When it comes to superstars of his level, there always seem to be controversies, conspiracies, or some other mystery, and just one of the many surrounding Michael Jackson is that he for some reason intentionally had his skin color altered.
Regardless of the cause, there is no denying he exhibits a dramatic difference in pigmentation between the time he shot the 'Thriller" video and the "Black or White" video. And ever since I was young, everyone seems to have had their opinion as to why this happened.
I've heard the same old rumors (as I'm sure many others have) since the early 1990's, some insisting Jackson had his skin somehow lightened, either chemically or medically. Others explain that he had a skin condition known as vitiligo, which turns skin lighter through depigmentation. People counter that argument by saying there has never been a documented case of vitiligo causing depigmentation as widespread as Jackson's. I've yet to see either argument backed by compelling data, and to the best of my knowledge, this debate continues informally to this day, along with whether or not Elvis is still alive and whether or not Paul McCartney is an impostor.
There are of course countless internet debates such as this where people voice one opinion or the other, although I notice a startling lack of any real evidence to back up these claims.
Personally, I cannot say I find the argument of either side terribly compelling, and have yet to come across an explanation I would be willing to accept as both correct and complete.
So, where does the science come down on this one?
Is there any scientific evidence that Michael Jackson intentionally lightened his skin?
Could his extensive (some would say unprecedented) depigmentation be explained by vitiligo?
Is it even scientifically possible to lighten skin that dramatically through either chemical or medical procedures?