By Scott Thompson


MEET THE inspirational man who has learnt to see himself as a work of art after he was cruelly ridiculed and compared to a COW growing up because of his vitiligo – but he is having the last laugh after his condition landed him a job as a fashion model.

When he was 13 years old Mahmoud Hassan Mohamed Hassan (25) from Helwan, Cairo, Egypt, developed a chronic skin condition called vitiligo which causes patches of pale or pinkish skin around the body where the pigment called melanin isn’t produced correctly.

When Mahmoud started to notice the symptoms, he found it very difficult to deal with. He felt like he didn’t fit in with his peers and did everything he could to hide the affected areas from friends and the public.

No longer hiding away from who he is, Mahmoud is proud. MDWfeatures / Mahmoud Hassan Mohamed Hassan

At school, he would get called a ‘cow’ or a ‘zebra’ due to his patches.

Thankfully his condition doesn’t require any medication, but he does use sunblock to protect his skin just as anyone else would.

“Vitiligo is caused from a lack of the pigment melanin in the skin where the patches are, so they appear pale,” Mahmoud said.

“I wasn’t born with vitiligo. It first started to appear when I was 13 years old. It was a really difficult time for me. I was embarrassed about it and did everything I could to hide it from my friends.

Vitiligo causes discolouration on patches of skin around the body. MDWfeatures / Mahmoud Hassan Mohamed Hassan

“People around me at school and in public would shout ‘cow’ or ‘zebra’ at me because my condition causes light skin coloured patches around my body. I guess they think my skin looks the same as those animals.

“Thankfully I don’t need any daily medications. I just simply use some good sun block as anyone else would to protect their skin from the sun.”

It took Mahmoud ten years to overcome his insecurities and over the last three years he has embraced his condition and treats it like a piece of art.

He was given an opportunity to work as a fashion model which shows off his vitiligo in a positive light and spreads awareness to others who might be ignorant of his condition or in a similar place.

Vitiligo affects most parts of Mahmouds body. MDWfeatures / Mahmoud Hassan Mohamed Hassan

“My skin changed when I was 13 and it’s only been three years since I overcame my insecurities. I spent a long time convincing myself that I am very different from others, but in a good way,” Mahmoud said.

“I now treat my body as if it’s a work of art. Showing it to the public in a beautiful and creative way and stepping away from being that insecure ‘cow’.

“I adore sports and I used to work as a sports advisor and parkour trainer for teenagers and now I’m a ski and snowboard instructor.

Mahmoud doing a hand stand and showing the contrast in colours on his skin. MDWfeatures / Mahmoud Hassan Mohamed Hassan

“My vitiligo gave me the opportunity to become a fashion model and that has made me feel the strongest I have ever been before.

“I want to use this to travel and spread the word that vitiligo is something beautiful, a piece of art and should be embraced.

“Always be yourself. Truly express yourself from the inside you and you will be awesome from the outside. I believe that this is the secret to happiness.”

You can follow Mahmoud’s  journey on Instagram