In our newest Dispelling Beauty Myths series with Allure, we’re confronting the one-dimensional standards of beauty that prevent us all from inhabiting our freest and most beautiful selves.
As a child, Jesi struggled to imitate the Eurocentric beauty standards she saw reflected in movies, TV, and in the promotional posters that covered her grandparents’ video store. While she obsessively straightened her hair and starved herself to be thinner, she was also bullied at school for skating, listening to rock, and otherwise ‘acting white.’ When she was diagnosed with vitiligo, a disease that causes loss of pigment, the rapid changes to her skin color made conforming to any conventions impossible, and she lost total control over her sense of self. A particularly cruel classmate saw the white on her face and said, “Wow. You’re so white, God decided to finish the job.” For years, she covered her face and body with gloves, scarves, tights, and a full face of makeup, and struggled to maintain her black identity. When one day, she decided to go out without covering her vitiligo, she began to unpack her internalized ideas of what beauty means. She’s since come to understand that beauty, like blackness, like freedom, like justice, are dynamic concepts that change across cultures and time, and her own beauty comes from moving through the world with true intentions and a sense of self she never would have developed if it weren’t for vitiligo.
To see how Jesi has embraced a rare beauty that makes her extraordinary, watch the full video at Allure.com now.
Jesi's episode was edited by Tia Dunn