Vitiligo, Self Esteem and Fashion Model

“Everyone can relate to being different. It’s not just me trying to be a role model. It’s my genuine opinion that it’s those quirks that make you gorgeous. Let whatever quirks you have shine.”

– Chantelle Brown-Young, Model


Dr. Sumati Kshetramade wrote a novel in Marathi on a girl who suffers from leukoderma. Later a novel with similar theme was written by Sudha Murthy in Kannada. The story is about girl belonging to lower middle class family. The girl is very good in studies and gets married to a doctor, later it is found that girl suffers from leukoderma, suddenly perception about her changes, now nobody wants her- neither her husband & in laws nor her parents and siblings. This in spite of fact that leukoderma is a cosmetic problem; it is neither infectious nor contagious.


I could relate to most of the events in this story. I belong to category of upper caste, lower middle class, Maharashtrian, where owner has to fulfil three tasks in his life time…

  1. Ensure that his son becomes doctor/engineer ( must) and goes to USA ( highly desirable)
  2. Ensure that his daughter gets married in a family that is economically better than his.
  3. With whatever money that is left after above two tasks are over, buy a house.

I know of a family (Uppercaste, lowermiddle class, Maharashtrian) where a couple had three daughters. Their mother suffered from leukoderma, fortunately none of the daughters showed signs of leukoderma. But none of them could get married. To know reason, one needs to understand mindset of uppercaste, lowermiddle class Maharastrian. To get your daughter married, she has to be flawless in terms of anatomy, character and genetics. The daughters in our case unfortunately were perceived to be having genetic defects. This may not be supported by statistics or genetics, but perception defies logic. In case of daughters, their self-confidence and self-esteem went for a toss, one of them tried to commit suicide, fortunately she survived.

Chantelle Brown- Young is a Canadian girl who suffers from Vitiligo, first spots started appearing when she was around 4 years old, and she was teased a lot by her friends. But she never let that affect her self-esteem. She was selected as model for Spanish brand Desigual.



“Desigual stands for being unusual and unique and atypical, so they figured I’d be the perfect person for that…They had a new line that had a lot of dots. And some of my skin patterns are dots. In the campaign video, there’s a part where the dot on a scarf lines up perfectly with a dot I have on my waist, and I thought that was the coolest thing ever.”

– Chantelle Brown- Young








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