Lego Introduces First Character With Vitiligo

Marcia Frellick

November 07, 2022

The spotlight continues to shine on vitiligo as Lego has released the first-ever mini-character featuring the hallmark dark and light skin patches of the disease.

The character appears with the customizable array of players to assemble for a table football team. (The character appears in the linked image, in the front wearing a red uniform, third from the right.)

It's the latest representation of the disease as toymakers diversify their lines.

In May of this year, Mattel released a Ken doll with vitiligo after a Barbie with vitiligo was released in 2020. Rainbow High and other toy makers also have character versions.

The Lego addition follows a big summer medically for vitiligo as the first treatment was approved for repigmentation. In July, a cream formulation of ruxolitinib (Opzelura), a Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor, became the first repigmentation treatment approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for nonsegmental vitiligo, the most common form of the disease.

Vitiligo is estimated to affect 1.9 million to 2.8 million adults in the United States and more than 100 million people worldwide. It cuts across races and genders and can be psychologically painful for many who live with it.

John E. Harris, MD, director of the Vitiligo Clinic and Research Center at UMass Chan Medical School, writes about the Lego character in his blog "Speaking of Vitiligo…"  saying, "I could not be more excited."

"This new minifigure also serves as a way to educate both children and adults who are not familiar with vitiligo about the disease," Harris writes.

He noted that until recently vitiligo representation in kids' toys has been limited. "By adding diversity such as representations of vitiligo in toys, it can help remove stigmas associated with vitiligo and give children more options that they can relate to," he writes.

Erika Page of Richmond, Virginia, who founded and edits the vitiligo blog "Living Dappled," told Medscape Medical News she was thrilled to see the new Lego character.

"Growing up I didn't know anyone who looked like me, let alone a toy or a character," she said. The message the representations send is important not just for the kids but for the parents of kids with vitiligo who want to help their kids in any way they can, she added.

Page was diagnosed with vitiligo at age 7 and struggled emotionally in her high school and college years when she often looked in the mirror, saw "giraffe-like" spots, and cried. Over time she lost 100% of her pigment to the condition and today at age 33, lives with universal vitiligo or overall very pale skin.

She founded the Living Dappled blog six years ago to help people with the disease feel less alone. The Lego character will also help with that, she said.

"Growing up with vitiligo was so isolating and you felt so different," Page said. "Today we see billboards and models and dolls and now Legos that look like us. I hope this is a first of many to come for Lego."

Harris and Page declared no relevant financial relationships.

Marcia Frellick is a freelance journalist based in Chicago. She has previously written for the Chicago Tribune, Science News, and, and was an editor at the Chicago Sun-Times, the Cincinnati Enquirer, and the St. Cloud (Minnesota) Times. Follow her on Twitter at @mfrellick

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