My name is Danielle Wheeler, and I’ve got spots. I like to call my vitiligo patches “spots,” because to me, that's what they look like: beautiful spots of white and tan skin.
I started noticing my spots about eight years ago. The first one was under my armpit, and I was convinced that I’d cut myself shaving. Months later, I noticed my hands were losing pigment. I was sure I must have gotten some sort of chemical on them, until I did more research and realized that the spots were vitiligo.
Coincidentally, I was babysitting for a dermatologist at the time, and she confirmed my suspicions and wrote me a prescription for some topical creams. They were gloopy, uncomfortable, and ineffective. I honestly found it emotionally exhausting to try to repigment my skin.
One of the key moments in my journey with vitiligo happened when I was babysitting. A little girl came up to me at a park. She was friends with the kids I was nannying for at the time. She looked at my skin and asked me about it. I had been struggling with how my skin looked, but I wanted to create a positive and educational moment for her. I told her my spots were called vitiligo, and that it was like my body had given itself a tattoo. The girl then told me how much she liked them and started playing the cloud game with my spots. “This one looks like a flower!" she said, thus forever changing the way I viewed my skin.
It was then that I first had the idea to write a book about vitiligo. I wanted to create a narrative I wasn’t seeing at the time — the idea of acceptance. I was seeing tons of information about treatments and how to conceal your vitiligo, but nothing about embracing it.
A few years (and many spots) later, I wrote a poem on June 25, 2018, for World Vitiligo Day. I posted it on social media and several people told me I should turn it into a book, so I did! After finding an illustrator and setting up a GoFundMe account, I was able to raise the money for the first round of printing.
I sold out of the book’s first printing in a few short months, and now I’m on my second printing of “I’ve Got Spots!” The project is self-published and self-distributed, and I can proudly say you can find copies of this children’s book all over the world. I look forward to creating more characters and content that celebrates vitiligo awareness.
My Perspective articles discuss vitiligo from a specific point of view. My Perspective articles don’t reflect the opinions of MyVitiligoTeam staff, medical experts, partners, advertisers, or sponsors. MyVitiligoTeam content isn’t intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.