News Reporter With Vitiligo Paints His Skin Every Day To Stop The Condition Ruining His Career
Whether we like to admit it or not, our appearance means a lot to us humans. Each and every one of us is conscious about some element of ourselves, be it the shape of our thighs or the curve of our eyebrows.
Even the most attractive people on the planet have hang-ups about their physical appearance from supermodel Kate Moss, whose whole career centers around her looks, hating her "bow legs" to Scarlett Johansson who is conscious of her "chubby face". Even Beyoncé isn't satisfied with the way she looks, having once said, "I wear big earrings because I don't like my ears."
Oh and Angelina Jolie thinks she's "odd looking" so the rest of us have no hope!
But one person who is really aware of their appearance is Emmy Award-winning television reporter Lee Thomas.
Check out Lee's amazing story in the video below:
The 50-year-old entertainment reporter for FOX in Detroit has had a long battle with his skin after being diagnosed with vitiligo - a condition which causes the skin to lose its pigmentation.
Thomas was only 25 years old when he noticed an abnormal white patch on his scalp after a trip to the barbers.
"The barber finished and said to me, 'Take a look.' It looked to me like he had nicked my hair, like cut it too much down to the scalp," Thomas told Daily Mail Online. "I told him that he had nicked me and he said, 'No I didn't.' We go back-and-forth for a minute before I grab the mirror and he shows me that I had a light patch of skin the size of a quarter on the back of my head."
Panicked by this, Thomas consulted his mother who told him that it was probably caused by stress. She recommended he worry less, but that soon became impossible when more white patches began to materialize.
"Another spot came up on the other side of my scalp, another one next to it about the size of two dimes, then some came on my hands, the corners of my mouth and the bridge of my nose," Lee remembered. "I knew something was wrong."
But it wasn't until a year later that he sought professional advice. During a trip to the doctor, Thomas, who was by then working as a reporter in New York City, was diagnosed with vitiligo.
"The doctor told me that I had vitiligo and that my skin was going to change colors. He said there was treatment but no cure," Lee explained. "He kept talking, but I didn't really hear much of anything else because I was in my head thinking my career was over. I was already thinking of what else I could do with my communications degree."
But rather than give up on his dream of being a reporter, Thomas chose to channel his energy into combatting his concerns so that he could still commit to his job. "Too many people invested in me for me to give up. I knew I had to figure it out," he said.
Initially, Thomas tried to conceal his condition but as it became more severe he knew he couldn't hide it any longer. "I had to make a choice because imagine all the things that you touch in one day with your hands. And I would rather people think that I have a disease then think that I am dirty," he said. "That's when I stopped covering up my hands."
Despite revealing the truth about his condition, Thomas still chose to cover up the white patches of skin on his face with makeup whilst on air. "I still wear makeup because I know that, for some people looking at me, [it] can distract them from what I'm actually saying," Thomas explained. "The stories we cover are about the people that we're talking about or writing about - it's not about us or me."
"I've been in interviews where the person I'm talking to notices my hands or my make-up and they take up some of my time to talk about me. In celebrity interviews, you only have about 5 to 10 minutes anyway and I don't want to spend three of those minutes talking about me."
Thomas is now a speaker for vitiligo and every year on World Vitiligo Day, he goes on camera without his makeup. He even wrote a book in 2007, titled Turning White: A Memoir of Change, to document his journey.
"Today I feel like this disease has made me the man that I always wanted to be," he said. "I am honorable, respectful, a good citizen, a good father, a good brother, [and] I am more compassionate and have more empathy than I ever thought I could have."
"I was just a guy trying to survive and this story has turned into so much more. I never could've guessed that. As a reporter you want people to look at you, but I never thought telling my story would be the biggest story that I've ever talked about."
Thomas' journey is only just beginning as he helps use his platform to raise awareness for the condition, which affects roughly 1% of the world's population. We wish him all the best!