Mattel have launched a range of six new Barbie dolls including one with the skin condition vitiligo, another with no hair, and a doll with a prosthetic leg. Their aim is to better reflect today’s world and society through encouraging body positivity.
Over the past few years, Mattel have incorporated a range of new dolls into their Barbie collection to be more diverse and inclusive. They now have nine body types, 35 skin tones and over 90 different hairstyles. Even Barbie’s commented on the new dolls using her official Instagram account, saying, “What makes us different makes us beautiful!”
These updates to Mattel’s Barbie range show just how much vitiligo and other conditions have become far more recognised in recent years, and it’s an important step to celebrating an inclusive, diverse society where everyone feels accounted for! Mattel’s top 10 bestselling Barbie dolls last year, from their Fashionista range, included a doll in a wheelchair and a doll with an Afro hairstyle.
Vitiligo advocate Joti told us more about just how important the vitiligo Barbie is as a step towards spreading awareness of the condition, which is slowly becoming more and more recognised in the media and all over the world.
As Joti says in the video, “This is going to empower the young people of today and allow them to become more accepting, and to normalise this whole thing about people with disabilities and visual differences… I think, as a mother and a teacher that this is going to have a big, positive impact on young people today. Essentially, children learn through play, and when they’re learning through play, they’re getting an understanding of what things are about… when children are playing with Barbie dolls, it just becomes normal to them. A doll in a wheelchair becomes normal to them. And as they grow up, they start getting a better understanding that everybody might be different to them, but it’s OK!”
I know only too well how different having vitiligo can make you feel, but introducing the vitiligo Barbie doll into the collection of Barbie toys is such a huge step and will help a wide range of children with skin conditions feel more included and raise awareness of disabilities and people with visual differences like vitiligo.
Founder of VITILIGLOW®
We’re excited to announce that VITILIGLOW® has partnered with Emma Baglee Aesthetics! This Northampton-based company specialises in skincare and cosmetic treatments including skin camouflage tattooing, medical tattooing, scalp micropigmentation and more.
Medical tattooing includes tattooing over skin conditions, scars and adding features, such as nipple reconstruction, but also camouflaging areas of skin that may be depigmented, for example, which can help restore clients’ confidence and help them feel more empowered.
Emma told me that they see many clients who have lost self-esteem because of skin conditions like vitiligo. I know just how important VITILIGLOW® is for many customers because it means they can cover up their vitiligo, and sometimes people choose to go down a more permanent route like Emma’s tattooing procedures.
Emma and her consultants use an effective skin camouflage tattooing technique which can camouflage and hide scars, stretch marks and skin conditions like vitiligo. This camouflaging is called ‘dry needling’ where a saline is tattooed into the area of concern on the skin, encouraging the body’s natural healing process to reform and repair existing scar tissue, and it helps the skin produce collagen and elastin to reform the skin area. This then softens the appearance of the scar or depigmentation, and encourages pigment changes.
I feel that, just like VITILIGLOW®, which covers skin conditions like vitiligo, this more permanent tattooing procedure option also gives clients the chance to feel more confident in their own skin.
Emma explains: “Colour can also be introduced into the tattooing procedure to match various skin tone shades, just like the 11 shade options for VITILIGLOW®. This helps to blend uneven pigmentation using specially formulated skin camouflage pigments, but the body’s natural healing process is encouraged using saline tattooing first.”
VITILIGLOW® works really well with Emma’s camouflage tattooing treatment. Once the tattooing procedure is complete, the skin should be left to heal as per the client’s individual treatment programme. Afterwards, VITILIGLOW® can be used to even out the skin tone even further, giving a smooth, natural look to the skin.
Emma’s company also offers lip, eyeliner and make up tattooing, along with other treatments such as scalp micropigmentation, which address thinning hair in both men and women. Emma is one of the most thoroughly trained micropigmentation experts in the industry, and she will produce a customised treatment plan for each client to meet their unique requirements and preferences, so make sure you book in for a consultation appointment first.
We’re delighted to be working together as we both share the same mission – for people to feel comfortable in their own skin.
Emma will be stocking VITILIGLOW®.
Founder of VITILIGLOW®
I'm really excited about The Vitiligo Society's new app. The Society are soon to be launching their new FREE guided meditation mobile app for people with skin conditions.
The app is called Skin Deep and it provides users with therapeutic support for dealing with their emotions around their skin condition. It has a range of professionally scripted meditation sessions, which are certified by psychologists, and the sessions come in a choice of male or female voice and different accents. The app can send users reminder notifications as a gentle nudge to complete their meditation sessions, and there are lots of benefits…
The benefits of meditation
Meditation has been scientifically proven to reduce stress and anxiety by helping the listener to gain control of any tension by using the body's calming response. Meditation sessions allow the heart and respiration system to slow down and, therefore, blood pressure reduces too. It can help you feel less anxious in everyday life.
Meditation has also been proven to reduce depression by boosting serotonin and norepinephrine up to 'depression resistant' levels, which allows the body to feel more balanced. The more you practice meditation, the more it can help you change how you talk and feel about yourself.
The Skin Deep team explain that the app has five different guided meditations, all of which have specific, individual themes. I can really see the benefits of the app, as you don't have to even have internet connection to use it, so you can sit and listen to it just about anywhere – on the bus, in a taxi, or even while relaxing in bed. If you're having a stressful day at work, you can listen to the app at your desk, or you can link it to your Amazon Echo and ask Alexa to “play my skin meditation”.
Many professionals suggest that vitiligo and other similar skin conditions can be brought on or worsened by stressful events or feelings of anxiety, so I think this app is a really important step in helping people with skin conditions feel more in-sync with their bodies and minds.
I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that it’s really hard to find the time to meditate – or even to slow down! Many of you know that I have a busy full-time job working for one of the UKs largest mental health hospitals and VITILIGLOW® is something that I manage in my evenings and weekends. So, although I am often busy and work until fairly late in the evenings on all aspects of running a business, I am really keen to try the app out because it will give me that prompt to take a few moments to stop and take some time out to destress and make sure I’m keeping my own mental health in check.
Mental health is an issue very close to the VITILIGLOW® team and we are planning to focus on this much more on our blog and social media over the next few months. If you use the Skin Deep app please let us know how you get on and if you’ve got any hints and tips you can share with us!
The app is launching soon, and you can keep up to date with the latest news on the Skin Deep website.
Founder of VITILIGLOW®
I recently caught up with Caroline Haye who runs The Vit Pro website and blog. Everyone's vitiligo story is different, and Caroline's is the result of nearly 50 years of experience. Her website offers friendly advice, guidance, support and hope for others with vitiligo.
When did you first develop vitiligo?
My vitiligo began when I was just a toddler, starting off with a penny-sized white patch on my ankle bone and a similar one on my spine. These were followed later in childhood by more patches... Around my eyes, at both corners of my mouth and on the backs of my hands.
I only remember one childhood visit to the GP in connection with my skin. The doctor duly diagnosed vitiligo and had very little to say about it, apart from the fact that there was no treatment and not to worry about it. The only encouragement he offered was to reassure my mother that it would not make my eyes turn pink like an albino’s!
The condition spread much faster in early adulthood. And by the time I reached 50 I was roughly 80% pure, blinding white. I had no colour at all left on my hands, feet, face, lower arms, lower legs and chest. And I had large white patches on my upper back and either side of my waist.
How did you feel about these changes to your appearance?
I often felt quite panicky. Not knowing where or when I would discover the next patch was scary. And not being able to do anything to stop it made me feel powerless. I also felt isolated because, until the internet and social media came along, vitiligo seemed to be virtually unheard of. The doctors I saw knew almost nothing about it. And I didn’t know of anyone else who had it. It felt as if I had a strange and secret disease... And I was the only person on the planet to suffer from it.
Now I sometimes wonder how many other people I walked passed in the street back then also had vitiligo and, like me, were covering theirs up too.
So, how did you cover it up?
Unfortunately, there was nothing like Vitiliglow back then. So I started using make-up at an early age.
I can remember being asked by other children at school why I had white eye lashes on one eye and feeling completely mortified by this. They didn’t bully me: they were just curious. But I was so sensitive about what was happening to my skin that I didn’t want to have to answer questions about it. So, from then on I was careful to cover up my blotchy skin and white lashes. I used mascara and foundation and always chose my clothes carefully so as to hide my patches.
Later on, when the first fake tans came along (you know, the smelly, streaky orange varieties) I used those. They were better than nothing. But, as my vitiligo was so advanced by then, they took ages to apply. It was like trying to fill in a drawing in one of those colouring books without straying over the outlines. The whole process was laborious and quite depressing.
Given how hard you tried to hide yours, how come you became a vitiligo blogger?
Yes, it is quite ironic. I’d spent years avoiding the topic, only for it to become an all-consuming interest. Like a lot of things in life, it happened organically. I didn’t wake up one morning and decide to become a vitiligo blogger. There were really three catalysts…
The first, and most dramatic, was that over the course of about 18 months, I unexpectedly recovered almost all of my lost pigment. It began with a few freckles that I mistook for remnants of fake tan and tried to rub off in the shower! Then, almost daily, new freckles appeared and eventually joined up. I can’t describe how excited I was. And I wanted to share that excitement with others. In particular, I wanted to let people know that, despite vitiligo being incurable, pigment can actually come back. It would have made such a difference to me if I had known that when I was younger. So I desperately wanted to share the good news.
The growth of the internet was the second prompt towards my writing about vitiligo. After a lifetime with no access to information, I suddenly found that the internet was an Aladdin’s Cave of the stuff. I set about reading everything I could find on the subject and became increasingly fascinated by it. It helped me to understand more about what may have caused such a turnaround in my own condition. And it enabled me to appreciate how the impact of vitiligo varies from one person to the next… But also how it can unite people because of their shared experiences.
My third reason for starting a blog was that I have always enjoyed writing. (I wrote poetry when I was younger. In fact, I think it was one of my coping mechanisms. And I still find it therapeutic, so I have included some vitiligo poetry on my site.) The excitement I felt over my own situation, coupled with my new-found passion for learning about vitiligo, just needed to find expression in some way. And the natural choice for me was to write.
Who is The Vit Pro blog designed to help?
Well, before I even started blogging, it just began as a simple website with a few pages describing my personal vitiligo story. (Originally, it was called Vitiligo Protocol, later abbreviated to The Vit Pro.) My motivation was to encourage others who may have given up hope of ever seeing any improvement in their condition. A lot of readers came into this category, as I soon found out when they started contacting me and sharing their experiences.
But I also discovered that a lot of people were simply thirsty for information. Just like me, they had hit brick walls in the past when they tried to find out more about vitiligo. And, like me, many of them felt isolated. So, I started adding anything and everything I could that might help visitors to understand more about their condition and also feel less alone… Which is how the blog started.
Does your vitiligo blog have any particular focus?
For a long time, my main focus was on the subject of possible treatments… From natural therapies to medical research. This was because that was my particular interest. But I gradually realised that not everyone with vitiligo is preoccupied with how to cure it. An increasing number of people only want that kind of content occasionally so they can stay up to date with current developments. What really interests them is finding ways of feeling comfortable in their skin the way it is.
So now I also post on issues like body image, self confidence, vitiligo awareness and community. I especially love sharing tips that make living with vitiligo easier and more positive. In a nutshell, I try to make my blog the kind of resource I wish had existed when I needed it the most.
What is the most important thing you have learned about vitiligo?
That’s a hard question to answer. But I think the most important thing I have learned is that you don’t need to feel like a victim just because you have vitiligo. It is something none of us ask to have. But there are a lot of very effective ways of coping with it... Whether that means embracing it, camouflaging it or treating it. You don’t have to feel helpless. And I’ve learned that anything you do to empower others also empowers you… Which is why I admire Polly so much for creating a product that enables people to feel confident about their skin.
Having vitiligo has been a blessing in many ways. It has definitely made me a stronger person. And I think I am a more compassionate one too. Knowing first hand what it is like to live with a visible difference definitely makes us more empathetic to others in a similar situation. And I think that this is one reason why the vitiligo friends I have come to know over the past few years are some of the strongest, kindest and most compassionate people I have ever come across.
For more information about The Vit Pro, visit www.thevitpro.com, or subscribe to the blog at www.thevitpro.com/subscribe.