In 1993, controversy about Michael's skin color was at an all-time high. "He kept getting whiter and whiter and whiter, and nobody understood why," Oprah says. "Anybody who knew Michael Jackson will tell you that when you are up close to him—he had absolutely no pigmentation in his skin—you are looking at his veins when you look at his hand. You are seeing through to the blue veins, and they're very, very apparent. At first that's a starling thing. Nobody ever talks about that, but it takes you aback at first. You're looking at a person who is almost translucent."
In one of the most memorable moments of Oprah's interview, Michael told her he had a skin disorder that destroyed the pigmentation of his skin. The disease, called vitiligo, was in his family, Michael said. "It is something I cannot help. When people make up stories that I don't want to be who I am, it hurts me," he said. "It's a problem for me. I can't control it. But what about all the millions of people who sit in the sun to become darker, to become other than what they are. Nobody says nothing about that."
Michael told Oprah that he used makeup to control blotchiness, but that he had never purposely bleached his skin.
This was one of Michael's most defensive moments of the interview, Oprah says. "You can see he got a little testy there about the skin issue. I think in 1993 nobody understood what it was. Nobody knew anything about vitiligo," she says. "I could see that that was one of the areas that was very sensitive to him, obviously."