Michael Jackson Turned White, But How? Vitiligo Definition Explained

A common question among Michael Jackson music fans is the fading of his complexion from a darker to lighter shade. Although this was not always obvious when he was alive, the media now states that, as Michael Jackson grew older, his skin grew whiter because of a dermatological condition called vitiligo.

The meaning of vitiligo defined by the National Institute for Health is “a disorder in which white patches of skin appear on different parts of the body.” Although the cause is not known, it is assumed that Michael Jackson’s vitiligo may be related to an autoimmune disorder.

Obviously, since it was a mysterious skin condition, Michael Jackson had issues addressing it with his adoring fans. Vitiligo also affects other celebrities aside from Michael Jackson such as model Winnie Harlow and actor Jon Hamm.

However, what many fans do not understand is that Michael Jackson’s autopsy confirmed he had vitiligo. According to CNN, Michael Jackson’s complexion started fading in the 1980s. Years later, actress Cicely Tyson claimed that Michael Jackson started wearing his famous glove on one hand in the 1980s to cover up his new vitiligo condition.

Unfortunately, due to the lack of available treatments during Michael Jackson’s lifetime, fans often misunderstood his white appearance. After noticing Michael Jackson was whiter than usual for almost a decade, MJ and his doctor decided to confront fans.

Michael Jackson vitiligo disorder turned skin white.

Michael Jackson’s dermatologist, Arnold Klein, first told the public about MJ’s vitiligo around the time of his Super Bowl halftime show in 1993.

At the time, Michael Jackson went on Oprah to tell fans that he was turning white because of vitiligo and not bleaching his skin with a medicine taken internally, according to New York Times.

According to Vanity Fair, Arnold Klein also said that Michael Jackson showed signs of lupus in addition to vitiligo.

Although Michael Jackson fans might have grappled with his complexion because they thought he was using skin bleaching, some consider the unique patterns of vitiligo to be a fashion accessory.

As previously reported by the Inquisitr, when Winnie Harlow launched her career as a model, she decided to show off her vitiligo instead of using makeup to cover it up like Michael Jackson did.

Winnie Harlow became famous when she got a modeling contract with Desigual because she shared Michael Jackson’s vitiligo condition. Many press sources compared her with Michael Jackson, and it appeared that fans started seeing him and vitiligo in a new, more positive light.

A couple of years later, Daily Mail reported that Winnie Harlow is still modeling without covering her vitiligo, and she is keeping a celebrity profile in the U.K. In other words, while Michael Jackson had some discrimination from critics, Winnie Harlow is proving that vitiligo is not a barrier to beauty in modern times.

Michael Jackson vitiligo autopsy report.

Nevertheless, while Winnie Harlow is still sticking up for vitiligo, she recently told Elle Canada in an interview that she does not think of herself as a role model. Instead, Winnie Harlow prefers to be called an “inspiration.”

Although Winnie Harlow might not prefer to use a vitiligo treatment, Michael Jackson was looking for a cure to his condition. Sadly, since he died in 2009, Michael Jackson never got a chance to use a new 2015 vitiligo treatment called tofacitinib.

According to Journal Watch, tofacitinib is the most current vitiligo medication that is used to treat a disorder that one out of every 200 Americans are diagnosed with.

As far as possible treatments that Michael Jackson might have used to treat vitiligo are concerned, there are traditional treatments such as turmeric that do not work very well. Other vitiligo treatment options in Western medicine include medications like abatacept, simvastatin, and afamelanotide, according to MD Edge.

Outside of Michael Jackson and Winnie Harlow, other famous people with vitiligo include Tamar Braxton, Breanna Rice, Chantelle Brown-Young, and Jon Hamm. However, rumors that musician Sia has vitiligo are not true.

Interestingly, if Michael Jackson was alive today, he might not have an easy time getting treated for vitiligo after all.

For instance, Jon Hamm told GQ in 2015 that, despite vitiligo being somewhat common, “there isn’t really a cure for it, or, indeed, a clear cause.”

Jon Hamm went on to say his vitiligo is triggered by stress, and it “comes like a plague, and it stays for however long it stays. Sometimes, it stays forever.”

Currently, there are support groups for people with vitiligo that keep individuals in touch with the headlines. To find out more, visit Vitiligo Support.

[Feature Image by U.S. Army/Getty Images]