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Happy girl with melanin mosaic

Shades of Self

Submitted by Editor on 29 February 2024

By Callista Nnachetam

‘…from the rich, deep browns to the golden hues, the mosaic celebrates the kaleidoscope of melanin that makes us all unique. Melanin is the natural pigment that gives colour to our hair, eyes and skin in general. Mosaic, on the other hand refers to a condition where an individual has cells with different genetic makeup within their body…’


I look fondly at my best friend; Kathrine as she addresses a large gathering of over two hundred people, and I’m proud of her. She has come a long way from being embarrassed about her skin. I remember the first time I saw Kathrine. I had just been transferred from Command Secondary School, Kaduna to Command Secondary School, Iyana Ipaja, Lagos. A teacher made me stand in front of my new classmates as she introduced me as the new girl. The first person I noticed as I stepped foot into the class was Kathrine: the beautiful pattern of patches on her skin. She was seated alone at a corner without a seat mate. After the introduction, the teacher told me to sit on any of the empty seats available, and I decided to pick the one right next to Kathrine. 

Growing up till now, I was always outspoken. I was never shy to speak my mind, or to speak in front of a crowd. Kathrine was the opposite. She was glassophobic. From the moment we became seat partners, I could sense her lack of confidence about her skin. She had melanin mosaicism. As we got to know each other, Kathrine opened up about how she had always felt different and often faced judgements and mockery from others since the time she was a child. It broke my heart to see her doubt herself and hide her true radiance. 

Fully determined to help her see her worth, I embarked on a mission to help her boost her confidence and embrace her melanin mosaicism. We both spent hours researching, discussing and learning more about the condition. Together, we discovered the beauty and uniqueness it held. Armed with knowledge and a newfound sense of purpose, Kathrine decided to take a bold step forward. She mustered the courage to educate and enlighten those who may not understand melanin mosaicism, and to make those with the condition unashamedly embrace it. Kathrine began by seeking permission from the Principal to enlighten the students on the topic, weekly. She also created an online platform where she shared her personal experiences, challenges and triumphs. Also, she posted pictures of herself, showcasing the stunning patterns on her skin. Her vulnerability and authenticity touched the hearts of many, resonating with individuals who had similar struggles.

At the very young age of seventeen, Kathrine’s platform gained momentum, attracting a supportive community of people. Her confidence grew with each positive comment and message of gratitude she received. Not fully content with the weekly talk in School and an online presence, she organized workshops and seminars, where she spoke passionately about the subject, and the importance of embracing one’s distinctive features. 

Kathrine’s impact caught the attention of international organizations and local media outlets who were impressed by the positive change she was bringing about. She was invited to share her journey on television interviews and radio shows, reaching an even wider audience. Collaborating with renowned photographers and artists, they created stunning visual projects that celebrated diversity and challenged societal beauty standards. These projects showcased individuals of all backgrounds, skin tones, and body types, highlighting the beauty that exists in every person. Even though Kathrine faced criticism and negativity from the minorities who could not understand and appreciate the importance of her mission, she remained unwavering. People started sharing their own stories and experiences, finding solace and strength in her message. 

Through her determination, Kathrine transformed from a shy and insecure individual into a powerful advocate for self-love and acceptance. She became a role model for countless individuals who had once felt marginalized or unseen. One thing that stuck with me in her last assembly talk is that Melanin Mosaic represents the idea that our world is like a mosaic, with each individual’s distinctive shade of melanin, contributing to the overall richness and beauty of our collective humanity. 

Kathrine’s story serves as a reminder that confidence and self-acceptance are not determined by societal norms or expectations, but by embracing our differences, loving ourselves unconditionally, and  making others feel comfortable enough to do the same.