A woman with a rare skin condition has said that her patchy skin tone leaves men weak at the knees – and women sick with envy.
Takeisha Archbald – known as Archie – is African-American, but has white patches covering her nose, lips, breasts, knees and back.
The 37-year-old was diagnosed with vitiligo, a condition that makes the skin lose its normal pigment and develop pale marks.
While many women would dread to have the eye-catching condition, Archie loves the attention and loves flaunting her white bits.
‘Men love my skin,’ she says. ‘They come up to me all the time and ask to kiss my white spots or tie my shoes. They call me exotic and beautiful. I love it.’
But although Archie has plenty of male admirers, she often finds that women are not as flattering.
‘Women often come up to me and tell me I should cover myself up or get medical treatment. I find it really offensive – they seem more bothered by my vitiligo than I am,’ says Archie.
The mother-of-two, who is the creative director of Miss Fancy Pants, an organisation that empowers young girls, first developed the condition when she was 8 years old around her genitalia and knees.
But when she turned 27 she woke up one morning and her skin was drastically different.
White patches appeared on her face, hands, legs and bum – and they had not been there the day before.
‘My vitiligo had remained dormant for years and years and it wasn’t until I turned 27 I woke up one day and my entire face was white,’ explains Archie. ‘It was alarming and an adjustment.’
After seeking treatment Archie was diagnosed with vitiligo, but the condition is incurable.
While there are treatments available to improve the colour of the white patches, Archie refuses to change her appearance.
She was also recommended counselling to cope with the sudden change of her skin – but had no need for it.
‘They said I would have a difficult time fitting into society or that I would wake up a little bit more depressed than others. That’s never been the case, I’m still a normal woman,’ she says.
‘I do like to wear make-up and I do like to feel sexy and all those things, but not to the point where I want to cover my entire self up. I wear eyeliner and eyeshadow but I don’t wear concealer, blusher or foundation.
‘Vitiligo is who I am and I just don’t allow it to take over my life.’
Upbeat Archie is spreading her positive outlook to her two adopted daughters Alexis, 16, and Monica, 15.
‘The one thing that I can say I’ve taken away from having vitiligo is that you have to either sink or swim,’ she explains. ‘You’re either going to own it or accept it and just be confident with it or you’re going to allow it to take over every aspect of you.’