After becoming skilled at concealing his true appearance, he boldly decided to share his condition and amazing talent with the world. Watch the viral video below.
How many likes did I get? Do I look OK? Am I good enough? Is my work good enough? Will people like me? I’m different.
Life is hard, people often aren’t nice and social media can be brutal.
Now imagine one day you look at yourself in the mirror and your dark complexion has a light spot, and then two, and three.
A little concerned, you go to a dermatologist and quickly get diagnosed with a skin condition known as Vitiligo. Your next few weeks are consumed with Google searches where you learn that only 1% of the world’s population is afflicted with the condition and you continue to try to answer your biggest question, “why me?” all the while, another spot under your eye, and another next to your nose appear.
He spent over 170 hours trying to create himself, trying to draw everything, and he was trying to do that because he wanted to go through the emotions. He wanted to feel everything, the fear, insecurities, and anger, and rid himself of the negative emotions that were holding him back.
Then, people begin to notice. What are those spots on your face? What’s wrong with your skin? Just over two years ago, this is what Jeribiai Andrew-JaJa started dealing with before he had emotionally come to terms with the diagnosis of Vitiligo.
Insecurities set in and he turned to the makeup counter for help. Holding his hand up for a color match he picked a shade he thought would work and he began covering his new white spots to deter the questions and the anxiety that came along with suddenly looking different.
The makeup application became part of his morning routine. People he worked with had no idea that he was covering up his vitiligo, nor did his followers on Instagram or Tiktok.
Jeribiai had always loved art and dabbled in drawing as a kid but was never serious about it. He was born in Nigeria and was going to school in Kentucky on a scholarship for Computer Science in 2018 when he picked it up again.
Shortly after graduation, he began working in the computer science field, and then the pandemic hit affording him many more hours at home to hone his craft. It was then that his passion for drawing interweaved itself deeply into his life and his Instagram and Tiktok pages began to fill with his drawings.
The Big Reveal
During the initial phase of the COVID-19 lock-down when he was working from home, he got out of his routine of applying the makeup to cover the white spots on his face. It was also then that he had finally stopped looking in the mirror every day to see if any more had appeared. At home, he was comfortable in his skin. Then one day he had to go into the office.
When he arrived, he caught his reflection in the car mirror and realized he had forgotten to apply his makeup. He contemplated going home. His co-workers had never seen the vitiligo, he was nervous and self-conscious, the insecurities were still there on the surface.
He bit the bullet and went in. “If they ask me about it, I’ll tell them,” he thought. Not one person said a word. Of course, they noticed, but they didn’t focus on it because he didn’t. He said that experience taught him a great lesson that day.
“When you put energy into something that’s when the world reacts to it.”
His next challenge was social media. Like most of us, his accounts had become an extension of the general public, and to feel at ease with himself completely he not only needed to reveal his makeup-free face but he needed to integrate it into his artwork.
He had been quietly working on a project for himself, a piece entitled Black Metamorphosis, My Melanin Journey, which will be an ongoing project. It was just as much therapy as it was a piece of art. Wanting to accept himself again he began drawing every detail of his face. He spent time on every line, every small imperfection, and every light spot. He spent over 170 hours trying to create himself, trying to draw everything, and he was trying to do that because he wanted to go through the emotions. He wanted to feel everything, the fear, insecurities, and anger, and rid himself of the negative emotions that were holding him back.
As he drew he started slowly revealing the drawing to his Instagram followers but they hadn’t completely caught on. They could see the art, they could recognize the talent but they weren’t putting the entire picture together. Then in early December of 2020, he took the biggest step and did a video of himself removing his makeup and revealing his vitiligo.
The comments started pouring in. “Thank you, I’m showing this to my 7-year-old who has vitiligo all over her body.” “Thank you for doing this, it is so inspiring!”, and they went on and on. That video was then followed by the unveiling of the artwork in a video with him alongside. It was shared on Instagram and then on TikTok.
The rest as they say is history. Jeribiai blew up on social media and gained followers from all over the globe. Some who suffer from Vitiligo, all who admire his artwork.
Social media has given him traction in the art world. Today, he no longer works in the computer science field and supports himself with his artwork as well as the online art classes that he now teaches. To date, he has been in four art shows and his piece Black Metamorphosis, My Melanin Journey was just selected to be part of the Art Fields Art Show and Contest which will be the biggest show of his career thus far.
I highly encourage you to check out his work, follow him and watch this guy’s career take off. If you can, commission a piece, support the arts, and be able to say you have an original from this amazing artist.