Stanganelli Jr has been living with vitiligo since his 30s and he has taken it upon himself to have the kids feel represented and create a more inclusive environment with his crochet dolls.
At a time when most toy stores globally are stocked with templatized dolls in the shelves that look almost exactly the same, it is a sad sight to see there are no toys for kids who might have medical conditions, making them feel left out.
And that's when 64-year-old Brazilian grandfather João Stanganelli Junior decided to change the narrative around this and it is the most beautiful thing you will see today.
Vitiligo is a medical condition that causes the loss of skin color in blotches. And usually, the color of hair and skin is determined by melanin and vitiligo is caused by a loss of pigment in the skin, due to destruction of pigment-forming cells known as melanocytes.
Stanganelli Jr has been living with Vitiligo since his 30s and he has taken it upon himself to have the kids feel more represented and create a more inclusive environment.
“At first my fingers and back hurt a lot, today no more,” João told Bored Panda. I’m not yet retired, I still keep up my old work with food, but much less intensely. At the moment I spend 90% of my time with the dolls. I have many orders.”
It all started when he and his wife began crocheting dolls with vitiligo patches. Although he claims it was quite difficult in the early days, he soon found the knack and started crocheting dolls easily.
After photos of his work began taking over social media, many personally requested him for a custom-made doll for their kids. While some wanted dolls in wheelchairs, there were also others who wanted it with hearing aids.
“My view of vitiligo seems to me to be very different from the general, I think it is necessary first that you have vitiligo, after this acceptance you choose what you want to do,” João continued. “I still quote Benjamin Disraeli: ‘Life is too short to be small.'”
And that's not all. His dolls have become so popular that he also crocheted for author Tati Santos de Oliveira, whose daughter Maria Luiza was diagnosed with vitiligo when she was three years old.
Oliveira said that she wanted to find literature that could make her daughter feel validated and represented. However, there was nothing she could find.
“When I learned of the diagnosis, I sought, in addition to treatment, publications for her to feel represented,” she said. “I did not find in the market any work on the subject for children. Then it clicked!” And then, she met Stanganelli.
Oliveira later wrote ‘A Menina Feita de Nuvens‘ or ‘The Girl Made of Clouds.’ “The book tells the story of Maria Luiza and her special secret. She has spots made of clouds. It is a way to treat the acceptance of the disease with delicacy.” João loves the book and told us that it is “a great information tool for parents and children about vitiligo, so I always make it known.”
Kudos to all the talented artists who are trying to bring a positive change in our society.