In a society that puts a scary amount of stock in looking perfect, it can be devastating to realize you can never live up to the world’s rigid beauty standards. Really, none of us can, but there’s an extra tough hurdle when your biology starts to work against you. That’s exactly what happened to Montreal native, Aiesha Robinson when she was diagnosed with vitiligo (pronounced vi-til-eye-go) at the age of 18.
Vitiligo is a rare skin condition that causes patches of skin to lose pigment in certain areas. You might have heard of it from a certain King of Pop, Mr. Michael Jackson. The disease can start at any age and though it isn’t harmful, the reality of living with it is challenging. Aiesha Robinson knows all too well how hurtful people can be and how, unfortunately, looking different can hold you back.
It took her a few years of obstacles and setbacks before she was able to get to a place where she felt beautiful and like her life was worthwhile. When the disease first began progressing, Aiesha struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts as she noticed the way others looked at her and began to view herself in the same way. In a short documentary years later, she discussed the overwhelming worry that she wouldn’t be able to achieve the things she wanted in life because of people judging her by her skin.
Eventually, with the help of a great support system consisting of her parents, brothers and a huge extended family, Aiesha was able to accept her condition as a part of her. And she didn’t stop there. She started Born to Rise, a non-profit organization that educates about vitiligo, self-acceptance and anti-bullying so no one will have to feel the same way she did. She travels throughout the year and speaks at schools, camps and boys & girls clubs and then holds an annual Born to Rise Show in Montreal. The event is ‘a night dedicated to lifting others’ and consists of inspirational speakers and real life stories.
Plus, to prove to everyone just how far she’s come, Aiesha just signed a modeling contract. Take that, haters.
If you’re interested in learning more, here’s the full doc on Aiesha and her condition: