Wednesday, February 16, 2011

How Did Michael Jackson's Skin Turn White

Michael Jackson's skin turned white as a result of the common pigment losing skin disease, vitiligo, also known as leucoderma.
There are many myths surrounding the color change of Michael Jackson in the early 90s. He was widely chastised in the media for ‘turning his back on his African ancestry’. He was accused of bleaching his skin in an attempt to ‘look white’.
When the slanderous attacks became intolerable, in 1993, Michael Jackson revealed, during an Oprah show, that he had a skin disease that turned his skin white. In 1994, Michael Jackson’s dermatologist Dr.Arnold Klein testified that MJ was diagnosed with vitiligo and lupus in 1984. Though lupus erythematosus is a potentially lethal disease, luckily it was in remission in Michael. Both discoid lupus erythematosus and vitiligo can produce loss of pigmentation in the skin.

What is Vitiligo?

Vitiligo is a common skin disorder that affects 1 in 250 people world over. Half of the cases start between the ages of 10 to 30 years. Genetics plays a role in vitiligo and there is a family history of vitiligo in about 30% of patients, as in the case of Michael Jackson. Vitiligo runs in his family.

How Michael Jackson Turned White

When there were more white patches than his normal skin color and the daily chore of hours of makeup became cumbersome, MJ was given the choice of depigmenting his skin so that the color would even out. The bleaching or depigmentation of the skin was carried out under the supervision of his dermatologist. 20% monobenzylether of hydroquinone was used for this purpose. This chemical causes a permanent and irreversible loss of skin pigment and produces a chalk-white color.
The absence of the melanin pigment makes the skin more prone for sun burns, hence Michael Jackson had to wear long sleeves and hat, and, at times, cover his face when he went outdoors.

Michael Jackson's Loss of Skin Color: The Trials and Tribulations

The ghostly white color and the plastic surgeries carried out to correct an accident injury (complications of lupus also contributing?) drastically changed Michael Jackson’s features and appearance. This was when the racist slanders flooded against him in the media about how he was forgetting his roots and turning his back on his African ancestry.
On February 10, 1993 Michael Jackson revealed on the Oprah show that his skin had turned white due to vitiligo and he had to depigment the skin to even out his skin color. He dismissed the allegations that he had bleached his skin to ‘become white’.
“I’m a black American, I am proud to be a black American, I am proud of my race. I am proud of who I am. I have a lot of pride and dignity,” were his words. This did put some brake on the racist attacks on him, but unfortunately there are still many people out there who refuse to accept that Michael Jackson turned white due to the skin disease vitiligo.

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