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Michael Jackson Vitiligo Timeline

These pictures and the evidence for Jackson’s vitiligo have been around since the 1980s, yet I know that I’ve never seen them published in any mainstream articles regarding his illness. When discussing his vitiligo they’ll post a picture of him in maybe 1980 and then one from 1991 onwards to show the dramatic change as though he woke up one morning without any pigment. They also never show any photos of him with the patches of color he had left and try to make it seem as though he was now a universal “white” color when in reality he wasn’t. In the 2005 court case even the accuser, Gavin Arvizo, wrongly stated that he believed Jackson was one universal white color.

Michael also suffered from another autoimmune disease, discoid lupus. Suffering from one autoimmune disease increases the chances of also suffering from another. His lupus was skin specific (with some lung and rheumatic pain) and also had an impact on his overall appearance.

Coroner statement confirming the diagnosis:

Michael Jackson, vitiligo, proof, autopsy report, Michael Jackson Vitiligo Timeline

Autopsy report highlights that even at his death his skin was not evenly pigmented:

“The decedent’s overall skin has patches of light and dark pigmented areas.

There is focal depigmentation of the skin, particularly over the anterior chest and abdomen, face and arms.”

They inspected his skin under a microscope and found a reduced amount of melanocytes (the cells responsible for skin pigment), which is consistent with vitiligo:

Michael Jackson Vitiligo Timeline, proof, lupus

Joe Jackson says they knew Michael suffered from it at a young age and that it was from his side of the family, 15 July 2009

In an exclusive interview with ABC News’ Chris Connelly, Joe Jackson said his son had vitiligo, and attributed Michael Jackson’s whitened skin to the condition.

“Everybody tryin’ to make a big thing out of it… They say — ‘He try to paint his self white.’ That’s not true. Michael got vitiligo,” Joe Jackson said.

“We saw it comin’ on him… at [an] early age. You know, just a little spot. My aunt had the same thing.”

It looks as though the vitiligo started on Jackson in small spots at the very tips of his fingers before it began to spread, just as it seems to have started with his son Prince.

Michael Jackson Vitiligo Timeline, proof, lupus

The photo is from an article in “16″ magazine in 1972, when Jackson was 13

Michael Jackson Vitiligo Timeline, proof, lupus

A photo of Michael and his son Prince showing the same markings on their fingers.


Vitiligo has a genetic component; Prince has two people in his family with the disorder, his father and his great aunt. In some cases it’s been shown to have a genetic link as strong as 40% according to vitiligo researcher and dermatologist, Dr Satish Bhatia.It’s been reported that the factors which contribute to the likelihood of the disease being inherited include other relatives suffering from it, early onset in a sufferer, and the presence of another autoimmune disorder, all of which were present in Jackson’s case.

Stress can also be an aggravating factor in the disease and since Jackson’s death it seems as though Prince’s vitiligo has spread further, though he was showing markings from as early as the age of about 3, and Jackson’s make up artist Karen Faye stated that Prince had been diagnosed with it in 2008.

More photos of Jackson from around 12-15

Michael Jackson Vitiligo Timeline, proof, lupus
Michael Jackson Vitiligo Timeline, proof, lupus
Michael Jackson Vitiligo Timeline, proof, lupus
Michael Jackson vitiligo

Around 16 here

michael jackson, vitiligo
Michael Jackson Vitiligo Timeline, proof, lupus
vitiligo photos
Michael Jackson Vitiligo Timeline, proof, lupus

Michael Jackson Vitiligo Timeline, proof, lupus

On the Triumph tour in 1981: his stage make up runs and you can see the areas of depigmentation on his skin. He was already wearing a lot of make up to cover it. After the Oprah interview in 1993 a lot of people asked – why did Michael not just wear dark make up to cover up his vitiligo? He’d actually already been wearing dark make up to cover his skin for years.

Michael Jackson Vitiligo Timeline, proof, lupus

Friends of Jackson have said that he began wearing the white glove to cover up the spread of the disorder on his hands, as vitiligo tends to affect the extremities like fingers, hands, feet, armpits, and genitals first.

Michael Jackson Vitiligo Timeline, proof, lupus

Around 1984

Michael Jackson Vitiligo Timeline, proof, lupus

The only editing on this photo was lightening the area where his hand had been in the shade to show how uneven his skin was. In private Jackson didn’t wear much make up.


Michael Jackson Vitiligo Timeline, proof, lupus
Michael Jackson Vitiligo Timeline, proof, lupus
vitiligo, michael jackson
Michael Jackson Vitiligo Timeline, proof, lupus

Someone who visited Hayvenhurt in the mid 80s commented that his nose was darker than the rest of his face and they couldn’t understand why this was. You can also see the vitiligo over his ear.

Michael Jackson Vitiligo Timeline, proof, lupus

Victory Tour, his hand

Michael Jackson Vitiligo Timeline, proof, lupus

Victory Tour glove stained with the make up he used to cover it

Michael Jackson Vitiligo Timeline, proof, lupus

Michael Jackson Vitiligo Timeline, proof, lupus

He’s wearing light reflective make up here which makes the areas of his face with less pigment stand out under a camera flash

Michael Jackson Vitiligo Timeline, proof, lupus
Michael Jackson Vitiligo Timeline, proof, lupus

Bad Tour from 1987-1989, his hands again

vitiligo, michael jackson
Michael Jackson Vitiligo Timeline, proof, lupus
Michael Jackson Vitiligo Timeline, proof, lupus

Michael Jackson Vitiligo Timeline, proof, lupus

Two stills from a tour video, the first shows two large white patches on his arms and the second shows the large white area below his wrist, link to the footage here.

Michael Jackson Vitiligo Timeline, proof, lupus
Michael Jackson Vitiligo Timeline, proof, lupus

More from footage, the spotting on his hands is very visible here

Michael Jackson Vitiligo Timeline, proof, lupus

Bad Tour without make up

Michael Jackson Vitiligo Timeline, proof, lupus
Michael Jackson Vitiligo Timeline, proof, lupus
Michael Jackson Vitiligo Timeline, proof, lupus Michael Jackson vitiligo

Wearing full make up at an awards show and for the video for Liberian Girl in 1989. You can see his skin in these photos looks even and dark but in reality it was not, he had lost most of the pigment in his face already.

Michael Jackson Vitiligo Timeline, proof, lupus

Michael Jackson Vitiligo Timeline, proof, lupus

The reason why he bandaged/taped his hand, you can see discoloration around the edges

Michael Jackson Vitiligo Timeline, proof, lupus

The Way You Make Me Feel set picture

Michael Jackson vitiligo

His hands:

Michael Jackson vitiligo

On the set of Black or White in 1991:

Michael Jackson Vitiligo Timeline, proof, lupus

In the deposition in front of the Grand Jury in 1994 his doctors stated that he had only begun using creams to even out his skin in 1990, but  as you can see, a year later and his skin is still uneven. Depigmentation and the creams used are not the magical treatment people imagine where you can entirely change your shade with a few simple applications; if it were this easy Michael Jackson would not be the only person on this planet who has managed to achieve this effect.

As one vitiligo sufferer Joyce Frame has said, “I remember hearing for the first time the rumors that he was bleaching himself white; I thought that was crazy. I knew personally how difficult it was to try to use depigmentation as a treatment for Vitiligo so I couldn’t imagine how someone could actually bleach their entire body. I asked my dermatologist at one of my yearly visits in the late eighties if she knew anything about Michael Jackson’s skin color and she told me that it was known by most in the dermatology community that he had Vitiligo.”

Another sufferer, TV presenter Lee Thomas has said, “and that’s another thing about bleaching… if I have to bleach, I have to bleach for the rest of my life. I have to continue to bleach those spots as they come back.” The presenter challenges Thomas, saying that Jackson had been found to have bleaching creams at the time of his death, something which again was stated in the depositions back in 1994 and was not a secret, and Thomas responds, “one of my members in my support group did have [to bleach too.] She bleaches her skin and she has to continue to do it, but she doesn’t do it as much, but I don’t know what that process involves, but I do know that the pigment fights to come back and you have to continue to bleach. Does that mean it’s something you have to put on every day? I don’t know. I’m not a doctor, so I don’t know, but I will say that if you start bleaching the pigment out of your skin it’s a process that never ends. You bleach until you decide not to anymore and let the pigment come in, or until you die.”

Michael Jackson Vitiligo Timeline, proof, lupus
Michael Jackson Vitiligo Timeline, proof, lupus

Close up of his hands

Michael Jackson vitiligo

Michael Jackson Vitiligo Timeline, proof, lupus

They Don’t Care About Us in 1996, over his arms and chest.

Michael Jackson Vitiligo Timeline, proof, lupus
Michael Jackson vitiligo

The side of his face and his neck

Michael Jackson Vitiligo Timeline, proof, lupus
Michael Jackson Vitiligo Timeline, proof, lupus
Michael Jackson Vitiligo Timeline, proof, lupus

Michael Jackson Vitiligo Timeline, proof, lupus
Michael Jackson Vitiligo Timeline, proof, lupus
vitiligo, michael jackson
Michael Jackson vitiligo

All over his arms:

Michael Jackson Vitiligo Timeline, proof, lupus

And then recently photos from around 2008, his wrists

Michael Jackson Vitiligo Timeline, proof, lupus
Michael Jackson Vitiligo Timeline, proof, lupus

When he had the spider bite in 2002 he had photos taken as evidence and they also revealed how blotchy the skin on his legs was.

Michael Jackson vitiligo timeline, spider bite
Michael Jackson vitiligo timeline, spider bite

There are photos and videos from these time periods where his skin looks even but keep in mind that he wore a lot of heavy water proof make up when he was in public, that one of the traits of vitiligo is spots shrinking and changing shape and position (this can be seen on the markings on his wrists), and that in the 80s he had also tried treatments like PUVA to gain his pigment back, but these treatments had not been successful (something TV presenter Lee Thomas has also experienced, where he stated they were successful momentarily for him, but eventually he needed to have these treatments up to 3 times a week and they just weren’t worth it for the limited effect they had), something that many people aren’t aware about.

This was his make up case backstage of the Victory tour in 1984

Michael Jackson Vitiligo Timeline, proof, lupus

The makeup that you can see in his kit is called Dermablend.

This is a high-pigment makeup created to cover burns, scars and skin discolorations. Many people with vitiligo use this product, it’s sort of a cover stick for the entire face, but because it makes the entire surface of your skin one color, you have to use a few shades to avoid looking mask-like and it is very difficult to achieve a natural look. You also have to provide color for everything else – lips, eye lashes, blush, eyeshadow.

Michael used more and more stylized makeup as a result – a luxury most people don’t have. Why pretend you are not wearing any when you can change your style to incorporate it? As his skin lightened more evenly, he used lighter and lighter shades of the product (which comes in tones for a variety of skin colors but can go to a very very fair as well) to match his current overall pigmentation. It’s such a high intensity use product that many cross-dressers and female impersonators use Dermablend to cover heavy beard shadow, heavy blocked-out eyebrows and other masculine traits not easy to cover with drug store pancake or liquid foundations.

Sandi Hammons, Owner of Premier Pigments, a specialist dermatology make up brand that Jackson also used, slammed reports that he didn’t want to be Black, July 7th 2009

Permanent cosmetic pioneer, Sandi Hammons, and her company, Premier Pigments, the manufacturer of the permanent makeup worn by the late Michael Jackson, are speaking out against widespread assertions that “Michael Jackson didn’t want to be black.”

Arlington, TX (PRWEB Reprinted) July 7, 2009 – Permanent cosmetic pioneer and celebrity permanent makeup artist, Sandi Hammons, and her company, Premier Pigments, the manufacturer of the permanent makeup worn by the late Michael Jackson, are speaking out against widespread assertions that “Michael Jackson didn’t want to be black.”

“That is so far from the truth,” says Hammons. “Anyone making those assertions obviously doesn’t understand the disease Michael suffered from or the treatment options available to him.”

“There are even some medical professionals who still consider the disease to be nothing more than a cosmetic nuisance,” said Hammons, “But the truth is, many people diagnosed with the disease suffer greatly. A deep sense of shame and hopelessness (including depression and suicidal thoughts) along with a preoccupation with appearance and available treatments are really not uncommon. Vitiligo is especially traumatic for darker skinned individuals, as the contrast between pigmented and depigmented skin can be quite drastic.”

Jackson was widely criticized for his use of bleaching medications and chemical peels. “What people don’t understand is that there are few, if any, treatments that are effective, especially for widespread cases like Michael’s.”

There are three common types of treatment for vitiligo: 1. Repigmentation as in the case of PUVA and UV lights (Typically ineffective on widespread cases) 2. Micropigmentation (i.e. cosmetic tattooing – recommended on small areas that accept cosmetic pigment) 3. Depigmentation, as in the case of using bleaching creams to remove smaller pigmented areas (typically recommended for widespread cases similar to Jackson’s).

Vitiligo affects 1% to 2% of the population. It is estimated that over 50 million people suffer from this little known and often misunderstood disease. The precise cause of the disease is complex and not fully understood. There is some evidence suggesting that it is caused by a combination of autoimmune, genetic and environmental factors. “Stress is definitely a contributing factor,” said Hammons. “Changing skin colors add even more stress, particularly if vitiligo develops on visible areas of the body, such as the face, hands, arms, feet, or on the genitals.”

In some cultures there is a stigma attached to having vitiligo. Those affected with the condition are sometimes thought to be evil or diseased and are sometimes shunned by others in the community. People with vitiligo may feel depressed because of this stigma or because their appearance has changed dramatically.

Hammons has great compassion for Jackson and his battle with the disease. “To deal with the psychological impact of this disease is significant; to deal with the very public and cruel opinions of others must have been overwhelming.”

“Trauma drives addiction,” adds Hammons. “In my opinion, those who judged him unknowingly contributed to his preoccupation with appearance, his eventual addiction to cosmetic surgery and prescription drugs, and ultimately his early death. We all need to have more compassion for those who suffer from this baffling and misunderstood disease.”

From the book, The White African American Body by Charles D. Martin:

“For more than 200 years natural philosophers, scientists and showmen have exhibited the bodies of African Americans with white or gradually whitening skin in taverns, dime museums, and circus sideshows. The term White Negro has served to describe individuals born with albinism as well as those who have vitiligo…”

Only just recently people with vitiligo were regarded as “freaks” and were used in the circus as side show attractions, they were called “white negros,” “zebra people,” “leopard people,” “piebalds.” Perhaps it isn’t surprising then that Michael felt such kinship with the life of Joseph Merrick. Around the mid 80s he’d been reported as developing a sudden fascination for old medical textbooks about skin disorders which is also when he developed a kinship for Merrick; it seems likely he understood the circus attraction those with vitiligo had suffered many years earlier, as they were included in those text books as such, as medical curiosities.

This history also reveals the genetic component of the disease, as many of the vitiligo sufferers were families who suffered from the disorder and toured together. It has been said that early onset of the disease increases the likelihood of the disease having a genetic basis, which seems consistent with Michael and his son Prince, and with these other sufferers. Some were even brutally “captured” after tribes of “spotted negroes” had been seen together and it was even believed there may have been an entire “race” of people with vitiligo:

The Spotted Boy was discovered in Caffraria, South Africa, by a party of American Travellers, in the year 1868. There’s nothing know of the parentage of this boy. The Kaffrs, a tribe of negroes, who had possession of him, stated that they had discovered a spotted tribe of negroes in the interior of Africa, and that in pursuit of them they killed several and captured this boy. By some he is supposed to be a freak of nature, born of negro parents; while others think there may be a spotted race of people in the vast unexplored regions of Africa. He is now about twelve years old, large of his age, well proportioned, intelligent, and is mottled all over the body white, black and brown, the white spots being of as delicate a purity as the skin of the fairest Caucasian; this variegation extending to the hair, and even to the iris of the eye. The left eyelash is white, ant the other black. Apart from the ordinary curiosity attaching to such a phenomenon, it is scientifically interesting as an example of nature’s caprice in dermatologied development.

Michael Jackson, freakshow, piebalds, zebra peopleMichael Jackson, freakshow, piebalds, zebra peopleMichael Jackson, freakshow, piebalds, zebra people

Hundreds of years later and it seems this “freak show” component to them still persists.

Michael Jackson vitiligo timeline

Cicely Tyson, a friend of Michael’s since he was a kid, has said that the reason he began to wear the white glove was because of his vitiligo; he started wearing the glove in 1979

Michael Jackson’s single white glove was his trademark — an iconic image for a performer whose career constantly set, then redefined, pop culture trends but it also was an early effort to mask a skin condition that he would struggle with for the rest of his life, say some who were close to him.

Actress Cicely Tyson, a friend of Jackson’s, said the two shared a fashion designer in the 1980s.

“All of a sudden, he said, ‘I’m doing this glove for Michael,’ ” she said. “Michael was beginning to develop the vitiligo and it started on his hand.

“The glove was to cover the vitiligo; that’s how that glove came into being.”

The glove design and reason for it were not just hearsay for Tyson, she said.

“I was there when he was creating it,” she told CNN’s Don Lemon.

Taiwanese fan Mrs Ma on befriending Michael, confirms the white glove story:

Michael had confided to Mrs. Ma things like that his iconic sequined glove,was first used to hide his skin problem, vitiligo. It had first appeared on his hand, and the glove had surprisingly become his signature trademark.

Tom Chiarella, Esquire Magazine, 2009

I never liked the glove, although when I saw his monstrous hand, I got it. And I admired what he’d done to cover it up. It was never clear to me if that hurt or not, but I imagine it did. Think about the beauty of that. Putting sequins on your open wounds. Think about the entire world staring at the one thing that makes you feel most ugly.

Rhythm Of The Tide

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6 Responses to Michael Jackson Vitiligo Timeline

  1. Eva November 30, 2012 at 11:03 am #

    I agree that Michael had vitilago, I think the point most people are trying to make when they comment on the way his appearance changed is the fact that his “features” changed considerably over this period of time and whereas vitilago affects your skin pigmentation it certainly doesn’t alter the shape of your mouth, cheekbones or nose, nor does it give you a cleft chin.

    • lacienega November 30, 2012 at 7:05 pm #

      Michael’s mouth and cheekbones never changed.

      He’s acknowledged the cleft and the nose, it also seems likely at some point, my guess is around 2000, he had a minor facelift, as the scars behind his ears in his autopsy report showed.

  2. Tina November 22, 2012 at 5:54 pm #

    Many people have this skin disease , tell you story about vitiligo 25june.org

  3. event planning new york April 12, 2012 at 8:13 am #

    As we all know Michael helped a lot of children because he lost his childhood and he wanted all children to have a happy childhood, but as far as I know Michael didn’t show any support for people who have vitiligo. I mean he had vitiligo and he knew how does it feel to have this kind of diseases and what I’m trying to say is that he knew how does they feel and how much they need support .. maybe psychological support, but he didn’t. my question is why he didn’t ?

    • lacienega April 15, 2012 at 9:01 pm #

      A dermatologist says Michael did actually want to hold a conference for vitiligo at NL but the plans didn’t materialize:

      Nordlund never treated Jackson but said the singer’s use of the gloves and lipstick was consistent with the patterns of vitiligo, since the spots frequently first appear on the hands and face, including the lips. He said Jackson’s representatives once reached out to several dermatologists, including him, to hold a symposium on vitiligo at the Neverland Ranch, but those plans never materialized.

      http://edition.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/07/06/skin.color.vitiligo/index.html

      He did donate to lupus charities:

      http://www.gettyimages.com/Search/Search.aspx?EventId=2550222

      And one of them thanked him after his death, I have a note about it somewhere.

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