Marian Perkins, 22, who is African American, was 13 when she first noticed areas of discolouration on her skin.
Perkins, who is from Maryland, US, was later diagnosed with vitiligo. This is a long-term condition which causes white patches to develop on the skin due to a lack of melanin.
Some vitiligo sufferers only get a few small, white patches. Others – like Perkins – develop bigger patches across larger areas of skin, according to the NHS website.
Perkins was subjected to cruel jibes regarding her skin condition. Some claimed she was “trying to be white”, while others said she resembled a cow.
But Perkins – who was once so self conscious she slept in her foundation – has now embraced her unique look.
Criminal justice graduate Perkins, who is also a professional dancer, has modelled for brands such as Coca Cola.
“People’s comments greatly affected my self-confidence,” she says. “I was already insecure about how I looked and having vitiligo at the time made me feel worse.
“People have said that I was trying to be white as I’d lost the pigment on my face in a bid to disguise my African American heritage which was so hurtful.
“I felt ugly so I would cover my face completely with makeup to hide my skin because I was ashamed and embarrassed of how I looked.
“I thought people would not want to be around me or not find me attractive.”
However, Perkins decided to ditch the makeup when she started university – and says she has now “fully embraced” her skin.
“Once I finally stopped wearing foundation to mask my condition, I received negative comments stating that I ‘look weird, like a cow’ and was ‘trying to be white’.
“But now I have fully embraced my skin, I rarely hear comments like this. I have learnt to love myself and people can see it, I often get told my skin is unique or pretty.”
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