Vitiligo is a loss of pigmentation in the skin, causing white patches to appear. Melanin is the pigment responsible for giving skin its color, and vitiligo occurs because of the destruction of pigment-forming cells known as melanocytes.
This condition impacts people all around the world regardless of age, color or ethnicity. Talented photographer Elisabeth Van Aalderen is one of those people.
Elisabeth has many noteworthy accomplishments under her belt. She received her diploma from the Utrecht School of Arts and applied to the photography department of the Fotovakschool in Amsterdam.
Since then, she has worked in the fashion industry as a stylist and art director. Eventually, she decided to quit her job and pursue her dream of becoming a photographer.
About eight years ago, when Elisabeth Van Aalderen was 25 years old she developed vitiligo.
“I started to get tiny white spots on my left hand,” Elisabeth told Bored Panda. “After a few weeks, the small spots turned into one bigger spot. That’s when it all started. Today, 60% of my skin is covered in vitiligo.”
While she embraces the condition now, it wasn’t always easy to do so.
“When I was diagnosed, I started skin therapy: creams, lightening-therapy, a gluten-free diet, a vegetarian diet, no sun, a lot of sun, yoga. You name it, I tried it all,” Elisabeth openly shared.
“Nothing worked. Eventually, I stopped these treatments because I didn’t want my life to be like that. I couldn’t change the fact that I have vitiligo, so I started to embrace it.”
Embracing vitiligo was the best thing she could have done, and now she’s helping other women embrace the skin they’re in with her photography series Shades of Pale.
“She couldn’t wear her spots with more pride. Such an inspiring woman.”
A couple years back, a girl approached Elisabeth and randomly said: “I really love your skin, it’s like your own unique tattoo. You should be proud.”
This comment further helped change Elisabeth’s mindset, inspiring her to start a photography series focused on people with vitiligo. She calls the series Shades of Pale.
Even though 60 million people around the world have vitiligo, many people don’t know what it is. Elisabeth wants to change that. She hopes to spread awareness about the condition through her photography series.
“During my day-to-day job as a photographer, people asked me a lot of questions about my skin. This made me wonder: why not use these two experiences, photography and my skin condition? Photography is [a wonderful way] to document and celebrate the vitiligo body. It is an ode to its beauty and uniqueness.”
Elisabeth believes there’s a reason she developed the skin condition. “It’s my biggest and most difficult journey of self-acceptance.”
“I also want to tell the story of strong women that celebrate their beauty which, in this case, distinguishes them from others. I want to portray women who embrace their skin. I don’t want people to look at vitiligo as something ‘out of the box’.”
“When it comes to beauty, I believe there is no box. All types of beauty need to be inclusive. Beauty can be whatever you want it to be.”
“I have photographed women from all over the world who come in all kinds of shapes and colors, ” Elisabeth said. “The ages differ from 20 to 50 years old. For them, this experience wasn’t only a way of expressing themselves creatively. It has also been incredibly therapeutic.”
“When coffee compliments your skin.”
Despite how beautiful the women pictured throughout this series are, about ninety percent of them had never been photographed like this before.
“They really stepped out of their comfort zone. It feels very rewarding that the photoshoot contributed to their self-confidence,” Elisabeth elaborated. “For many women I have portrayed, it was a process of healing and acceptance.”
“It is wonderful that there is such a big community on social media which has made me able to connect with all these beautiful individuals. It has been such a positive journey, for me and for the ones I portrayed.”
There is currently no cure for vitiligo. Yet, perhaps we need to change the way we view the condition as a society. Instead of assuming it needs a fix, we should embrace its unique beauty.
After all, just look at how incredibly beautiful these women with vitiligo are.
“I feel so incredibly honored to photograph Sharista and just cant get over how beautiful she is, inside and out. Such a kind soul and a fearless power woman. She inspires so many out there with.”
Source: Bored Panda