Last year a woman walked up to Chad Esau and said she would pray for his skin to turn back to normal.
Esau (22) smiled politely and then prayed for the opposite.
“It was that moment that I realised I’m not that young boy who used to pray for my (skin condition) to go away.
Esau, from Bellville-South, has come a long way from being bullied as a young boy.
These days he’s a part-time model and is vying for the title of Mr South Africa 2020 and hopes to inspire everyone who is a little different.
Vitiligo is a skin condition that causes the loss of skin colour in blotches. Michael Jackson famously tried to hide any signs of the illness, while Winnie Harlow became a top model with her unique beauty.
Esau’s Vitiligo started when he was between five and six years old. “I didn’t know what it was called at that time because the internet wasn’t as informative as it is right now. I always thought it’s “wit lewer” (white liver), that’s what people called it growing up.”
When he became a teenager he received his first phone and discovered the condition is called Vitiligo.
He always felt self-aware about the condition, but with time he started accepting it. “I can’t picture myself without my Vitiligo,” he says.
“I learned that it never mattered what people say about me growing up, it’s always been what I tell myself.”
Esau works as a barista at GrandWest and this is how his modelling career took off. He was working the night shift when a scout asked whether he wanted to start modelling.
Esau put motivational sticky notes on his wall with things he wanted to achieve and coincidentally he was focusing on a sticky note about becoming a model that specific morning.
His decision to enter Mr South Africa is one that suddenly popped into his head. “I told myself ‘no that’s ridiculous, why would I want to do modelling as big as Mr South Africa 2020’?” But later he changed his mind. “Why can’t I do this? I’ve always been a role model for family and friends growing up.”
Modelling has given him a platform to inspire more people and speak to those who are a bit different or who are bullied.
“I’m with an anti-bullying campaign called Brave Heart, which focuses on stopping bullying in schools and the work environment.
“At the end of the day we are all imperfect, but also perfect at the same time. Because if we weren’t needed in this world we wouldn’t be here. We are all imperfectly perfect.”
To vote for Chad in the Mr South Africa contest, SMS the word MRSA74 to 40439 (at R2 an SMS) or via Zapper.
More information is available on the Mr South Africa 2020 Facebook and Instagram page as well as on Chad’s Instagram page (chad_carlton_esau).
Supporters are asked to vote as many times as possible.
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