As a proud body-positive Vitiligo spokesmodel in South Africa, i have taken it upon myself to embrace my individuality. I am certainly not the first person to have this skin condition but i find myself to be the only one who chooses not to behave as though it never played a big and positive role in making me who i am today.

Vitiligo model, Spotted Beauty

Photography : Eugene Nhlabathi

In my journey of understanding, experiencing and embracing my body i came to realise that I don’t only stand for those with the same skin condition as i do. I am here for the young girl who dreams to be a global star, the melanin goddess who will always be second guessed until she opens her mouth and speaks fluent English, the chubby girl in primary school who isn’t as good as the petite one on sports day and would rather wear a T-shirt over her  swimsuit covering her precious unappreciated body. I am here for the big beautiful girl whos’ self-esteem is low because no boy asked her out to the disco/dance or to be their girlfriend because they feel intimidated by her Godly presence so full, rich and filled with the best personality traits under the sun. I am here to certify greatness within to the girl who feels without.

Looking back and reflecting on my growth from the moment i started being self-conscious, i realise how hard i was on myself in terms of the experience i had based on my appearance. Little girls need to be reassured of their value especially by the loved ones around them and not in pity but in absolute adoration. Reminiscing on both good and bad experiences has led me to understanding the importance duality in all things life throws at us. I have always liked to imagine myself to be as great as a big beautiful tree. I stand tall and proud with my roots sinking deeper into the ground as i grow. The patterns on my skin being the beautiful leaves and flowers and my thick-chunky-strong body build with stretch-marks being the trunk.

I recently came to put a team together to collaborate on a project that sparked in conversation with the stylist Itumeleng Mothomoholo-Mahlatji known as Phly-Mama / Manyanga. Once the seed was planted we agreed to bring the idea to life. I then approached Eugene Nhlabathi, Founder and Director of Khipon Photography who i met at as a colleague working for an international clothing brand years ago. We spoke and then decided that i needed a creative make-up artist (these are rare) and i couldn’t help but think of an artist that caught my eye a couple times with her work, Tshegofasto Ramorwesi known as Swirl Stylist. I met her almost 10 years ago in a crew we both joined called Phly-Cru (Oooooh we were IT i tell you). Anyway, one thing we all had a in common was that we happened to be hungry for the same thing “Creating and story telling” (tell me the stars aren’t aligning). As an artist  you happen to always believe you can do everything alone of which you can; you really are just the Jack of all trades but working with THIS TEAM showed me a whole new world. This is what Manyanga had to say about her involvement on the project:

“Re Badimo : The God in You represents the healing and the Beauty of a human being as their higher self, every being is an embodiment of what God is and it’s my duty to exhibit that like I did with the Spotted Beauty Boitumelo Rametsi, she is a representation of what “Mamodimo Wa thlago” (a nature Goddess) is,Mother Nature so to say. Her cosmic beauty with the spots on her represent our Universe, the flowers,the tree and leaves epitomise her journey, with all she’s been through. This look indicates a lot about her life story i.e In all I have gone through, my life, my journey, my “flaws” I’m forever beautiful, blossoming and strong like the tree…. My purpose in this exhibit was to carry on the flow on the body to carry on the magic Tshego Swirl did on her face and Eugene’s enchanting capture of the whole shoot. We are here to create Magic & Boitumelo Spotted is not only my kindred but my muse, so this is a big deal for me and what I represent, this is part of my Mamodimo: Goddess Ma exhibition expose (A journey of the Goddess Ma in all women ). This is a stepping stone to a lifelong journey of beauty and feminism and I’m so blessed and grateful that Spotted Beauty is the opening Chapter of it all. As Re Badimo: The God In You, its an honour to be a part of your cosmic universal journey, we love you always Goddess” – Itumeleng Mothomoholo. 

The energy that flowed while shooting was effortless and once we were done, we were all left speechless. It goes to show that once you do what you love, you never have to work a day in your life.

Eugene shared how he’d always seen the world in two parts equally. The Person and the Art! He attempts speaking of himself self through digital and visual mediums and this project proved to be creatively liberating to him; In the sense that it was a collaboration of more than one personality and artistic practice

He elaborates further on how he went beyond the general expectations of a photographer for this shoot:

” In production my role was more technical than artistic. The art came with post production where I could further manipulate the work that was put in by everyone in the team. A responsibility like none I’ve had to face as a solo artist. More than anything else this project has shown me how more can be achieved when working in a team towards a common goal, with everyone bringing their Best to the table. Khipon!

 

Style and creative direction: Itumeleng Mothomoholo

Photography: Eugene Nhlabathi

Gear

Canon 700D

50mm Prime Lens

18-55mm Lens

55-200mm

Tungstan Light

Lens Ring Light

Small Circular Reflector

Medium Circular Reflector

Make-up: Tshegofatso Ramorwesi

MAC professional makeup eyeshadow palette // Kryolan professional makeup eye shadow pallet // L.A Girl strobe lite stobing power highlight // L.A GIRL pro face HD.high definition matte pressed powder // L.A. GIRL pro .conceal HD high definition concealer // Signature Dark chocolate eyebrow pencil // Kylie double gel eyeliner // Maybelline colossal volume express mascara // Maybelline new baby skin // HudaBeauty liquid matte lipstick // Eyelure London dramatic eyelashes