World Vitiligo Day is officially recognized on June 25th each year. Established in 2011, the day was created to generate awareness of vitiligo in the general public, educate healthcare professionals about care and treatment and raise funds for research. Since its founding, the day has become a global event that celebrates the beauty of those with vitiligo while also recognizing the bullying, social neglect and psychological trauma of many living with the condition.
Each year, thousands of people with vitiligo and their families mark the day both online and offline around the world. Stories of strength, hope and empowerment flood social feeds. Events like global conferences and local gatherings mark the day with education and fundraising efforts.
As someone who has lived with vitiligo for 43 years, World Vitiligo Day marks a significant moment in my life – it’s a day to celebrate that vitiligo is finally being recognized. Marking June 25th as World Vitiligo Day has opened doors for this movement. More people are aware of vitiligo today than ever before. Those with vitiligo are more willing to share their stories without shame. And even more importantly, the world is embracing vitiligo as a whole. Today we have a Barbie and CoverGirl with vitiligo, as well as many other models, artists, actors and more. The movement to raise awareness around vitiligo is working.
You can be a part of this movement too. I challenge you to step out of your comfort zone and share your vitiligo journey with your family and friends. The support you receive will be life-changing – and you’ll help others on similar journeys in the process. Whether you have vitiligo or are supporting a loved one, here are a few ways you celebrate the day and share your story.
Wear a vitiligo or purple t-shirt
Being from Minnesota, “purple pride” is huge – go Vikings. Lucky for me, it’s also the color of vitiligo awareness. Perhaps the easiest way to celebrate World Vitiligo Day is to wear a purple or vitiligo shirt on June 25. Better yet, get your family, friends, and co-workers to do the same thing and encourage them to post on social media that they are wearing purple in support of vitiligo. You can find vitiligo tee collections at Living Dappled and VITFriends.
Share your story on social media
Have you ever shared your vitiligo journey before publicly? Now is the time. I challenge you to share a photo of yourself and your story about vitiligo. Introduce your family and friends to it. You will be surprised by how many people you will reach and educate. Many people you know may very well know someone else with vitiligo too. Your simple act of sharing your story could touch hundreds. You also might be surprised by the encouragement and support you receive from loved ones.
Do something special for yourself
On World Vitiligo Day in 2014, I decided to get a tattoo to show how far I have come in my journey to accept my vitiligo. It was scary and exciting all at once. I had a friend help me design the word I had chosen: PRIDE. I chose a purple ribbon. I wanted it to have spots too. That tattoo gave me a way to show everyone how proud I am of my vitiligo journey – I’m also proud to see the ribbons used broadly by the vitiligo community today. Celebrate the day in your own unique way – buy purple flowers, get a purple mani or pedi, buy a new outfit or bring your family and friends together to mark the day.
Get a proclamation
Spreading the word in your community about World Vitiligo day is a great way to draw even more attention to this day. One way to create local buzz for your community is by getting a proclamation. In many areas, a mayor or governor can issue a proclamation without action from the city council or state legislature. You can find out how to request a proclamation by searching your city, state and the word “proclamation.” Most states will have a form to fill out online – for example, here’s one for Minnesota. A proclamation is a great way to raise awareness in your local community and give the day prominence.
Connect with the vitiligo community
There’s power in knowing you are not alone – and there is a vitiligo community out there waiting to embrace you. I have life long friends now that I never would have met had it not been for vitiligo. Today, there are Facebook groups, Instagram pages, local vitiligo support groups and more that all exist to support and connect those living with the condition. Get connected digitally or set up your own local gathering to celebrate the day together.
How will you celebrate World Vitiligo Day this year?
Alicia Roufs is the chapter leader of VITFriends Minnesota and has been living with vitiligo since she was 3 months old. She lives in Minnesota with her husband Dominic, son Herbie, and their dog Ronnie.