Being afflicted with vitiligo is a cause for concern for a lot of people given the discolored patches it leaves on one’s skin. For Malaysian photographer Nadirah Zakariya, however, she saw the disease as an opportunity to produce remarkable self-portraits, with the white marks acting as lovely patterns that seamlessly blend with vibrantly colored dresses and stylish room arrangements. In her photo series Thirty-Two, she proves that being comfortable in one’s skin equates to beauty in every sense of the word.
Prior to the series, Nadirah admitted that she had been hiding her condition for years. Turning 32 was a turning point as she finally came to terms with vitiligo and decided to photograph herself without concealing the marks. Instead of using film cameras as she usually would, she shot and edited the self-portraits using a mobile phone, and then decided to share them online. Apprehension turned into inspiration when her social media followers voiced out their approval for the images and support for the courageous photographer.
The images in Thirty-Two are characterized by vivid hues, elegant clothing, dainty props, and Nadirah’s stylish demeanor. Upon close inspection, one would notice that her skin marks blend not just with the color schemes, but also her wardrobes, the decorative objects, and even the manner in which the environments were arranged. Her keen eye for symmetry is on full display.
Furthermore, Nadirah’s fashionable representation of vitiligo comes with a powerful message: Beauty stretches far beneath one’s skin; it’s part and parcel of the soul’s very fabric. Thirty-Two intends to empower women who suffer the same condition and ultimately those who feel inadequate in the face of society’s beauty standards, and it certainly succeeds.
Nadirah Zakariya joins the likes of Canadian fashion model Winnie Harlow in raising vitiligo awareness and inspiring people who suffer from the condition. Such a noteworthy act deserves the overwhelmingly positive attention that the series is getting, and hopefully serves as an inspiration for others to do beautiful things regardless of one’s condition or situation in life.