Last February, you posted a picture of a vitiligo Barbie on Instagram with the caption “Own what makes you unique, individuality is the best way to shine!” The post grabbed my attention – along with 150,000 others who liked the image – and filled me with hope for the future.
As a woman with vitiligo, imagining the impact that this doll could have on young girls with this condition brings tears to my eyes. Growing up with white patches all over my body, I remember being painfully aware of how different I looked from everyone else. Each day as I got dressed and sat in class next to other students who were “normal,” I was reminded that I stood out – and I was alone. It was a heartache on a good day and soul crushing on others.
Today’s girls with vitiligo are lucky to have role models that look like them. Brands like Gap, Aerie and Cover Girl are changing the face of beauty – but it’s not enough. Every day, I hear stories of pain, loneliness and low self-esteem – stories about girls who don’t think they are beautiful. And that’s why this doll matters.
I didn’t have a vitiligo Barbie as a child – but I wonder how my life would have been different
I didn’t have a Cover Girl model to look up to. And I certainly had never seen a doll that actually matched my reflection in the mirror. I grew up with kids asking why my skin was dirty. Yet I love to think that the next generation of little girls will be noticed because they look like the latest, hippest Barbie.
-Erika Page, Founder + Editor of Living Dappled
Erika Page is a blogger, speaker and self-love advocate with universal vitiligo. After living with vitiligo for two decades, Erika founded Living Dappled to create a community of inspiration and hope for girls and women living with vitiligo.