…Shape, size and scars. These are some of the common insecurities that massacre every shred of confidence one can possess. Women feel the pressure to weigh certain kilos, have a particular melanin shade and definitely a clear skin tone.
But trying to be something else is honestly a waste of who you truly are. You need to accept the areas that make you feel fragile and capitalise on your strengths. A beautiful soul called Valentine Mabaso embraced her own scars and now gives hope to all those who feel trapped by their skin conditions. This #MotherlandMogul is a Marketing Specialist by day and a Rock Scars warrior every day. Her aspirations are to help others see that their strength is written on their skin and to help them see the beauty in their scars.
She lives with a chronic skin condition called Atopic Dermatitis and has been living with it for 10 years to date. The 23-year-old was born and bred in the rural villages of Limpopo and currently resides in Johannesburg, South Africa. Valentine has two awesome younger brothers and they were raised by a single mother who is Valentine’s number 1 cheerleader in her mission to change the world.
What Rock Scars priorities are you focusing on right now?
At this stage we are prioritizing on the following:
- To provide a platform and an environment that serves to empower and inspire people living with any form of skin condition or a scar of any kind.
- To restore self confidence in people of any age and gender, living with scars by providing support, networking, mentoring, encouragement and health care activities across the nation (particularly concerning skin disorders, cancer and scars of any form).
Rock Scars also educates people about skin conditions. Do you do this personally or do you have professionals who conduct these sessions?
We have unfortunately not worked with any dermatologist to date but we hope to have a professional assisting with that in future. I personally made thorough research about different forms of skin conditions, the common ones and those that are rare. I look at how they can be prevented and/or treated and how to live with them and then I share that with others.
We call this Skin Condition Awareness and it is Rock Scars’ way of educating people about skin conditions. However, I always make it clear that our participants should in all cases seek medical attention with professional Skin Doctors. Also, as people come forward to share their stories about their skin conditions, I further research about the skin conditions and then create awareness about them, especially with our online communities.
How do you tackle discrimination against the people you assist?
I believe that no one is born with a discriminatory mind, such things are learned from people and events around us. If we can teach people especially those not directly affected by us and our scars, then we can change their minds thus tackle being discriminated. We teach people to learn to appreciate diversity and respect people who are different in any way.
People may be disabled, transgender, dark-skin or have a different hair color, scars, stretch marks or a skin condition but the truth is, no one chose to be that way so why should we discriminate them. Rock Scars promotes dialogue on social media and during the events where we engage those living with skin conditions and scars and those who don’t.
In as much as I wish to protect the people I assist against discrimination and negative remarks, I unfortunately, cannot be there for them all the time. This is why during the sessions or our 1 on 1 conversations I remind them that they are warriors. That way they will be strengthened and will stand their ground under any circumstance.
I call them warriors not because I want them to feel better but because it is true. If you can survive a burning house, car accidents, cancer, and its many surgeries, live with a chronic condition for so long, why should words from someone you don’t know break you? I remind them that it matters NOT what others say. They should know that they fought bigger battles and won them and now they have the scars as medals to prove it.
How do you respond when Rock Scars is held up as an object of ridicule?
The best tool I believe in is education. Most people make such remarks because of misinformation, so the best way to correct such behavior is through educating them about our conditions.
For example, I was told a lot of times that I must be HIV positive because of my skin and its scars. This example goes to prove that people can just look at you and make their own assumptions and conclusions. Through Rock Scars, I show people it is not ok to make your own conclusion just by looking at me.
Often when we get ridiculed for what we do, I always remind people that no one ever voluntarily goes out there to get a scar for the fun of it. We try to make those ridiculing us understand that even if they are not infected they are probably affected in some way. They have someone in their lives who has a scar or is living with a skin condition. We are patient with those who do not agree with what Rock Scars does and let them know that in any case the same happens to them they are welcome to our family of warriors.
To grow, do you advertise Rock Scars or do you rely on word of mouth? Why?
I use every opportunity I get to promote the good work Rock Scars does. We interact with most people online and therefore use that as an advertising tool. It allows us to reach a large number of people across the globe instantly and it is cost effective, which is beneficial for a small social enterprise like Rock Scars.
We are also occasionally given the opportunity at various TV and radio stations in South Africa to advertise our brand through interviews. Podcasts and videos are available on our website. We also attend seminars of other organizations with similar objectives which contribute to our growth.
Read the rest of the interview on SheLeadsAfrica