Featured/Interviews

Do You Have To Be So Rude? I Have Vitiligo.

Hey Cuties,
Over the weekend I joined a childhood friend Tray and his family and friends in support of World Vitiligo Day. I didn’t know it was a thing but it is; June 25th to be exact. They rock the color of purple and this means next year you have no excuse not to support and educate.

what is vitiligo?

Vitiligo
 is a disorder in which white patches of skin appear on different parts of the body. This happens because the cells that make pigment in the skin are destroyed. These cells are called melanocytes.
Tray developed Vitiligo in his late 20’s, I would see the pictures his wife (also a childhood friend) would post on social media. The first time I noticed I said “oh wow, I had no idea” and I kept on scrolling and probably mentioned it to my BFF. Fast forward to last week and his wife is posting about Tray doing a walk, nothing “official” but just wanted folks to come out and do a walk in support of him. I immediately said I was in, plus I’m still trying to win step wars so this was dual purpose for me. Although I was in I still didn’t really know anything about Vitiligo other then your skin loses its natural melanin and you look a bit different. This was going to be a teachable moment and I’m all about educating the masses so here we are; I have all the questions.  I was honored that he humored me and my curiosity and shared his story…
 what is vitiligo?
When did you discover your first spot? I noticed my first spot about 12 years ago.  Where was it?  My first spot was around my eyes.

Did you go to the doctors for an official diagnosis?
 It took a while for me to go to the doctor, I realized that it wasn’t going away so I decided to go.  That was my first time hearing about Vitiligo.  Hearing a doctor tell you that there is a good chance that you will possibly start developing white patches spots all over my body is hard to take.  The hardest part is the fact that doctors are not sure if it will go away or not, how bad it will get, or if any treatment for it will actually work.  Some doctors can be insensitive to the feeling of the person hearing this type of news.  With it not being a life treating disease they would come off with telling you it’s just skin so you will be okay;  this is terrible to say as a doctor.  It’s not going to kill you but depending on the person it can take a toll on you mentally.

what is vitiligo?

How has Vitiligo changed/affected you for the good or bad?  At the beginning it did not have any serious effects on me; I started using some steroid creams prescribed by the doctor.  The little spots on my face got the pigment back because of the cream and that made me think I was in the clear at that time.  Then it came back, kept coming and still coming.  Most days are good but sometimes I do have days when it still bothers me because of the stares and the comments.
what is vitiligo?
Have you tried any treatments?  Yes, there are different types of treatment options but you are really just taking a chance on them.  There are different types of creams/ointments that can be prescribed by a dermatologist.  There are UV light therapy treatments in which light is used to try to rejuvenate the skin pigment cells.  There are also all types of different items you can find on the Internet that claims to be able to help your skin repigment.  I’ve tried the creams/ointments and the light therapy.  Most of the time these treatments don’t work but if you are willing to try them and hope for the best there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.  I am currently doing light therapy but it’s more to try to slow things down; I know and understand that I will never look the same.  You can say that its kind of hypocritical to say embrace your beautiful imperfections and still try the treatments but in my eyes excepting a major change is difficult;  so if you want to try to slow the depigmentation down its worth a try.  Just keep in mind that it’s a good chance that it may not work.
what is vitiligo?
How did you explain it to the kids? Honestly, I didn’t really have to explain it to them until they started school, their classmates would ask them what is wrong with your dad’s skin. Then I just told them that I have a disease that causes my skin to change.
Do you get strange looks? How do you handle them?  OH YEAH, THE LOOKS are all the time.  To be honest most of the time I handle it well because people don’t know how to react when they don’t understand or know what they are seeing.  There are days when I just don’t handle it well so I am affected by it.  Then my days are kind of off but I have to always remember and remind myself that our awesomeness comes in so many different ways so I embrace my beautiful imperfections.
what is vitiligo?

Here are some of my encounters and my internal thoughts, It’s called Vitiligo!  

– To the old lady that walked up to me and said: “Poor thing what’s wrong it’s going to be OK because God is good”.  IT’S CALLED VITILIGO

– The people I haven’t seen is a long time who say  “Oh, didn’t know you got burned in a fire”.  I didn’t.  IT’S CALLED VITILIGO

– To the kid who cried in fear at first glance as if I was the boogie monster in their nightmares coming to steal them.  IT’S CALLED VITILIGO

– To the kid that asked why do I look weird.  Different doesn’t mean weird it just means my awesomeness is different than yours. Thank you to the parents that checked their child.  IT’S CALLED VITILIGO

– To the folks that just can’t stop staring.  IT’S CALLED VITILIGO

– To the ones who hesitate to shake my hand.  IT’S CALLED VITILIGO and it’s not contagious.
what is vitiligo?
 
Other than a visual change how does it change your life and your routine?  Plain and simple it makes you really sit back and think that there is so much more to you than what you see in the mirror what anyone else sees when they look at you.
Did you have to change your grooming routine or products?  The only thing I really try to be mindful of is making sure I use sunscreen as much as I can, especially with running outside.  Besides that, there is no change in my routine.
What advice/encouragement would you give someone who just found their first spot?  You will have people say that it’s just skin so you will be okay, it is easy for them to say that because it’s not their skin.  I would tell them to find someone close to you that you can express your feelings about your changes.  Try to find it in yourself to embrace your beautiful imperfections.  You being different is just another way of you being AWESOME!  So be YOU and be AWESOME!
what is vitiligo?

Tray’s wife Zarinah is second from the left in purple.

I have to say my wife has been there from the beginning to present day and has been there with open arms through it all.  Even when I feel this is a me issue and don’t share my thoughts I know that she is there for me and that will never change.  She is no doubt my someone and I truly love her for that.  I have to say thank you, my close family and friends, for never looking at me differently or treated me different.  Thank you for that, it means more than you will ever know.

A big thanks and lots of love to Tray and his wife Zarinah for helping me write this post. I’m so thankful that Tray was open to sharing his truth, that isn’t any easy thing to do. In a society that puts so much focus on appearance, I’m sure it makes it even harder for someone with Vitiligo.

The next time you see someone in the street with Vitiligo, speak, shake their hand, give them a compliment. Let them know it’s okay to be different, and that you appreciate their awesomeness.

what is vitiligo?

Do you or someone you know have Vitiligo? Are you guilty of looking harder at someone that looks different? Chat with me in the comments below or FBIG and Twitter.

Join the discussion

  1. Chanel | Cultural Xplorer

    Thank you for shedding light on vitiligo. I had no idea that it could develop so late in life and would spread so quickly; I assumed people were born with the condition. This interview was very informative.

  2. Chrissy

    Such an awesome post! I am so happy to know Tray and really appreciate his rawness and realness!

    • MimiCuteLips

      Thanks Chrissy, I’m so thankful he opened all the way up.

    • Tray

      Chrissy I figured who better to be open and trust with my truth than someone that I know. Especially with this amazing platform that she has. Thanks for appreciating the read.

  3. Stacie @ Divine Lifestyle

    I can’t imagine having to deal with vitiligo. It’s such a visible thing, and people are so rude, they’ll just stare and make other people feel bad about themselves. I LOVE what they’re doing.

    • MimiCuteLips

      Stacie, it can be really tough. Can you imagine the face you’ve looked at in the mirror a thousand times suddenly looks different?

    • Tray

      Thank you Stacie. Mimi you are correct going through a sudden change like this can be a mental battle at times. As long as there are far more good days.

  4. Pam Wattenbarger

    People can be so rude about differences, especially when they’re visible like vitiligo. Spreading awareness is important for things like this.

  5. Marysa

    Thanks for sharing Tray’s story and all the information about vitiligo. I actually didn’t realize how much it changed over time – I guess I thought it was more of something that you were born with, not as much a later onset. People can be so cruel; only goes to show how shallow they are. Glad people like you are helping to spread awareness.

    • MimiCuteLips

      Marysa, I thought you were born with it as well. It has been around for a long time but it’s interesting how they still don’t have all the answers about it. People are extremely rude.

  6. Jeni

    This is a fantastic post bringing awareness to such an unusual and not very well known skin condition. Vitilgo is one of those things that you’ve heard of, but don’t really know what it is. This post was so informational.

    • MimiCuteLips

      Exactly, Jeni. I felt the same way. I heard about it but I didn’t know anything about it.

    • Tray

      Thank you Jeni, trust me when I say I knew about as much as anyone else before it started. Then it was a must that I try to inform myself as much as possible on what is going on with me. Glad you enjoyed the post.

  7. Dogvills

    Oh, so it’s called Vitiligo. I didn’t know much about this disorder until now, but I’ve seen a person with white patches on her skin before. I hope this walk raised more awareness. Thank you for sharing this post.

  8. Jamie | Makeup Life and Love

    This post is EVERYTHING! I can only imagine how rough it might be because people can be such jerks when people are different. This is so important to spread awareness about a day like this. I absolutely love this post. Thank you so much for sharing it and giving the insight of what it is like for someone dealing with it.

  9. Rondra

    Awesome interview! Thank you for educating me on vitiligo and spreading awareness as well!

  10. Lauren

    It is so awesome for you to be able to support your friend like this! I know it must be hard to have people asking him about his condition! Stay strong Tray!

  11. ricci

    I have a friend with vitiligo and honestly never even noticed that it was “bad” until she pointed it out. I say “bad” because I know she’s insecure about it but I always thought she was a pretty girl, white patches or not.

    • MimiCuteLips

      Ricci, the hard part is as their loved ones we still see their beauty but they have a hard time seeing what we see.

  12. Holly

    I am glad he shared his story. There are so many people with it even in entertainment and they cover it up. Must be tough to just develop something out of no where and then people look at you strange because they are uneducated. Glad you shed some light and so did he. Always great to support friends too!

    • MimiCuteLips

      You are right Holly, I know a few that wear makeup to cover up their truth. It is a hard personal journey but I hope this empowers someone.

  13. E H

    This is so interesting to learn about this condition. I do see people looking like this from time to time, I have never known exactly what it is – thank you for sharing this.

  14. Terri Beavers

    Tray sounds like an awesome person who is embracing his Vitiligo. I’ve only known one person with it, but I always thought it made him so unique and I think it makes Tray unique too. And he’s handsome regardless so he just needs to ignore people who stare. Be you. And you’re an awesome friend for helping to support this day. I didn’t know there was such a day either.

  15. Eloise

    I know all about this! my ex-husband has vitiligo as well as his mom, AND one of my very good friends! I think it’s great that you went out to support your friend and be involved in the step wars! You’re a good friend ; )
    thank you Tray for sharing your story!

  16. uprunforlife

    I have seen other people have this disorder but had no idea what it was called. Awareness is key in helping others who might be too embarrassed to reach out for help. Thank you and your friends for sharing this information.

  17. Jonna

    I appreciate him sharing his story. I think vitiligo is definitely one of those diseases that people don’t really try to understand because they think ‘its just skin’ and its not skin cancer. But I can only imagine how such a huge change in how you look each day can affect you.

  18. Tracy @ Ascending Butterfly

    I grew up with a ton of kids who had it. They were all born with it, I hadn’t known anyone who developed Vitiligo later on in life, I also had no idea there was an even a world vitiligo day.

  19. Elle (CleverlyChanging)

    In our world life is tougher for people who wear their differences externally. I know your friend is strong, and I’m sure it meant the world to him to have your support. Keep up the good work!

  20. Kita

    Thank you for sharing your friend’s story with us. I know a person with vitligo and the way people have treated her. Awareness is the only way to quell ignorance.

  21. Eva

    The first time I ever saw vitiligo was when I came to D.C. as a kid. I had never seen anything like that before and my mother explained it to me. I didn’t see a person with it again until I came back to DC as an adult. We see it so much here in the district that my kids are used to it and know what it is.

    • MimiCuteLips

      Living in a major city will certainly give you a variety of experiences. I love that you educated your children.

  22. Lauren

    I didn’t know there was a Vitiligo Day to spread awareness! I grew up seeing someone like this in my church so it’s not something that has ever taken me by surprise when I’ve encountered people with the disorder. I’m curious it it something that’s hereditary?

    • MimiCuteLips

      Thanks, Lauren. It doesn’t seem to be hereditary. There is still so much that is unknown about Vitiligo, which is crazy because it has been around for centuries.

  23. Lindsay

    Hello Mimi,
    This was such a fabulous read. I have known Tray since 2011, watching his physical changes throughout the years. Tray was the first person to every explain to me what Vitiligo is, that was about four years ago. This article puts into perspective what he, the person with this condition goes through. For the individuals who know Tray, we see him as we have always seen him. Handsome, hardworking, awesome father to his two children and incredible husband to Zarinah. It is very easy for me, not see his physical changes because, to me, he is Tray, same friendly face and fist bump every morning. But for Tray, I can now see this is completely different and much more difficult. So much more than I imagined. Having to interact with new faces daily who don’t know, and/or, understand. Reading the encounters and internal thoughts he has had to endure brought me to tears. Your article puts into perspective the need to educate others and our children. Thank you, Mimi, and thank you Tray, for sharing your story.

    • MimiCuteLips

      Thank you, Lindsay. Often times we see the strength of people and forget that they hurt on the inside. This gave me a new perspective, writing this and now reading the comments keeps my eyes teared up.

    • Zarinah

      Thanks Lindsay! You had my eyes sweating. Those words are so real and we thank you so much for them!

    • Tray

      Thank you very much Lindsay. I really appreciate all that you said. Many know that I am usually not one to share this much of myself. I guess the time was right for me to give my Vitiligo truth to Mimi and her amazing platform.

  24. bree

    The title of this blog is super fitting. People can really be super rude when they see something or someone they are not used to. I enjoyed reading his story and I love that you were able to support his “walk”!

  25. Evelyn Reese

    Thank you for shredding light on such a sensitive topic and something that many are struggling with in this life. I loved progressive pictures allowed by your dear friend.

  26. Misty Nelson Dawn

    I haven’t heard about the Vituligoday and so glad that you share this awesome post other people were so rude when they see the difference of others.

  27. Our Family World

    This is such an informative post. I had a great aunt on my mother’s side of the family that had Vitiligo. I did not understand it at first, being so young. I thought she had something contagious. However, as I grew up, I learned more about this medical condition. It is hard to deal with such a visible disease.

    • MimiCuteLips

      Oh wow, I like that you learned about it early on. As kids sometimes we know that things just are although we don’t understand it.

  28. Michaela

    I learned so much that I didn’t know before so thank you for sharing his awesome story!

  29. Annemarie LeBlanc

    Thank you for raising awareness to the disease. Vitiligo, although not a debilitating disease still takes away a person’s confidence because of the visible skin discoloration. Your friend is such a fighter and I know deep down it hurts when people stare. I wish him well always, and thank you, for helping people know more about Vitiligo.

    • MimiCuteLips

      Thank you, Annemarie. People forget that just because it won’t kill us doesn’t mean it is easy to deal with.

    • Tray

      Thank you Annemarie, you are right it can take a serious toll on a person mentally. I can understand why some with vitiligo cover it up. Everyone is different on the way they can handle others always reminding them that they look different with awkward stares they will receive.

  30. Oyinkan Ogunleye

    I don’t know anyone with vitiligo but current supermodel, Winnie Harlow is really changing the standard of beauty within the fashion industry with her confidence!

  31. K. Elizabeth

    Great interview. I have a few family members who have vitiligo. I can’t wait to celebrate/observe World Vitiligo Day next June. I’ve definitely heard some horror stories and seen the stares my family members get when they’re in public. It’s frustrating and irritating, but they handle it well and I admire their strength and patience when dealing with those kinds of people.

  32. LeShelle, host of MRTV

    I love being black sooo much, I believe I would be impacted mentally if I suddenly and slowly began lossing my melanin. I have seen people with vitiligo and never saw them as different nor was I afraid. I realize my indifference could be just as harmful as a judgemental stare or a crude word from a child. I really appreciate any post that requires self reflection.

    • MimiCuteLips

      LeShelle, I could totally understand that.

    • Tray

      LeShelle I understand where you are coming from. We all go through situations that makes us sit back self reflect. Thank you for appreciating my truth.

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