We’re all hiding something, aren’t we?

When we step into the office, we hide the rain clouds hovering above our heads by bantering about the “lovely weekend” we had with fake plastered smiles and forced chipper voices.

We shell out our hard-earned cash for some gloop-in-a-bottle that “magically” hides our blemishes, scars, and pimples.

We rummage through stores – on foot and online – for clothes that hide our imperfections from the world.

We suppress our painful past by keeping our lips locked while our secrets insidiously eat us alive.

But while all of us spend so much time and money hiding who we are, and stifling our true identities to synthesize seamlessly into society, there are a select few who have broken free from the mechanical, monotonous motion of the masses.

These are fearless individualists who have learned how to transform their defects into dollarstheir insecurities have become their income.

Take Winnie Harlow, for example. She’s a breathtaking model known for her spectacularly symmetrical spots, and she revolutionized the beauty industry by owning her unique complexion. But rewind back to when she was a young girl in school, and Harlow used to be bullied for her vitiligo. “The bullying started in middle school,” Harlow told Tyra during an audition of America’s Next Top Model, Cycle 21. “They were like ‘cow’ and ‘moo.’ I ended up dropping out of high school because the bullying was that much.”

In an interview with Elle, Harlow details how she developed confidence from within:

“I [used to] feel like I had low-self esteem or I wasn’t the prettiest girl. But I realized that wasn’t really my opinion of myself, I was just paying attention to what other people were saying. I had to sit myself down and be like, ‘I actually don’t feel that way and whatever they say really isn’t relevant.'”

Had Harlow cowered under the biting words of others and doused herself with makeup, she wouldn’t be known as the standout, unique model she is today.

Harlow’s unique, patchy visage can be seen in prestigious magazines such as Harper’s Baazar, and you can spot her catwalking for distinguished brands such as Dior and Coach, according to Forbes.

And what about Ashley Graham? The body-positive model disrupted the stick-thin model aesthetic with her luscious, plush curves, but like Harlow, she didn’t always have thick skin. She used to tell herself, “You are so ugly, you are so fat, this is disgusting,” according to an interview Graham had with Yahoo Style. But Graham had a breakthrough and began changing how she perceived her body. “I am beautiful, and I do have a great body,” she began telling herself in a mirror.

Graham has blessed many renowned fashion designers with her voluptuous presence, including Dolce and Gabbana, Christian Siriano, and Michael Kors. She was also the first full-figured woman to grace the covers of Sports Illustrated and Vogue.

She’s now poised to launch a second wave of her plus-size denim collection in collaboration with Marina Rinaldicha-ching!

Had Graham drowned her figure in sweats, no one would have heard about her. Now think about it – what industry hasn’t heard about you and your awesomeness, as we speak, because you’re too busy hiding your flaws?

Both Harlow and Graham had to go through some serious introspective personal development to become today’s confident models who are rising into prominence, and their new-found courage has helped them transform their so-called “defects” into dollars.

This article, however, isn’t about Harlow and Graham. It’s about you.

What are you hiding? What is your allegorical vitiligo”?

What is your metaphorical “chubbiness” that you’re trying to shy away from the world? And how can you turn that insecurity into something that you can embrace?

How can you turn your flaws into a career journey that will not only deepen your pockets, but also make an positive impact on those who share your same struggles?

Well, I’ll tell you what I’ve been hiding – my keloids. Keloids are unsightly clusters of overgrown collagen that can disfigure one’s appearance. I’ve got three big ones: my back shoulder, bikini line, and chest. I’ve also got small ones on my jawline. They grew spontaneously onto my skin during my teenage years.

I’ve tried all my life to hide them. I haven’t worn a V-neck t-shirt in a decade, and I wouldn’t dare wear a swimsuit. I’ve spent thousands of dollars trying to rid of them through surgery, laser procedures, and nitrogen freezing, but all of my keloids grew back with a vengeance.

Drowning in depression, I began blogging about my keloids, and surprisingly, I received a flood of “I know how you feel” responses from all over the world. But here’s what really had my jaw dropping to the floor – a UK-based TLC producer found my blog, and told me she’d like to consider me for a TV series documenting people with hidden conditions, and how they reveal their “secret afflictions” to love interests in the dating world.

I was floored.

I’ve spent so many years trying to hide my skin imperfections, and the minute I started opening up about them, opportunities started flying my way.

After some apprehension, I eventually agreed to do the show. The TLC producer said that while their monetary resources have depleted for now, they plan to keep me in mind for future seasons.

So what I want you to do, dear reader, is to start opening up about your own insecurities. “Live your truth,” as many say. Launch a YouTube channel discussing the one thing you’ve always tried to hide. Start a blog and pour your heart out about an insecurity that plagues your life. Go on Instagram, like Harlow, and proudly show off your flaws (that is, by the way, how she got discovered by Tyra Banks!).

In a world where everyone is trying to maintain an image of perfection, you’ll develop a following of people who will breathe a sigh of relief to finally see someone embracing their “sins” and “shortcomings.”

With this sudden new wave of followers, the possibilities are endless. Whether you’re embracing a unique part of your body or a painful past, you can make an impressive imprint on the world – touching people’s hearts along the way – while turning your defects into dollars.


  • Kimberly Gedeon

    Founder of The Melody of Melanin, Blogger, Journalist, and Creative Content Connoisseur

    Kimberly Shana Gedeon is a writer with a compelling voice who has dabbled in several areas of journalism, including co-hosting a popular radio show in England called "New York to London," reporting for a local newspaper, and writing 2,000+ professional articles for online media outlets. Holding a Master's degree in International Journalism, Kimberly not only enjoys writing about what's happening in the world today, but also self-improvement, love, millennial living, finances, and tech.