids develop a sense of self-esteem, particularly when they find ones that look like them.
As a result many toy manufacturers, including Mattel’s family of Barbie dolls, are now available in a wide range of skin tones and body types. In addition, new lines of dolls with handicaps, complete with accessories including wheelchairs, canes, and hearing aids have become more readily available. At the same time, artist Kay Black has decided to take the idea even further by creating dolls with the skin pigmentation condition vitiligo to show kids afflicted with the disease that they, too, can be beautiful in their own way.
In addition to dolls with vitiligo, Black’s kays customz line includes dolls with “other “realistic features” such as natural curly hair and freckles.
“I love what I do, and take great pride in each custom design,” Black wrote on Instagram, noting that each of her dolls has its “own personality.”
Vitiligo generally is considered to be an autoimmune disease in which the body mistakenly attacks and destroys the melanocyte (pigment cells of the skin) in certain areas, leaving visible white patches on any site.
While it is often concentrated in a particular area such as the face, arms, and feet, there seems to be no way for doctors to determine whether or not it may spread across the body. Nor do they know what triggers the disease; although about 50% of suffers develop it before age 20, with the rest diagnosed before their 40th birthdays.
There is, however the contention that vitiligo may have a genetic component, causing it to “ run’ in some families, affecting both males and females equally. It is also associated with other medical conditions, including thyroid dysfunction, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, celiac disease, psoriasis, Addison’s disease, pernicious anemia, alopecia areata, and lupus.
It should be noted that vitiligo is not painful and does have any other particular physical consequences, although it can cause psychological and emotional problems.
At present, there is no cure for vitiligo. However, the use of sunscreens, as well as makeup or dyes to cover the light areas of skin, may improve appearance. In addition, some dermatologists have found limited success using topical creams comprised of immune-suppressing medications such as glucocorticoid along with the ultraviolet light. However, the UK’s National Health Service recommends that phototherapy only is used if primary treatments are ineffective due to an increased risk of skin cancer.
Note: Although most people first became acquainted with vitiligo after Michael Jackson announced that he suffered from the condition, other prominent sufferers include Canadian fashion model, spokesperson, and activist Winnie Harlow, who came to national attention as a contestant on the 21st cycle of America’s Top Model; singer Tamar Braxton and NBA player Rasheed Wallace. It should be noted that vitiligo also affects Caucasians. Among white celebrities known to suffer from the condition are actors Steve Martin, Holly Marie Combs, and Jon Hamm, as well as the late Dudley Moore.