Debunking myths and rumors has to be one of my favorite pasttimes and with Michael Jackson, there's never a shortage. People are so bombarded by media BS surrounding nearly every aspect of who Michael is and many celebrities in general. You'd be surprised the length they'll go to in order to distort some aspect of him, including doctoring pictures and photoshopping so it looks like this nose is falling off (by the way, that was a bandaid that the media photoshopped off the ends of so it looked like a flap of skin hanging off) or photoshopping lots of blush, eyeshadow, and lipstick where it isn't. Now, I'm not denying that Michael does wear makeup. But the media will often touch of the photos and brighten up the makeup so it looks outrageous. If you find originals and compare them to the ones in magazines, there is often some serious retouching.
One of the favorite things the media likes to talk about is Michael's so-called "skin bleaching". It was in 1993 on the Oprah Winfrey prime time interview that an emotional Michael revealed that he suffers from the skin disorder Vitiligo, which causes sufferers to lose their skin's pigmentation and ultimately become allergic to the sun. Of course no one believed him when he came forth with this confession and to this day a vast majority of the public believes Michael made himself white.
I am familiar with the skin disease as one of my mom's close friends (adopted Aunt) has it. Thus I know what it looks like from personal experience and I've stood a foot away from Michael Jackson and saw it all over his hands. Same thing. Vitiligo is hereditary (Michael's big sister Latoya has it as well, in fact she was whiter than Michael was in the early 90s). What Michael does do is he LOADS up on foundation and powder to try to even out his skin so it isn't as noticeable (it leaves colorless white blotches all over the skin). He adds makeup once in awhile to try to give his face a bit more color and this also explains "bizarre" behavior such as carrying an umbrella outdoors in the heat, glasses, hats, long hair, anything that covers and protects his skin from direct sunlight.
Below is the photographic evidence, including early shots of Michael in the late 70s as a teenager, one where the Vitiligo is visible on the side of his face, another from a book I have that was published in 1984 that shows Michael's face and neck covered in blotches once the heat from the stage lights caused his makeup to melt. If Michael was bleaching his skin, it would all be the same color. Take a look at any Vitiligo victim and their skin looks the same. Michael most likely does use skin-lightening creams to even it out further since his case is pretty severe and uses makeup to even out the rest. There is no cure for Vitiligo and it gets progressively worse. Also included are a few shots of Michael from the Brazilian version of his "They Don't Care About Us" Spike Lee directed music video, most of the shots feature his bare chest completely powdered so it looks normal but a few shots made it into the video prior to his make-up job. And lastly, the picture of Michael's leg comes from a court appearance Michael missed claiming he was bitten by a spider and had to go to the hospital. The judge didn't believe him and made him submit photographic evidence of the alleged spider bite, which was in fact real, and it further showcases some of the best pictures of his skin disease. There's no doubt that Michael isn't lying about having the disease, so you can tell all those non-believers to eat it! There are some people who have suggested that Michael also suffers from Lupus, and in the Thriller-era picture where Michael's face looks red some have said that's typical of a Lupus rash. Michael has also been a generous supporter of Lupus foundations, it is a possibility though unconfirmed.
Now, to add a note, there are many African Americans who suffer from Vitiligo. As a result, dark makeup is available to keep sufferers darker. Note that LaToya Jackson recently turned black again, this is how. So, one could argue that technically Michael could have done the same, though with the severity of the disease all over him, it might take more work than it was worth to him - still interesting and relevant to point out though, and a discussion I can understand having.
The following are un-doctored original photographs. Obviously the press would never release these (kind of like they never release of Michael playing and hugging little girls - of which there are thousands out there, instead they just show him with little boys, in an attempt to try to make him seem "obsessed" with boys, despite the fact that his charity work as always included boys and girls at about an equal ratio). Without further due - here are the pix - a Popspiracy exclusive!
UPDATE: Michael Jackson's multiple autopsies revealed he did indeed have Vitiligo and that his skin had an absence of melanocytes. This was also in the detailed report publicly released and was consistently mentioned throughout.
UPDATE 2: Michael Jackson's eldest son, Prince, also has Vitiligo, which can be seen on his shoulder, neck and fingers.