Life

Retired man with vitiligo knits dolls to boost kids' confidence

September 20th, 2019

Living with vitiligo isn’t easy. It doesn’t just change the way your skin looks but it also changes the way you see yourself. It can eat up your confidence and make you want to hide under layers of clothes and even makeup.

João Stanganelli, 64 years old, started showing signs of vitiligo about 26 years ago.

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Instagram/joaostanganelli Source: Instagram/joaostanganelli

Realizing how the condition can lower one’s self-esteem, he decided to find a means to help kids diagnosed with the condition. That’s when he started to learn to crochet.

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Instagram/joaostanganelli Source: Instagram/joaostanganelli

João initially worked in the gastronomy industry but he semi-retired after experiencing several health issues. To keep himself busy, he and his wife turned to crochet.

At first, the couple had a hard time. His fingers and back used to hurt a lot but eventually, he got used to it. He even found the activity quite addictive. Even if he developed some callouses on his hands, he found it hard to stop.

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Instagram/joaostanganelli Source: Instagram/joaostanganelli

The very first doll he made was for his granddaughter.

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Instagram/joaostanganelli Source: Instagram/joaostanganelli

He created the doll with patches that looked like his skin. He did it to make the doll look more like him.

This is where an idea began- he wanted to make more inclusive crochet dolls.

João started making dolls that were designed to help kids feel normal despite the health condition they are forced to live with. Some of the dolls had vitiligo while others came with canes. He even made dolls without hair.

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Instagram/joaostanganelli Source: Instagram/joaostanganelli

Despite all the hours, time, and hard work he’s investing in the dolls, he never found the process exhausting and frustrating. In fact, he considers it rewarding and fulfilling.

João aims to end the stigma that goes with vitiligo and other health conditions that physically changes a person.

And for him, the best way to do that is to promote inclusion. By creating dolls, he plans to bring a smile to as many children as possible.

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Instagram/joaostanganelli Source: Instagram/joaostanganelli

Vitiligo is a condition wherein white patches of skin develop in various parts of the body. It happens when melanocytes, the cells that create the pigment or color of the skin, are damaged and destroyed.

There’s no known cause for this condition but it’s believed to be an autoimmune disease. It develops after a person’s immune system attacks the skin’s melanocytes.

Vitiligo can happen to anyone, regardless of age or gender. It may run in families, too. Parents with vitiligo are more likely to have kids with the same skin condition.

However, not all kids will develop it even if their parents have it.

The right treatment for vitiligo depends on several factors, like the number of white patches and the preference of the affected person. Available treatment options include creams, oral medications, UVA treatment, skin grafts, and tattooing the affected areas.

In some cases, patients are advised to use cosmetics to camouflage the white patches and make the skin appear more natural. The use of sunscreens is also highly encouraged to prevent vitiligo from getting worse.

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Source: Facebook/Amigurumi da Lena

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