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Source: Instagram

Grandfather with vitiligo knits dolls for kids with the same condition

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Jun. 12 2024, Updated 3:42 p.m. ET

Vitiligo is a long-term skin condition that causes patches of skin to lose their pigment, turning white. This condition affects about 1 to 3 percent of people and is mostly harmless physically, though it can increase sensitivity to the sun.

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However, the condition can cause significant stress for those affected. In a world that places such importance on beauty, looking different can lead to bullying and emotional distress. This is something 64-year-old Brazilian grandfather João Stanganelli Junior knows all too well.

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He's been living with the condition since it appeared in his 30s, and it has become more noticeable as he aged.

Having recently retired due to unrelated health issues, the grandfather needed a hobby to keep himself active and engaged. According to Brightside, he and his wife took up crocheting, which João picked up pretty quickly. 

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João said crocheting quickly became addictive and that once you get your fingers into the rhythm, it's hard to stop.

João’s first project was a doll for his granddaughter, and to make sure it was something she would remember him by, he added a few vitiligo patches to the doll. That's when João got the idea to make more inclusive dolls. 

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João began making dolls for children with disabilities, including dolls in wheelchairs and with vitiligo. He wanted to help children feel valued and "normal" regardless of their condition.

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Inspired by the responses he received, João started a Facebook and Instagram to display his latest works. 

“The spots I have are beautiful. What hurts me are the flaws in people’s characters,” João said. 

It's no surprise that people love João's work.

"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!"

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While another commenter added: "My daughter has this. Cannot wait to show her in the morning. Would love her to know of others with same condition." 

This article was originally published on September 17, 2019 It has since been updated.

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