Photographer With Vitiligo Captures Stunning Photos of Women With The Same Condition

Get the latest from The Mind Unleashed in your inbox. Sign up right here.

(TMU) – Vitiligo is a pigmentation disorder where the skin’s melanin (color pigment cells) are lost or destroyed. As a result, white patches start appearing on the skin in one area or all over the body. Patches may join together with time, creating larger patches. Hair, on the head and body, can also be affected.

There is no known cause or cure for Vitiligo and it affects people of all ages, ethnicity and color. Although not proven, Vitiligo may have an autoimmune or genetic link as it sometimes ‘runs in families’. While not affecting physical health, vitiligo can lead to serious psychological, social and emotional problems and impact the quality of life considerably in this regard.

Photographer Elisabeth Van Aalderen graduated from the ‘Utrecht School of Arts’ and after working in the photography department of ‘Fotovakschool’ in Amsterdam for a year, she then worked in the fashion industry as a stylist and art director. Eventually, she fulfilled her dream of becoming a photographer and never looked back.

At the age of 25, Elisabeth developed vitiligo and struggled to accept the fact that there is no cure. Of the early days, she said:

“I started to get tiny white spots on my left hand. After a few weeks, the small spots turned into one bigger spot. That’s when it all started. Today, 60% of my skin is covered in vitiligo.

“When I was diagnosed, I started skin therapy: creams, lightening-therapy, a gluten-free diet, a vegetarian diet, no sun, a lot of sun, yoga. You name it, I tried it all.

“Nothing worked. Eventually, I stopped these treatments because I didn’t want my life to be like that. I couldn’t change the fact that I have vitiligo, so I started to embrace it.”

View this post on Instagram

Throwback to this shoot with power woman Charlotte @dotted_dots. Developing vitiligo around 16 years old, she went trough a rough time. Luckily the bullies didn’t get to her in the long run. Now she is more confident than ever, proudly showing off her skin. I wish I could be as confident as her. A true inspiration. Make up by the lovely @xiuyun.yu Special thanks to @dma_models — If you want to get featured in this series, send me a DM, or press the link in bio. #photoshoot #elisabethva #love #lucky #selfacceptance #photography #vitiligo #vitiligomodel #model #vitiligoworld #showUs #vitiligogirl #vitiligopride #vitiligonation #vitiligoawareness #vitiligobeauty #vitiligopeople #vitiligolove #vitiligoproud #photooftheday #livingdappled #afvitiligo

A post shared by Elisabeth Van Aalderen (@elisabethva) on

By accepting and embracing vitiligo, ultimately enabled Elizabeth to help other women embrace the skin they’re in with her photography series Shades of Pale.

A few years ago, Elizabeth was approached by a girl who told her: “I really love your skin, it’s like your own unique tattoo. You should be proud.’’

This random comment inspired her Shades of Pale photography series focused on people with vitiligo.

Many people don’t know what vitiligo is, despite the fact that 60 million people worldwide live with the condition, Elizabeth aims to change that by creating awareness through her Shades of Pale series.

“During my day-to-day job as a photographer, people asked me a lot of questions about my skin. This made me wonder: why not use these two experiences, photography and my skin condition? Photography is [a wonderful way] to document and celebrate the vitiligo body. It is an ode to its beauty and uniqueness.”

Elisabeth explains why she believes there’s a reason she developed the skin condition: “It’s my biggest and most difficult journey of self-acceptance.”

“I also want to tell the story of strong women that celebrate their beauty which, in this case, distinguishes them from others. I want to portray women who embrace their skin. I don’t want people to look at vitiligo as something ‘out of the box’.

“When it comes to beauty, I believe there is no box. All types of beauty need to be inclusive. Beauty can be whatever you want it to be.”

View this post on Instagram

Thursday the 26th of March there will be a small exhibition at Brinkhuis Laren. Most definitely this one of Padminie will be part of it. Put it in your calendar as more info will follow soon! Beautiful @padminie.gajadhar 🌗 such a gracious and powerful woman. I am so grateful she let me take her picture. —- Makeup by @muahsalma —- If you want to get featured in this series, send me a DM, or press the link in bio. —- #photoshoot #elisabethva #love #lucky #selfacceptance #photography #vitiligo #vitiligomodel #model #monki #monkistyle #yesmonkistyle #vitiligoworld #showUs #vitiligogirl #vitiligopride #vitiligonation #vitiligoawareness #vitiligo beauties #vitiligopeople #vitiligolove #vitiligoproud #photooftheday #afvitiligo

A post shared by Elisabeth Van Aalderen (@elisabethva) on

“I have photographed women from all over the world who come in all kinds of shapes and colors,” she said. “The ages differ from 20 to 50 years old. For them, this experience wasn’t only a way of expressing themselves creatively. It has also been incredibly therapeutic.”

Beautiful as the women featured in her series are, around 90 percent have never been photographed showing their skin in quite this way.

“They really stepped out of their comfort zone. It feels very rewarding that the photoshoot contributed to their self-confidence,” Elisabeth elaborated. “For many women I have portrayed, it was a process of healing and acceptance.”

View this post on Instagram

Tonight ill be at the radio show ‘Met het oog op morgen’ @nporadio1 @nos to talk about my project ‘SHADES OF PALE’. Tune in at 23:00! Beautiful @padminie.gajadhar 🌗 such a gracious and powerful woman. I am so grateful she let me take her picture. —- Makeup by @muahsalma —- If you want to get featured in this series, send me a DM, or press the link in bio. —- #photoshoot #elisabethva #love #lucky #selfacceptance #photography #vitiligo #vitiligomodel #model #monki #monkistyle #yesmonkistyle #vitiligoworld #showUs #vitiligogirl #vitiligopride #vitiligonation #vitiligoawareness #vitiligo beauties #vitiligopeople #vitiligolove #vitiligoproud #photooftheday #afvitiligo #methetoogopmorgen #npo1 #nos

A post shared by Elisabeth Van Aalderen (@elisabethva) on

“It is wonderful that there is such a big community on social media which has made me able to connect with all these beautiful individuals. It has been such a positive journey, for me and for the ones I portrayed.”

While there still is no real cure for vitiligo, the best fix would surely be for society to accept that we are all different and embrace the unique beauty brought on by the condition.