Wear your skin proudly

Vuk'uzenzele - - Youhtehalftohcus - Galoome Shopane

Ler­ato Sithibe is a woman liv­ing with al­binism. She wears her skin proudly not al­low­ing neg­a­tive stereo­types to de­fine her.

“It is im­por­tant for peo­ple like me not to let oth­ers de­fine their iden­tity. Wear your skin proudly be­cause you are won­der­fully made,” she said. Sithibe (28) from Kroon­stad in the Free State, ex­plains that her con­di­tion is hered­i­tary and is the re­sult of a per­son hav­ing a re­duced amount of melanin pig­ment formed in the skin, hair and/ or eyes. “We are not the muthi or aliens peo­ple think we are. We are hu­man be­ings just like ev­ery­one else.”

Sei­thibe wears many hats. She is a model who also uses fash­ion to raise aware­ness about al­binism and is an ac­tivist for peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties in the Free State.

She said she grew up in a lov­ing fam­ily that never made her feel dif­fer­ent or less loved for hav­ing al­binism.

“I didn’t un­der­stand why my skin colour was dif­fer­ent from other peo­ple, why ev­ery time I went out­side peo­ple would call me names and stared at me like I was an out­sider.”

The stigma at­tached to al­binism made Sethibe more grate­ful for her fam­ily, cred­it­ing them for the strong and con­fi­dent woman she is to­day.

Some of Sithibe’s proud­est achieve­ments in­clude be­ing crowned Miss Free State Al­binism 2018 and be­ing cho­sen as one of the finalists for the Face of Free State Fash­ion Week 2018.

With Septem­ber be­ing Al­binism Aware­ness Month Sithibe said she would be hap­pier to see more peo­ple with al­binism com­ing out and do­ing great things in the modelling in­dus­try and other sec­tors.

“We are not the muthi that peo­ple think we are. We are hu­man be­ings just like ev­ery­one else.”

Ler­ato Sithibe is at the fore­front of rais­ing aware­ness about al­binism.

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