"They teased me about how my face looked, and I felt like a pariah: over time, I came to accept it"

Mark Bennett

December 06, 2022


Being secure in one's physical appearance is very important - especially at a young age. But sometimes there are conditions that make some people stand out.

James McLeod, 40, opened up about his challenging past as a child and what he did to overcome his insecurities. It all started at the age of 18 months: a white spot appeared on James' face.

via YouTube - Truly


Concerned, James' mother took him to a doctor to find out what the blemish was: he was diagnosed with vitiligo, a condition that causes the skin to turn white due to a lack of pigment. Over time, the spot on James's face grew to cover half of his face. As a child he didn't think much of it, but as he got older he noticed that he was different from other children.

Because James's mother had never treated him differently because of his physical appearance, he thought he was just like everyone else - that is, until people started pointing out how different his skin was. "I felt different," McLeod confessed. He felt out of place when his schoolmates teased him or commented on his face. "My mother always reassured me that there was nothing wrong with me," McLeod recalled.

The behavior of his companions made James believe that he looked like a freak - so much so that he was afraid to look at his reflection in the mirror. One day, however, James decided to change his life: he was only 7 years old. He looked in the mirror and gave himself the "stamp of approval."

Suddenly, he began to feel good about himself. He felt secure in his skin - a feeling he'd never felt before. At the time, he didn't imagine that thousands of people would start following him on social media. After that day, he went to school and always greeted his classmates with a smile - which left them confused. Noticing his serenity, however, they began to treat James with respect.



Growing up, James realized there was very little support for those who suffered from vitiligo, so he decided to do something about this. He created an Instagram profile called "that-vitiligo-guy" and wrote about his life and his feelings growning up. At the time, he didn't imagine that thousands of people would start following him. He uploaded videos to spread positivity and many users loved his content. He also travelled to various schools and encouraged the students to accept their identities and to be kind to each other.

We hope Jame's life can be an example for others and teach us not to judge a book by its cover.