‘Be comfortable in your skin.’ These words sound very comforting, but when it comes to the real world, one usually finds it harder to practise what has been preached. That may have something to do with the fact that in the age of hypervisibility, enabled by social media, we are constantly judged on the basis of the skin and bodies we inhabit. A freckle here, a fine line there, nothing escapes the lens. Thankfully, many are also using these platforms to create a template for another kind of beauty — one that’s not rooted in perfection but reality. Egyptian skin-positive content creator Logina Salah is one of them. She was 13 when Logina first discovered that she had vitiligo. At an age when women begin to feel beautiful, Logina says she and her family were traumatised with the diagnosis. In a conversation with wknd., Logina, 32, tells us how she outgrew this feeling to become a vitiligo advocate and set a new template for beauty.
Tell us about your formative years.
I had a pretty amazing childhood with very supportive parents. I must have been around eight when I was diagnosed with psoriasis. That wasn’t easy because all of a sudden I would have restrictions on playing outdoors or being exposed to the sun for a long time.
You had been a makeup artist before you ventured into content creation. What drew you to the world of makeup?
It was in 2017 that I first revealed my skin without makeup in a before-and-after picture. It was during a workshop, where the model could not make it, and I had to fill in pretty much at the last minute. The picture began trending and people did not care about the makeup look. They commented how brave I was to take this step so fearlessly. The makeup trick for those with vitiligo is to not evenly apply concealer or foundation on the skin. White spots require more coverage. It is also advisable to use water-proof makeup with lots of setting with loose powder
When did you first realise you had vitiligo?
I must have been 13 years old when I began noticing white spots appearing all over my face and body. I tried my best to hide them with makeup to avoid comments from people. This is when I actually began to love makeup and understood how it works. This is also an age when girls begin to understand what beauty is and transform into women. It was traumatising not only for me but also for my parents.
Right. So what did the journey to self-acceptance entail?
Self-acceptance isn’t an easy process and you do not reach this point overnight. It’s a long journey of self-discovery and realising your worth and loving yourself unconditionally. I began to believe that there was more to me than my appearance.
At which point did you decide to become a vitiligo advocate?
I always felt that God had put me in this situation for a reason. I really wanted to help people understand this condition. Moreover, I did not want any child to feel what I felt as a 13-year-old. I remember being always scared and felt bullied, so I decided to stand up for the cause and share my experience to spread awareness. I feel over the moon when I come across someone who tells me they have embraced their vitiligo because of me.
Inclusion is the buzzword in the beauty industry. Are the ground realities any different?
I think there has been a remarkable shift. The perspective has changed from perfection to reality and inclusivity. There is also focus on unfiltered direction. I believe this has happened because of all the people who have spoken out and demanded to be included in the conversations related to beauty.
You had been a part of Say Yes To The Dress Arabia. What was venturing into the reality show space really like?
As a single mom, I do hear lots of comments on how to raise my kid. I have also been told that I should not marry again. I feel this is unfair. I participated in Say Yes To The Dress Arabia to tell the world that it’s our right as single moms to love again, and get married in a big ceremony wearing an elaborate dress. There is nothing to feel ashamed about. I wanted to spread awareness about this.
Social media can be a very tricky space to be in, where hate comes as often as love. What have been some of the most insensitive comments hurled your way?
Of course, when I was new to social media, I was very sensitive to hateful comments. They used to get to me and hurt me. But as years passed, I began to believe that you can only reflect what is inside you. And the negative comment says more about the other person than me. One of the most hateful comments I ever heard was that I apparently used my condition to get famous. As though every famous person has to have a disease in order to be where s/he is. Which is why I strongly believe that raising awareness and believing that you can help someone come to terms with what is a very hard time is a great cause.
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