The mother of a sweet four-year-old with two-tone skin and white hair has revealed how strangers ‘publicly yawn’ at the younger one – and even accuse her mother of dyeing her hair.
Teacher Vicki Gagliardi, 46, from New York, was born with piebaldism, a genetic condition in which a person develops an unpigmented or white skin and / or hair spot.
After being bullied about the condition for years, Vicki was not a condition she wanted to pass on to her daughter Priscilla, now four, and was devastated when she heard doctors say during childbirth, “She has white hair.”
Unique: the mother of a four-year-old girl with a rare skin condition that causes white spots on her skin and hair has spoken out about ‘rude’ strangers ‘yawning’ at her child
Mother, daughter: Vicki Gagliardi, 46, of New York, was born with the condition – called piebaldism – and passed it on to her daughter Priscilla, now four
Upset: While Priscilla takes pride in her skin and calls the patches her “ super signs, ” her mom is worried that the younger will become more harassed about the condition as she ages.
Priscilla knows what she calls her ‘super signs’, but is largely oblivious to the things her mother, Vicki, picks up on. It’s not uncommon for passers-by to stare roughly at Priscilla as the two try to enjoy a mother-daughter shopping trip.
On another occasion, Priscilla noticed that she had no one to play with in the park – much unknown to her, but slightly noticed by Vicki.
Priscilla has a lot of friends at school, but Vicki is concerned with how things will change as Priscilla grows up. During a recent taekwondo lesson, Priscilla showed her first sign of uncertainty. While changing into her uniform, Priscilla asked her mother if they could move elsewhere so people wouldn’t laugh at her legs.
Vicki and her partner Argely, 36, are Priscilla’s greatest champions. The two parents are endlessly proud of their bubbly and intrepid daughter, but also have no tolerance for bullying.
They hope to raise awareness about piebaldism in hopes of making Priscilla’s life easier, but also the lives of other children with traits that make them different.
Piebaldism is a family affair. I have it as well as one of my sisters and my father. I also have cousins with it, as well as some aunts and uncles and their children, ”said Vicki.
‘When I was younger, I had a hard time with these’ spots’. I was ridiculed in primary school. By the time I got to high school, I discussed it all year round.
Anxiety: Vicki says her daughter has been incredibly confident for most of her life, but has recently become more self-conscious about her ‘super signs’
Difficulties: During a recent taekwondo lesson, Priscilla asked her mom if she could change into her privately so people wouldn’t laugh at her legs
Fears: Vicki is concerned that her daughter will suffer the same harassment as when she grew up – torment that led her to cover up her skin with makeup
Reminders: “I was ridiculed … By the time I got to high school, I discussed it all year round,” revealed Vicki, pictured with Priscilla and her partner Argely,
“When I finally got pregnant, I prayed to God that my child wouldn’t have it. As a parent, we want to protect our children. I gave birth by Caesarean section. The nurses took Priscilla to the table and said, “This baby has white hair.”
“I knew then and there that the days of covering my skin were over. God gave her this condition to teach me a lesson. I want my baby to be proud of the skin she has.
Priscilla calls her “spots” her super signs. Her dad and I told her a long time ago that the skin we made special was just like superheroes. Now when we play we put our arms together and say “super-mark power”.
“My whole family tells her how beautiful she is. I want her to know that and always have confidence in herself.
“She likes to look in the mirror. I am very happy that she likes what she sees. Some people tell us she was kissed by an angel.
“She has many friends in her kindergarten class. The teacher asked if I wanted to explain balbalism to the class, but we decided that it was only necessary if they asked questions and they never did. ‘
Vicki fears that Priscilla may experience some of the bullying and uncertainty that Vicki grew up herself.
“People stare – very rude – both adults and children. We take her to the mall and people will almost break their necks if we walk by, ”said Vicki.
Support: Priscilla’s mom says her whole family makes a point of telling the youngster how beautiful she is
Future: “I think she’s too young to know she’s embracing her feelings, but I never want her to feel that she needs to cover or hide them. I pray she never feels the way I do, “Vicki said
Awareness: Vicki is focused on raising awareness about piebaldism, hoping her daughter will receive less attention as more people become aware of the condition
Looking ahead, “The more people who know about piebaldism, the less they will stare,” said Vicki. “If people want to know why her skin looks different, I’d rather ask them”
“Sometimes people don’t realize she’s just a baby. That kind of behavior can make her very uncomfortable.
“Once in a supermarket, a man asked if I had dyed her hair. She was only three — what kind of mother would I be if I had.
“Last summer, Argely and I took her to Central Park in Manhattan. There were so many children there and none of them wanted to play with her. She didn’t know, but it broke my heart when I saw it happen.
“I recently changed her to taekwondo. She said, “Mama, I want to stand there because I don’t want all people to laugh at my legs.” This was the first time she said anything like that. I questioned her, but she didn’t explain much and changed the subject.
“I think she’s too young to know she’s embracing her spottedness, but I never want her to feel like she needs to cover or hide them. I pray she never feels the way I do. ‘
Vicki and Argely hope to raise awareness about piebaldism.
“The more people who know about piebaldism, the less they will stare,” said Vicki.
“If people want to know why her skin looks different, I’d rather ask myself. Teach your children that everyone is different in their own way.
‘As a teacher, I don’t tolerate children scolding other children.
“I show the students my skin and I talk to them to learn kindness. Things that make us different are the same things that make us beautiful. ‘