Vitiligo is a long-term skin disorder that causes skin patches to lose their white pigment. The disease that impacts about 1% to 3% of people is mainly physically harmless, although it can make people more susceptible to the sun.
But unsurprisingly, for those with it, the situation can trigger a lot of stress. In a world that places such importance on beauty, for those with the disorder, looking different can lead to bullying and upset. João Stanganelli Junior, a 64-year-old Brazilian grandfather, understands this all too well.
The disease emerged in the 1930s and Stanganelli Junior has lived with it his whole life. It has gradually gotten more noticeable as he got older.
Due to unrelated health problems, the grandpa lately retired and needed a hobby to keep himself active. He and his wife took up crocheting, which Sanganelli picked up fairly quickly.
Stanganelli said crocheting rapidly became addictive and that it’s difficult to stop when you get your fingers in the rhythm.
Stanganelli’s first project was a doll for his niece, and he added a few patches of vitiligo to the doll to create something she would remember him by. That’s when Stanganelli got the idea of making dolls more inclusive.
Stanganelli began producing more dolls for disabled children, including a wheelchair doll and vitiligo dolls. He created the dolls to help children, regardless of their situation, feel “normal” and valued.
It’s not surprising that people love the work of João.
I “Have a son with vitiligo and put up with a lot of mean comments throughout his childhood,” one user wrote. “This is very sweet of you to do for these kids!”