Artist embraces her rare skin condition by tattooing around her blotches before she turns white
Vitiligo is a skin condition affecting approximately one per cent of the planet's population. That's around 50 million people. Yet, many remain ignorant of the effect it has on people living with it, or the prejudice that they often face. Indeed, there are many who have never even heard of it before.
For those of you who haven't: vitiligo is a skin condition in which patches of skin begin to slowly lose their pigment, often resulting in white blotches. The condition is caused by a deficit of melanocytes cells in the body, which produce the body's melanin, and usually, the effects of vitiligo are permanent.
Now, artist Jasmine Colgan, who has vitiligo, has opened up about how she learned to embrace the skin she wears by getting a number of stylish tattoos, hoping that her example will be an inspiration to others.
Jasmine, who hails from Denver, Colorado, first began developing white spots on her body back in 2011 at the age of 21. Within two months, the patches had spread to her face, back and fingers. Jasmine assumed that her issue was curable, but sadly this wasn't the case.
Her doctor diagnosed her as having vitiligo not long after she consulted with them, and prescribed a special steroid cream to try to get her melanocytes working again. Unfortunately, the cream had little to no effect on her, and Jasmine's condition worsened.
She then endured eight months of phototherapy treatment at Anschutz Medical Campus in Colorado – where fluorescent light bulbs were used to treat the vitiligo. Sadly, this too failed to have any effect on her.
Jasmin was distraught over her changing appearance as she had wanted to pursue a career in modelling. Becoming depressed, she also felt as though the light spots on her body left her divorced from her African heritage: half of her family is from Ghana.
However, now she's decided to embrace the condition, and has even begun to incorporate it into her artwork by tattooing around the spots every six months, and documenting their incremental growth.
Commenting on her complexion in a recent interview, Jasmine stated: "It was really tough knowing that you haven’t changed at all in yourself, but when you look in the mirror you see a totally different person. People started to stare a lot at me in the street, and that became hugely uncomfortable, walking into a room and knowing that there are all of these eyes on you."
"And people can be cruel too. Someone once told me I look like a cow, which was pretty hurtful. I am very proud of where I come from and my family’s Ghanaian roots, so it was upsetting to see that very visibly disappearing in me ..."
"I know that by the time I’m 50 I will probably be completely white, so having these tattoos on my arms is a visual document of how my condition develops. It has made me realise that I’m so lucky to have this unique thing happen to me. It’s like an organic artwork all over my body – and that’s really special."
She added: "It took me about four years to really accept the new image of myself and understand that this is who I am now. But now I feel so lucky to have been affected by the condition as it has made me want to help others, who may be struggling with the way they look, to feel empowered in themselves.
"Honestly, if I could wave a magic wand and make the vitiligo go away today, I wouldn’t because I know I am a much wiser and better person as a consequence of it."
If you'd like to keep up with Jasmine's amazing artwork, then why not check out her official blog.