Shalom Nchom was born in Nigeria, where, at the age of 9, was badly burnt by hot oil while at her family’s restaurant. Nchom suffered severe burns to her head, face, neck, and shoulders, resulting in the loss of most of her hair, a four-month hospital stay, and a future as a victim of bullying. A neighbour who used to play with Nchom “saw [her] and ran away crying”, she recalls. “People began to stare at me, or look at me in a nasty way.”

After the accident, an aunt living in America organised for Nchom and her family to immigrate to America where Nchom could receive cosmetic surgery to attempt to rectify the damage caused to her skin. Still, as Nchom settled into her new life in Maryland, she continued to be bullied by classmates. She became angry and irritable, often lashing out at those she deemed to be judging her appearance. In a recent interview with Buzzfeed, she recalled how she “felt like a living statue” that people would gawk at. Called names like ‘monster’ and ‘two-face’, the bullying got to be so bad that she started contemplating suicide. However, Nchom turned to thoughts of her mother during this trying time, saying that she “knew she would be sad to lose a child… because she felt like she already lost one”

Things began to change for Nchom when, at age 13, she met other burn victims, some who had scars much worse than her own, and discovered makeup. Initially using it as a means to hide her scars, build her confidence, and avoid bullying, she soon had classmates coming to her requesting help with their own makeup. Nchom would even charge her classmates a small fee of $5 to $25 per face.

In a video for Great Big World, Nchom insists that since she began posting her videos that she has felt as though she found her life’s mission, “I wouldn’t take [the incident] back,” she says. “This is absolutely the reason why it happened.” Despite her tutorials being about the application and techniques of makeup, Nchom says that her true, underlying focus is on positivity, and loving yourself regardless of whether or not you have makeup on, preaching that “makeup is not the reason why I am happy. I’m happy because I love myself.”

 “I wanted to stop feeling sorry for myself. And I didn’t want people to feel sorry for me. I wanted to be happy.” Now, she’s helping others by sharing her tips and performing makeovers for other burn survivors.
 But her main goal is to help others see what she has now found for herself: the beauty inside.
 “I don’t feel different whether I have makeup or not. I’m very much in tune with my looks. I see beauty regardless.”

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