Yvesmark Chery noticed the first sign of vitiligo on his face in the form of a speck. He thought it was dirt and tried to rub it off. Vitiligo is an autoimmune disease where pigment-producing cells stop functioning, which results in loss of skin color along certain body joints.
Over the years it started to grow and become more and more difficult for Chery to cover up. He was bullied as a result and it took a toll on his mental health.
“There was times where I would hand money to people at the cash register and they didn’t want to touch my hands,” he explained to In The Know.
Chery credits those tough experiences as being part of his current confidence as an influencer and model. He went from being teased by classmates to starring in the second biggest billboard in New York City for Tracee Ellis Ross’ haircare line.
“You’ve got to be uncomfortable to be comfortable when it comes to modeling,” Chery said. “I learned not to internalize any of the negative reactions from people.”
He’s worked major campaigns — with H&M, Adidas and Puma, to name a few — and hasn’t let vitiligo get in the way of his success.
“Visibility is so important in the modeling industry,” Chery said. “It gives others hope if you see someone that looks like you.”
Chery also had no prior experience in modeling before he started. He said the rejection never stops being hard, but that one “yes” can open so many doors.
But until then, Chery hopes that his presence in big fashion campaigns and in Vogue Italy spreads opens doors for people who don’t normally see themselves depicted in media.
“I want to be that hope for someone else,” he said.
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