Vitiligo is a disease that causes the loss of skin color in blotches as the patches of the skin lose their pigment. It can affect the skin on any part of your body. The disorder affects roughly 1-3 per cent of the population and it is not harmless physically but can cause psychological stress and social stigma.
A 64-year-old Brazilian grandfather João Stanganelli Junior began to show signs of vitiligo at 38. He used to work in the gastronomy industry but due to a heart problem, his life changed. He decided to adopt a hobby to keep himself active and along with his wife Marilena, he decided to learn to crochet.
João told Bored Panda: ”At first my fingers and back hurt a lot, today no more,”
”I’m not yet retired, I still keep up my old work with food, but much less intensely. At the moment I spend 90% of my time with the dolls. I have many orders.”
His first project was a doll for his granddaughter. He decided to knit a doll with vitiligo, and so, Vitilinda, a pretty doll with spots and uneven skin, and an idea was born.
After the success of Vitilinda, João decided to make more of these inclusive dolls, including a doll in a wheelchair among others. The goal of knitting these dolls is to help children feel ‘normal’ and valued. João wants to improve the self-esteem of the children who live with this skin condition.
“My view of vitiligo seems to me to be very different from the general, I think it is necessary first that you have vitiligo, after this acceptance you choose what you want to do,”
“I still quote Benjamin Disraeli: Life is too short to be small, João continued.
During his interviews, he always says: “The spots I have are beautiful. What hurts me are the flaws in people’s characters.”
João recently made a doll for author Tati Santos de Oliveira, whose daughter Maria Luiza was three years old when white spots began to gradually appear on her legs, back and arms.
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