Michael Jackson explained his skin disorder after claims he was bleaching it to become white

Jake Massey

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Michael Jackson explained his skin disorder after claims he was bleaching it to become white

Featured Image Credit: The Oprah Winfrey Show/Sony

Michael Jackson was one of the most famous faces in showbiz - but that face changed dramatically over the course of his life in the limelight.

The singer became a star as a child in The Jackson Five, before going on to become one of the most influential artists in the world.

During his four-decade career, his appearance was the subject of much scrutiny, and speculation about cosmetic surgery and skin bleaching was rife.

Some suggested that Jackson was deliberately altering his appearance to look white, but he insisted that was not the case.

Jackson's appearance changed dramatically as he got older. Credit: Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo
Jackson's appearance changed dramatically as he got older. Credit: Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo

In a 1993 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Jackson said: "I have a skin disorder that destroys the pigmentation of the skin. It's something that I cannot help."

Oprah then asked whether the star didn't like being Black, to which he replied: "I'm a Black American. I'm proud to be a Black American. I am proud of my race. I am proud of who I am. I have a lot of pride and dignity.

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"When people make up stories that I don't want to be who I am it hurts me, and using makeup evens it out because it makes blotches on the skin - I have to even out my skin.

"It's a problem for me, OK, I can't control it. But what about all the millions of people who sit in the sun to become darker, to become other than what they are? Nobody says nothing about that."

The skin condition was vitiligo, whereby pale white patches develop on the skin due to a lack of melanin, which is the pigment in skin.

Reflecting on the interview, Oprah said she was taken aback by how white Jackson was.

Jackson said he was proud to be a Black American. Credit: REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo
Jackson said he was proud to be a Black American. Credit: REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo

"He kept getting whiter and whiter and whiter, and nobody understood why," she recalled.

"Anybody who knew Michael Jackson will tell you that when you are up close to him, he had absolutely no pigmentation in his skin, you are looking at his veins when you look at his hand. You are seeing through to the blue veins, and they're very, very apparent.

"At first that's a startling thing. Nobody ever talks about that, but it takes you aback at first. You're looking at a person who is almost translucent."

Oprah added that it was one of his most defensive moments in the interview.

"You can see he got a little testy there about the skin issue," she said.

"I think in 1993 nobody understood what it was. Nobody knew anything about vitiligo.

"I could see that that was one of the areas that was very sensitive to him, obviously."

Topics: Celebrity, Michael Jackson, Music

Jake Massey
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