“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them,” American poet Maya Angelou said. And Jeyza Gary is a living representation of these beautiful words. She was born with a rare condition that causes her skin to shed about every two weeks, but has been overcoming it every day of her life. Two years ago, Jeyza even became a model, and has already been featured in Vogue Italia.
She was not only teaching others, but her daughter as well. “Hearing that recited over and over again at the beginning of school year reaffirmed that I was just like everyone else. My mom never made me feel like I was separate. If I was peeling on my forehead, she would tie a bandana on my head and I would go to school. If my brother wore shorts, I wore shorts.”
“One day I didn’t wear anything, and I was like, ‘Who is this person?’ I started feeling like I needed makeup, so I stopped. My skin is art enough. There are moments when my skin is super bright and orange and light brown. Then there are moments when I’m just as chocolate as I want to be. I love them both equally. I take pride in my skin. I take pride in being two different shades of brown at the same time. I’m giving you a double dose of melanin.”
After the trip, Jeyza posted one of the pictures to her Instagram, and one woman reached out to her. “She said, ‘Your pictures give me goosebumps. I have lamellar ichthyosis, but I don’t have the courage to wear shorts. You give me the courage to do something I’ve never done.’ It’s not about me. It’s about allowing other people to see me and be encouraged.”
“I want to be the best. I want to be in Vogue. I want to be sought out by everybody that turned me down. There was never a person I could idolize growing up. It was my family instilling in me that I am good enough and there is nothing wrong with me. I want to be that for other people who don’t see it in themselves.”