If there are emoji characters for every skin color – shouldn’t there be on for vitiligo? Natasha Maldonado, a woman with vitiligo from Florida, thought there should be.
In honor of World Vitiligo Day on June 25, Natasha designed a new emoji for vitiligo and submitted the proposal to Unicode, the system that allows symbols to be exchanged among devices. Featuring two hands with vitiligo making a heart shape, the emoji was submitted for the July 1 deadline, which means it will be considered for the 2018 version of Unicode, according to the organization’s website.
“I’ve been wanting to do this ever since they updated emojis with different skin colors,” said Natasha. “Since I have spots on my hands, I wanted an emoji like that. I thought the heart was appropriate to express vitiligo pride and loving the skin you’re in.”
Now 30 years old, Natasha first got vitiligo when she was seven years old. Falling off of a bike, she got a scratch on her knee that turned white and the vitiligo then spread to her hands, feet, elbows, face, neck and arms.
“It was really tough growing up in Florida on the beach,” said Natasha. “Being tan with giant white spots all over, I had my fair share of stares and comments, but it only made me stronger.”
Today, she feels like she’s come to a place of acceptance.
“I love my spots and am proud to be so special and different. Of course there are times I wish it would go away, and I do cover my face with makeup, but in general I realize it made me who I am personality-wise and that a lot of people love me for who I am.”
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.