Elisabeth Van Aalderen had a lot going for her. After getting her diploma from the Utrecht School of Arts, she applied to the photography department of the Fotovakschool in Amsterdam. Since then, she has worked in the fashion industry as a stylist and art director but eventually quit her job to pursue her dreams of becoming a photographer. However, about 8 years ago, when she was 25, something came up that tried to slow Elisabeth down. Vitiligo. A condition in which a lack of melanin leads to developing white patches on the skin.

"I started to get tiny white spots on my left hand," Elisabeth told Bored Panda. "After a few weeks, the small spots turned into one bigger spot. That’s when it all started. Today, 60% of my skin is covered in vitiligo."

Most people who live with this condition have these patches on multiple areas of their bodies.

More info: elisabethva.comInstagram

#1

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"She couldn’t wear her spots with more pride. Such an inspiring woman"

elisabethva Report

"When I was diagnosed, I started skin therapy: creams, lightening-therapy, a gluten-free diet, a vegetarian diet, no sun, a lot of sun, yoga. You name it, I tried it all," Elisabeth said. "Nothing worked. Eventually, I stopped these treatments because I didn’t want my life to be like that. I couldn't change the fact that I have vitiligo, so I started to embrace it."

The photographer believes that she has vitiligo for a reason. "It’s my biggest and most difficult journey of self-acceptance."

#2

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"I feel so incredibly honored to photograph Sharista and just cant get over how beautiful she is, inside and out. Such a kind soul and a fearless power woman. She inspires so many out there with"

elisabethva Report

A couple of years ago, a girl randomly came up to her and said, 'I really love your skin, it's like your own unique tattoo. You should be proud.' This experience has inspired Elisabeth to create a series, dedicated exclusively to people like her. "During my day-to-day job as a photographer, people asked me a lot of questions about my skin. This made me wonder: why not use these two experiences, photography and my skin condition? Photography is [a wonderful way] to document and celebrate the vitiligo body. It is an ode to its beauty and uniqueness."

Elisabeth called her project Shades of Pale and set out to spread awareness about this condition. "About 60 million people around the globe have vitiligo, yet there are a lot of people who don't know what it is," she explained. "I also want to tell the story of strong women that celebrate their beauty which, in this case, distinguishes them from others. I want to portray women who embrace their skin. I don’t want people to look at vitiligo as something ‘out of the box’. When it comes to beauty, I believe there is no box. All types of beauty need to be inclusive. Beauty can be whatever you want it to be."

"I have photographed women from all over the world who come in all kinds of shapes and colors, " Elisabeth said. "The ages differ from 20 to 50 years old. For them, this experience wasn’t only a way of expressing themselves creatively. It has also been incredibly therapeutic. About 90% of them hadn’t been in front of a camera. They really stepped out of their comfort zone. It feels very rewarding that the photoshoot contributed to their self-confidence. For many women I have portrayed, it was a process of healing and acceptance. It is wonderful that there is such a big community on social media which has made me able to connect with all these beautiful individuals. It has been such a positive journey, for me and for the ones I portrayed."

So far, there's no known way to prevent or cure the condition. Doctors usually offer to improve the appearance of affected skin with cosmetics and corticosteroid creams. Other common solutions include re-pigmenting the white skin using UV light therapy or lightening the skin in unaffected areas or a skin graft.

#4

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"Today I photographed Emely for the vitiligo project. She is such a stunning and confident Cape Verdean woman!"

elisabethva Report

#7

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"I had the privilege to photograph my 3rd subject of the vitiligo project Marie Lenander. I feel so honored she traveled to Amsterdam to take part of this. This project is all about body positivity and to celebrate our uniqueness and embracing the vitiligo body and its esthetic.


For me it was also very special to get up close and personal with someone who had the same struggles as me, and as many young woman all over the world who are trying to fit in. Why should you even want to fit in, if you were born to be unique?"

elisabethva Report

#9

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"She couldn’t wear her spots with more pride. Such an inspiring woman"

elisabethva Report

#10

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"Beautiful Padminie Gajadhar such a gracious and powerful woman. I am so grateful she let me take her picture"

elisabethva Report

#11

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"When coffee compliments your skin."

elisabethva Report

#15

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"Sometimes you meet people who fill your hart with joy. Anna flew in from Budapest to join the shades of pale series. Our vitiligo is so similar, it’s insane. She could be my younger beautiful sister. Thanks Anna for traveling to Amsterdam and making a new friend"

elisabethva Report

#16

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"Last week I photographed my 5th subject: Gaby. I feel so honored she took part of this, although she was a little bit nervous. We talked about how to cope with the struggle to accept something you can’t control. Vitiligo can take over our skin, but can’t take over our pride and awesomeness! That’s what’s Gaby all about: an awesome freakin’ woman"

elisabethva Report

#17

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"Beautiful Emilie in front of my lens. I found here on Instagram, totally embracing her vitiligo body. It moved me. When you both have the same struggles and overcome the same fears, it immediately creates a bond. Vitiligo is such a powerful thing; it makes you stand out, it forces you to embrace your unique beauty. Let’s all celebrate that. —- This project is all about body positivity and to celebrate our uniqueness and embracing the vitiligo body and its esthetic"

elisabethva Report

#19

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"I had the privilege to photograph my first subject of the vitiligo project Natalie. I feel so honored she traveled to Amsterdam to take part of this. This project is all about body positivity and to celebrate our uniqueness and embracing the vitiligo body and it's esthetic.


For me it was also very special to get up close and personal with someone who had the same struggles as me, and as many young woman all over the world who are trying to fit in.

Why should you even want to fit in, if you were born to be unique?"

elisabethva Report

#20

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"Such a strong woman. Thank you Anna to take your picture"

elisabethva Report

#21

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"Beautiful Padminie Gajadhar such a gracious and powerful woman. I am so grateful she let me take her picture"

elisabethva Report

#22

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"Sometimes you meet people who fill your hart with joy. Anna flew in from Budapest to join the shades of pale series. Our vitiligo is so similar, it’s insane. She could be my younger beautiful sister. Thanks Anna for traveling to Amsterdam and making a new friend"

elisabethva Report

#23

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"I had the privilege to photograph my 6th subject of the vitiligo project Emilie. I feel so honored she traveled to Amsterdam to take part of this. This project is all about body positivity and to celebrate our uniqueness and embracing the vitiligo body and its esthetic"

elisabethva Report

#24

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"Beautiful Sara. A biology student with a passion for rowing. I feel so honored she take part of this"

elisabethva Report

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#28

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"Let me start by saying I love my vitiligo skin, and love all the unique girls I had in front of my camera, celebrating their spots. But it doesn’t mean we never struggle.

For me this time of year is when I struggle the most. It is getting warmer, and we expose our skin more on the outside world. I do feel confident in my own skin, but vitiligo is often a life-changing condition that turns your world upside down."

elisabethva Report

#29

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"My favorite girl from Paris. Emilie Bouchet"

elisabethva Report

#30

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"Beautiful Maria flew in, all the way from Colorado. Vitiligo to her is “letting go”. Literally we are saying goodbye to our melatonin, but in the bigger sense we are breaking free from our perception of beauty.

This project is to help break the boundaries and encourage others to be their most authentic selves. Beauty can be whatever you want it to be"

elisabethva Report

#31

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"Beautiful Emilie. Vitiligo is such a powerful thing; it makes you stand out, it forces you to embrace your unique beauty. Let’s all celebrate that. —- This project is all about body positivity and to celebrate our uniqueness and embracing the vitiligo body and its esthetic"

elisabethva Report

#34

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"Some more output of my second subject of the vitiligo project Indy. I feel so honored she traveled to Amsterdam to take part of this. This project is all about body positivity and to celebrate our uniqueness and embracing the vitiligo body and it's esthetic."

elisabethva Report

#35

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"Yesterday the 2nd subject of the vitiligo project Indy Stokje visited me to get photographed by me. I feel so honored she traveled to Amsterdam to take part of this. It was such a fun and relaxed shoot, and it was so nice to get to know her. I was blown away by here confidence."

elisabethva Report