Mariah wasn’t concerned at first when an unusual spot appeared on her finger.
"I didn’t even notice until it started on my face, around my nose," she explained.
But as it progressed, she was diagnosed with vitiligo, a condition that causes the loss of skin color across her body. It started when Mariah was just 13, and she’s had it ever since.
All images via Upworthy.
"I wasn’t happy when it started," she said. "I already didn’t think [I] was perfect or good enough. I didn’t have the confidence to be seen."
Being seen, though, is a big part of Mariah’s life. That’s because Mariah is a dancer, with aspirations to dance professionally.
"I was always worried that having the skin condition that I do, I wouldn’t make it as a dancer," she confessed.
"I didn’t want to be the girl with the skin condition ... I was worried that people weren’t going to watch me.”
Coping with the condition was difficult for Mariah at first. But that began to change for her when, while browsing the makeup counter at the mall, she was encouraged to try Dermablend. For the first time, Mariah could feel comfortable in her skin.
"[It] gave me the confidence to begin to pursue dancing like I did," she explained. "I wasn’t a dancer who’s dancing with vitiligo; I was one of the dancers."
Throwing herself into dance, she said, helped her confidence grow. Slowly stepping out of the background and into the spotlight, she was able to learn who she was and find her own happiness.
Through that process, something amazing happened. Instead of feeling like she had to wear makeup, she started deciding when she wanted to wear it and when she did not. It was her choice.
"It doesn’t define my beauty ... [vitiligo] actually adds to the uniqueness, and it adds something to the look," she said.
Defining beauty on her own terms, Mariah is now able to pursue her passions with confidence.
Check out her story below:
"I always thought I deserved to be in the background," she admitted. "Now, I realize that I do deserve to have my spotlight."
Mariah has embraced that spotlight, using her journey and her art to encourage others to tap into their own inner beauty. She is unafraid to take center stage. She now has ambitions to dance alongside some of the biggest artists in mainstream music.
"I can confidently say that I feel beautiful with and without makeup," she said, "because I’ve learned that Mariah is a beautiful person."
Today she uses makeup to enhance her features and embrace what she loves about herself. Now she wears make-up when she chooses to. Gone are the days when she would hide behind foundation: Now her journey is all about showing up in the world without apologies.