Grandfather with vitiligo crochets dolls for kids with skin conditions

Photo: JOÃO STANGANELLI / INSTAGRAM
Photo: JOÃO STANGANELLI / INSTAGRAM 

A Brazilian grandfather who took up crotchet after heart problems forced him into semi-retirement, has found his calling making dolls for people with skin conditions.

Sixty-four-year-old João Stanganelli Jr. has vitiligo, an incurable skin condition which first appeared when he was 38 and causes uneven skin pigmentation.

After a 'challenge' from his wife to try his hand at crocheted rugs and toy animals, Stanganelli decided to make an amigarumi doll with vitiligo for his granddaughter Isabella so she would have it as a reminder of him.

The doll was named 'Vitilinda.'

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by João Stanganelli Junior (@joaostanganelli) on

He proudly posted a picture of it on Instagram after seeing his granddaughter's delight, and soon received commissions for dolls just like it for people living with vitiligo.

To date he has crocheted more than 200 dolls and expanded his offerings to include other conditions such as psoriasis and alopecia, as well as others in wheelchairs and with cochlear implants and vision impairment.

Mr Stanganelli says his newfound hobby brings him joy, telling PEOPLE, "I feel blessed for the opportunity to bring a little encouragement to people. The response is always positive. I'm happy! [The kids] love the dolls and feel represented."

He admits his body took some getting used to the new hobby.

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"At first my fingers and back hurt a lot, today no more," he 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 per cent of my time with the dolls. I have many orders."

The devoted grandad told CTV that while he hasn't experienced too much inconvenience from having vitiligo, he's aware that for children especially, there can be significant confidence issues due to social stigma.

He said people have told him the dolls are "helping with their self-esteem."

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by João Stanganelli Junior (@joaostanganelli) on

He now has more than 11,700 followers on Instagram and says he's thrilled to be spreading body-positive messages to people living with visible conditions and disabilities.

"Stains on vitiligo are beautiful. What is ugly is stains on people's character," he stated, adding, "It has been rewarding, stimulating. I'm happy to be a good influencer."

His radiant expression in his photos says it all. Helping people feel good about themselves is truly one of the most beautiful attributes a person can possess.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by João Stanganelli Junior (@joaostanganelli) on

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by João Stanganelli Junior (@joaostanganelli) on