Living with scars from a chronic skin disorder, fire, car crash or any other event that leaves you marked for life can be traumatising and often leads to low self-esteem.
Valentine Mabaso has been living with scars as a result of atopic dermatitis, a skin condition she was diagnosed with at 13.
“When the skin condition first started I thought it was nothing serious, probably just chicken pox or minor allergies that will disappear in no time. When I realised one year has gone by and they were still there I knew it something more serious,” she says.
Unfortunately, at the time her mother couldn’t afford a dermatologist’s consultation. When she could finally go to a private doctor, Valentine learnt that her condition was a severe form of eczema often triggered by allergens .In her case it was things she inhaled such as tree or flower pollen.
She admits that living with the scars of atopic dermatitis was difficult and it prohibited her from being free and comfortable in her skin.
In 2015 she decided to post a picture of skin for the first time on Facebook,
“I was so relieved that I felt the decision to post on social media was very helpful for me. So I thought maybe starting an online platform that helps people share their stories and experiences about their scars might help them the way it has helped me,” she says.
And so Valentine founded a campaign called Rock Scars, which aims to provide a platform for people living with scars. The campaign has been well received and has currently reached over 22 000 people from across the world. The campaign’s slogan is: “You are a warrior and you’ve got scars to prove it”. A powerful mantra that all people living with scars should be proud and confident and a mantra that they recite to themselves daily.
Rock Scars has seminars where people are encouraged to share their stories and are guided on how to rock their marks rather than conceal them.
After the seminars Valentine says they have photoshoots of the warriors rocking their scars, which they post on social media to inspire and encourage others.
Rock Scars will be launching swimwear in September because “we understand how many people living with scars or skin disorders barely go to beaches and swimming pools because of low self-esteem, so I saw it as important that I make a product that’s made for them by a person who understands their condition and their journeys”.
“If someone can live with such a painful chronic skin disorder for so long or survive burns and even after that still have the courage to rock their scars, then why can’t you draw inspiration from that? The fact they are willing to rock their scars and show off their ‘imperfection’ should motivate people to believe they can overcome anything.”
Her words of comfort to someone still struggling to be comfortable in their skin are: “Find self-worth within yourself to become comfortable with who you are. Sometimes it's not easy to be comfortable in your skin when you're constantly surrounded by magazines and movies that emphasis what the ‘perfect human body’ is or how a woman should look like. Rather than trying to fit that type of image, learn to appreciate your body because you're beautiful just the way you are.”