While in her mother’s restaurant in Nigeria, a pan of stifling hot oil fell off a counter and landed on nine-year-old-Shalom Nchom, causing severe burns on her face, head, shoulders and parts of her arms.
Nchom spent four months in the hospital recovering and after being released, her life changed forever.
“I started getting bullied and getting picked on because of the way I looked,” she tells EBONY.com. “Kids were not used to seeing me like that. It was like I was a whole new person.”
The teasing and constant bullying from peers put a dent in Nchom’s self-confidence, and not long after the incident, her family sent her to America to undergo a series of surgeries. During her time there, she learned how to do her makeup — a skill obtained to cover up some of her scars. She left the hospital feeling excited but once she got around her peers again her sentiments quickly changed.
True, the makeup was there but her confidence was still missing.
By the time she enrolled in middle school in Maryland, Nchom was hoping for a fresh start. However, the surgical procedures were unable to fully restore her skin and hair to its natural state, causing commentary from her peers to become even more cruel.
“It was a horrible experience, kids would call me names [like monster]. They just didn’t want to be friends with me,” Nchom says. After school, she would go home and cry questioning why this happened to her.
Looking for ways to build her confidence, Nchom found inspiration from various YouTube beauty vloggers, including the late Talia Joy, who passed away from cancer in 2013. “I remember coming across her videos and she wasn’t a burn victim, she was just bald and I was so surprised how she came on camera without her wig on,” she says. “Being relatable in that way really inspired me, if she could do it, I think I can.”
While on her continuous journey for self-confidence, Nchom identified the bright side of all that she had endured and expressed: “I was appreciative that I was still alive.”
Now, at 20 years old Nchom is one of the five fearless young women featured in the #PerfectlyMe Campaign spearheaded by Instagram, Seventeen Magazine and Hearst Digital Properties. Seventeen Magazine declared Oct. 17 as the first ever “National Body Confidence Day” and encourages its readers to participate in this movement by tagging #PerfectlyMe in their photos.
“It’s beautiful to know that me and the other four girls can be in the spotlight for being seen as beautiful and as normal as everyone else,” Nchom says. “We are all humans and we don’t want our conditions to define who we are.”
For someone that struggled most of her life to feel confident, Nchom now shows her true self on social media to thousands of people each day and is dedicated to being an active participant in telling girls her age that everyone is beautiful in their own skin. She embraces her natural beauty–scars and all–by posting pictures with and without her makeup and wigs.
And the love and support from social media has been pouring in. “I got messages from people that told me I inspired them to be fearless.”
For anyone struggling to find beauty within themselves, Nchom offers this piece of advice: “Don’t try to be someone else because that person is already taken. Be the best version of yourself. Be fearless.”
For more information on how to get involved with the #PerfectlyMe campaign, visit seventeen.com.
See more of the beautiful, fearless and confident Shalom Nchom below:
I Love Simple Clean Makeup Looks❤️ @narsissist All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation In Dark 4 @lagirlcosmetics Pro Conceal In Fawn @anastasiabeverlyhills Brow Definer In Dark Brown & Ebony @maccosmetics Highlighter In Gold Deposit @lashesbylena Lashes In Dimma @nyxcosmetics Blush In Cinnamon @gerardcosmetics Supreme Lip Creme In Wonderland @maccosmetics Lipliner In Chestnut #maccosmetics #anastasiabeverlyhills #lagirlcosmetics #lenalashes #browdefiner #narsis #nars #gerardcosmetics #gclove #herhaircompany #simplemakeup #cleanmakeup
A photo posted by Makeupbyshalom (@shalom_blac) on