The Sims 4 adds new vitiligo skin feature to diversify representation in the game

The Sims 4's new patch has added in a requested feature.
The Sims 4's new patch has added in a requested feature. Photo credit: CNN

After years of urging, players of The Sims 4 have a new skin feature for their Sim: vitiligo.

On Tuesday, The Sims 4 launched an update that lets players add vitiligo skin features to their Sims in an effort to diversify representation in the game's characters.

Players can now add vitiligo patches to their Sim's face, torso, arms and legs, regardless of skin tone or age.

The update was a popular request among the Sims community — dozens of vitiligo overlays already existed, created as custom content by players and available to download online. The Sims 4 update allows users to select vitiligo within the game, without downloading an external resource.

Model Winnie Harlow, who has vitiligo, collaborated with The Sims 4 for the update and called it "magical."

"As a child, I spent a lot of time playing The Sims and I think it's so beautiful to be able to represent your true self in-game," Harlow said in a statement. "This partnership is a powerful statement encouraging players to embrace what makes them unique — both in-game and in real life."

Vitiligo is a chronic condition that causes parts of one's skin to lose its pigmentation and occurs in about 1% of people worldwide.

Harlow embracing her vitiligo has been instrumental in normalizing the condition, but in the past the model has been open about being bullied in school because of her skin.

The new feature has been in discussion for "a while," according to the game's developers. While The Sims has features including birthmarks, stretch marks, and scars, it was only last year that advancements in technology allowed for the detailed skin enhancements needed to add the vitiligo feature, said Anna Huerta, senior creative director for the game. The team created 61 vitiligo variants for this initial release — consisting of varying patterns and shades, depending on the Sim's skin tone.

"We prioritize adding representation features like vitiligo to ensure our players feel seen and have a space for expression. Simmers often are inspired by their personal stories as well as choose to explore diverse narratives as a way to experience someone else's life," Huerta said in a statement. "While we aim to fulfill player requests, we also consider what's feasible within the game's capabilities."

Already, the update has received positive feedback from users online.

"The Sims has just added vitiligo as a skin option. That's really cool!" wrote podcaster Alasdair Stuart. "Anything that helps more people feel seen in art makes me happy."

"New vitiligo details in the sims 4 is a great step towards empowering more simmers to be more fully represented in-game," another user said.

Other areas of pop culture and entertainment have also begun normalizing vitiligo. In addition to Harlow's own activism, Barbie launched a doll with the condition in 2020.