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Vitiligo veritas

Model Winnie Harlow
Associated Press / Daniel Ochoa de Olza

A Dyker Heights resident Tiffany Posteraro got tired of people chastising her about her blotchy skin resulting from the rare disease vitiligo — a non-communicable auto-immune disease where the body attacks cells that make skin pigment — so she got the condition’s name tattooed on her arm to raise awareness. She was inspired by famous people who haven’t let the condition keep them from stardom. Here are a few famous folks with vitiligo:

Michael Jackson

Perhaps the best-known vitiligan, the King of Pop was diagnosed with the disease in 1986, but he didn’t reveal the condition until seven years later, according to a biography. Three years after that — in 1996 — Jackson married nurse Debbie Rowe, who worked in the dermatologist’s office he frequented for treatment, but the pair split in 1999. The world-renowned musician wasn’t very comfortable with his condition — he bleached his skin to make white spots less noticeable.

Jon Hamm

The actor’s dormant vitiligo emerged while he was filming television’s “Mad Men.” The condition is largely heredity, but environmental factors can cause the condition to flare up, a dermatologist said. For his part, Hamm has attributed the condition to stress from filming the award-winning show for seven years.

Actor and banjo player Steve Martin
Associated Press / Don Juan Moore

Winnie Harlow

Model and actress Winnie Harlow was a vitiligo “spokesmodel” before she entered the popular consciousness by competing on the television show “America’s Next Top Model” in 2014. Harlow, who is black but who has lost pigment on portions of her face and arms, was particularly inspirational to Posteraro, the Dyker Heights resident said.

“Seeing someone with her status embrace it and show it off was very inspiring for me,” Posteraro said.

Steve Martin

In his 1979 comedy “The Jerk,” Steve Martin announced “It was never easy for me. I was born a poor black child.” In fact, he’s even whiter than you might realize. The comedian and banjo maestro reportedly has the disease.

Actor Jon Hamm
Associated Press / Jordan Strauss

Tamar Braxton

Rhythm and Blues singer and talk-show host Tamar Braxton (little sis to vocalist Toni Braxton) has vitiligo on her hands. The co-host of television’s “The Real” got real on her show last year when she announced that the vitiligo that had appeared on her hands was her greatest insecurity.

Krizz Kaliko

The Missouri-born rapper titled his debut album “Vitiligo” after the disease from which he suffers. The album’s titular song details bullying he endured and the lengths to which he went to cover his symptoms.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at mjaeger@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8303. Follow him on Twitter @JustTheMax.
Singer Michael Jackson
Associated Press / Michael A. Mariant

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