Perhaps you have been mistreated, bullied, or made to feel less than normal. Imagine a child being bullied because of a few white patches, something not contagious but that lasts for the rest of the child’s life.
Canadian model Chantelle Winnie developed vitiligo—white patches on the skin due to a lack of melanin—at around 4 years old. She overcame the bullying and discrimination at school and went on to become a model and speak publicly about her condition.
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A 2015 report on vitiligo in the Lancet said, “The disorder can be psychologically devastating and stigmatising, especially in dark-skinned individuals.” So when unfair and discriminatory behaviors occur to those with vitiligo would you step in to stop it?
ABC’s reality TV show “What Would You Do?” set up a social experiment in a New Jersey nail salon with an actress posing as a customer named Telisha with the common pigmentary disorder called vitiligo facing obvious discrimination.
Telisha, with the harmless cosmetic skin disease vitiligo on both arms, approaches a nail salon employee, Kristin, who also happens to be an actress.
There are two tables set up side by side, with a regular nail salon employee and an unsuspecting customer at the adjacent table. How many customers will speak up when they hear the nail salon employee reacting negatively saying, “Look at her, I am not letting her touch me!,” “It’s so ugly,” and “I heard that it is contagious.”
ICYMI: Check out our segment on vitiligo discrimination last week featuring international model Chantelle Winnie! #WWYD
“Did you see her arms?” the employee asks the lady at the next table. However, the lady, named Karen Ryers, notices but stays quiet.
Telisha then jumps into explaining her condition to the employee, “It’s vitiligo. It’s not contagious or anything like that.”
When Kristin walks away to check if someone else could step in and help Telisha, Ryers sympathizes with the woman and says, “she [employee] has no right to speak to you like like [sic]. If I were you I would just walk right out of here. I’m really sorry.”
At that moment, the ABC show host, John Quiñones, steps in to explain the experiment and asks Ryers for her opinion of the scenario. “It wasn’t nice or kind or understanding,” Ryers says. She also noticed how upsetting it was for Telisha.
John's ready. Are you? Sit back, relax, and enjoy tonight's episode at 10pm ET on ABC. You won't want to miss it! John Quiñones #WWYD #wwydabc
The cameras then roll again and the scene is reset for Telisha. However, this time, Kristin puts gloves on, saying, “I don’t want to catch that.”
Witnessing this, a frustrated customer at the next table speaks up straight away, “Come on, Oh my goodness! … Stop. … It’s a condition. It’s a rare condition. That is all it is.” At the same time as reaching out and touching and stroking Telisha’s arm, the woman adds that “her skin is so soft and beautiful.”
In the next reset of the scene, a male customer sat at the table next to Telisha. As the scenario played out, he sat silently listening as Kristin continued to show ignorance to Telisha’s skin condition. Visibly upset, he gets up to find the salon’s owner and reports her behavior in order to get her “fired.” On returning to the table, the man explains to Kristin, “It’s a just pigment disorder. It’s like a birthmark. It’s nothing to be concerned about.”
This Friday we've got another ALL-NEW hour of #WWYD w/ special guest Chantelle Winnie
After the first session of the social experiment, model Chantelle Winnie, who was also invited on the show, to watch and listen to the results, jumps in to pose as the customer, while the nail salon employee, Kristin, continues her rude behavior.
A customer who is overhearing the conversation is clearly disturbed. However, we won’t spoil it for you; watch how the customer jumps to Chantelle Winnie’s defense.
Watch the video: