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'What I Saw in the Mirror Was a Monster': Boy Cruelly Mocked for His Looks Becomes Famous Years Later

Salwa Nadeem
Sep 06, 2022
10:00 P.M.
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When James McLeod was 18 months old, his mother noticed a strange white spot on his face that grew bigger with time. The doctors diagnosed him with a life-changing condition that shattered his confidence as a child.

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Every day, we behold our reflection in the mirror and try to look as good as possible by concealing our dark circles and applying hairspray to make the perfect hairstyle. Most of us follow this daily routine because looking good makes us feel better.

The boy in today's story dreaded looking at himself in the mirror because of his appearance. But while his schoolmates brought his confidence down by bullying him, his mother never missed a chance to tell him how beautiful he was.

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A White Spot

40-year-old James McLeod opened up about his difficult past as a child and what he did to overcome his fears. It all started when a white spot appeared on his face when he was 18 months old.

Worried, his mother took him to the hospital after noticing that the spot got bigger with time. Her son's doctor diagnosed him with vitiligo, which causes some parts of the skin to turn white due to a lack of pigment.

With time, the spot on McLeod's face grew and eventually covered half his face. As a toddler, he didn't think much about it, but growing older made him question what had happened to his face. He could see his face was way different than that of other children.

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People Had Questions

"My mom always used to reassure me nothing's wrong with me," McLeod recalled. While growing up, he told people it was a birthmark or a beauty mark. He said his mother "loved him no matter what," but other people had a hard time understanding what vitiligo was.

Instead of asking McLeod what his name was and how he was doing, people paid attention to the white spot on his face. Their insensitive questions badly affected McLeod's self-esteem. He recalled what others asked him:

"What happened to your face? Were you burnt? Were you in the fire?"

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The Bullying

Since McLeod's mother never treated him differently because of his physical appearance, he thought he was like other children until people started pointing out how different his skin was. He recounted:

"As a child, I was called so many names, skunk face, zebra face, cow."

"I felt like an outcast," McLeod confessed. The constant bullying had made him believe something was wrong with him. He felt he didn't belong in this world when his schoolmates excluded him from activities because of the white spot on his face.

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The Monster

The bullying and name-calling had taken a toll on little McLeod's life. It had made him believe he didn't look good to the extent that he was afraid of looking at his reflection. He said:

"I grew up thinking that what I saw in the mirror, or my reflection, was a monster."

One day, the then-seven-year-old McLeod decided to change his life. He returned from school and didn't feel like crying anymore or being scared of other people. He looked at himself in the mirror and gave himself "the stamp of approval."

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The Change

McLeod stood in front of the mirror and "confronted the 'monster.'" Suddenly, he started feeling good about himself. He felt confident in his skin, a feeling he had never experienced.

At that time, he had no idea that thousands of people would soon start following him.

After that day, McLeod went to school and always greeted his classmate with a smile, leaving them confused. He said they never bullied him after seeing how happy he was. Instead, they started calling him by his name.

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Motivating Others

While growing up, McLeod realized there was no representation for people with vitiligo, so he decided to do something about it. He said he wanted to change the world but didn't know how.

One day, he created an Instagram profile named "that-vitiligo-guy" and expressed his thoughts there. At that time, he had no idea that thousands of people would soon start following him. He uploaded videos to spread positivity, and people loved his content.

In pursuit of spreading positivity, McLeod stumbled on the opportunity to become a motivational speaker. He went to multiple schools and inspired students to accept their identities and be kind toward each other.

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She Believed in Him

Besides being a motivational speaker, McLeod is a personal trainer, a DJ, and an author. He has also written the book, "The Boy Behind the Face," in which he narrated his story.

Even after becoming famous, McLeod hasn't stopped being humble. He believes his mother is the reason behind his success because she never made him feel different because of his looks. He said:

"She always brought the best out of me. She always included me in pictures. She never looked at my vitiligo as a disability."

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McLeod's story teaches us the importance of self-confidence and that if people feel confident about themselves, no one can stop them from doing what they want.

Share this inspirational story with your friends and family to tell them about McLeod's journey. It will motivate them never to give up.

Click here to read another story about a boy with dwarfism who wept when kids mocked him at school. He became a Hollywood celebrity years later.

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