This past August, we asked the girls with vitiligo in our Living Dappled community to share their stories about people’s reactions to their spots. And the answers were as varied as you might expect.
From questions about burn marks to biking accidents, I’ve gotten my fair share of ridiculous questions from people asking about my vitiligo over the years. I’m always surprised at the types of questions – where do people even get these ideas?
Some days, it can be entertaining. You wonder how the person got the idea in their head and just have to laugh at how far off they are from the truth. Other days, it can be insulting and even hard to deal with. You laugh in the moment and play it off like you don’t mind, but then you walk away upset that they could actually think that about your skin.
People say the strangest things about vitiligo
Nearly twenty girls chimed in when we posted the following prompt on Instagram: “People thought my spots were…” And here’s some of what we heard.
“#1 Make-up (around my eyes). #2 No tan from wearing sunglasses/swimming goggles for too long.” – @magdalenute
“People thought my spots were burns and several… people thought I had leprosy.” – @ladycooky
“Burns.” – @itslydd
“Dog bites.” – @cosima_muerte
“Burns.” – @alyssakheter
“Messed up makeup.” – @petrapetronela2
“Bleach spills.” – @minnesotavitiligosupport
“Bleach or burns.” – @pey_kel
“Someone thought it was henna.” – @lizzyholt
“Someone thought it was mud on my legs and around my knees, I was so confused saying there’s nothing on my legs though!” – @rachaelfloz
“Dirt. Like I’d forgotten to shower for a couple weeks or something.” – @vitiligoentrepreneur
“Messed up self-tanning.” – @pnjtime84
People most often mistake girls with vitiligo for burn victims
Reading over the responses, one answer seemed to be a common thread among the shared experiences – people mistook vitiligo for burn marks. Of twenty responses, eight specifically mentioned burns and two other responses agreed with other readers who had mentioned burns.
Turning the question into an opportunity
What do you do when people ask you questions like these? It’s hard not to laugh or be offended, depending on your mood. But remember that people are just curious and every question is an opportunity to educate one more person about vitiligo and raise awareness for the vitiligo community.
What have people asked you about your spots? Share your answer in the comments below.
Erika Page is the Founder and Editor of Living Dappled. After getting vitiligo at the age of seven, she lost 100% of her pigment to the condition and today lives with universal vitiligo.