Redefined Beauty: Vitiligo Is NOT a Curse!
By: Erica M. Ponder
Over the decades, America has fortunately redefined what beauty really is. With campaigns such as Dove’s Speak Beautiful and Pro-Age, we are now seeing more women flaunt their stuff when at one point in time, they would probably be afraid to. One of those brave women who have decided to be who they are in a society that has just come to terms with accepting her form of beauty is Ke’Tara Wells, a Prairie View A&M alumna and graduate student at Sam Houston State University. Wells, an African-American young woman with Vitiligo, has had an amazing journey while embracing her beauty and going against society’s norms of what being beautiful really is. Wells’ definition of beauty is “not necessarily on the outside or how we look in public.” She further stated that “to me, it has nothing to do with clothes or make-up. Size doesn’t matter to me. I see beauty as internal and external. I feel like beauty is how a person just is naturally…Just someone who has a good heart.”
Since she was three years old, Wells had a hard time with identifying herself as beautiful due to society’s opinion of her skin disorder, which causes certain parts of the pigmentation on her skin to not have color. “I didn’t think I was beautiful for a very long time.” Becoming a student in college is what Wells says helped change her perception of herself. “I remember I was doing a paper, and my topic was ‘Skintone Bias’… I was doing my research, and in other cultures, if you have Vitiligo, you are basically shunned, and I was just looking at different cases in just anything.” While doing the research, Wells began to reevaluate her own views on skin color, and she was able to put herself in other’s shoes and began to feel sympathy for other people who experienced her same challenges. “After reading so many stories and cases of people being criticized for something that they can’t control, that’s when my perception really changed, because I was one of those people who couldn’t control the way I looked,” she said.
Wells decided to view herself as a beautiful woman in her adult years. “For so long, I’ve always been the only person with it. I never really met someone with it unless they were older, or they had just gotten it. Some people label our skin disorder as a trend. Now, I have guys wanting to talk to me, because it seems ‘Exotic.’” She further revealed that “I was in an area of my life where I got tired of feeling sorry for myself, and I just kind of feel like throughout your life, you have to stop feeling sorry for yourself at one point in time and just say, ‘I’m okay with who I am.’”
Wells plans to continue to shine in the face of Vitiligo by simply being herself. “At the end of the day, I can’t be anyone else but myself. When people tell me that I’m beautiful, I don’t feel that they tell me I’m beautiful because of my skin disorder. What I get a lot is people tell me that I am beautiful because I am myself, and I have embraced my skin disorder with just being myself. It is a part of me. It’s really about being myself and continuing to embrace who I am as a person.” Wells has the solid determination that whether people get used to her beauty or not, she will continue to love herself just as God created her.