BEAUTY HONESTLY 

A positive new social-media movement is celebrating vitiligo

Photo: @illuminate_shon

People with the skin condition are sharing photos of themselves on Instagram, encouraging others to do the same

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By Hannah Banks-Walker on

Instagram is not always a place that fosters an overwhelming sense of body positivity. Given its very nature, there’s an abundance of heavily filtered, edited pictures of idealised body types that sometimes feel like an extension of the many images we’re already exposed to in the media. On the other hand, it has also been a place where people have ignited conversation around body positivity, sharing stories and pictures to add greater diversity to the range of images present on social media. The latest is celebrating vitiligo, a skin condition caused by a lack of melanin, the pigment found in skin.

Instagram accounts and hashtags have started to use the platform as a way of building communities of support for those with vitiligo, sharing photos of themselves – or others – without make-up or editing. Accounts such as @girlswithvitiligo and @spottingbeauty are entirely dedicated to sharing lovely pictures of people of all ages, races and genders, while photographer Brock Elbank (@mrelbank) has recently shared a photo series titled #vitiligo.

Last year saw a movement on Instagram around psoriasis, which saw people suffering from the condition sharing their own pictures with descriptions of their symptoms and honest accounts of how it affects their daily lives. Now that vitiligo is being celebrated, it feels like a positive step forward for representation and diversity, challenging notions of “conventional” beauty. Canadian model Winnie Harlow, who has vitiligo, has been outspoken about the skin condition, helping to raise awareness of it. She rose to fame as a contestant on America’s Next Top Model and has since become hugely successful, appearing on the catwalk for some of the world’s most famous fashion designers. 

Hopefully, this new Instagram movement will ensure she’s no longer an exception in the fashion and beauty industry, especially given that, according to the Vitiligo Research Foundation, around 65 to 95 million people worldwide currently have the condition. This figure may even be much higher, as vitiligo is typically underreported.

It certainly has its flaws, but if Instagram can be used as a force for positive change – which in turn leads to a more inclusive, diverse future – that can only be a good thing. 

@hlbw

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Photo: @illuminate_shon
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beauty
beauty honestly
skin
vitiligo
Diversity
Body image
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