This Model's Makeover Sends A Powerful Message About Mental Illness

Loving someone who struggles with mental illness, be it a close friend, a family member, or a significant other, can be incredibly painful. It's never easy to watch someone you care about fight an endless battle against a condition that's beyond their control, and the lack of public understanding around psychiatric disorders makes it all the more difficult.
Wayne Kash, a Detroit-based makeup artist, recently shared before-and-after photos of a dramatic makeup transformation to Instagram, where his client (who gave him permission to use the before shot) starts with a serious black eye and leaves Kash's chair with no trace of the bruise, looking airbrushed to perfection. Neither the artist nor his subject, a model who goes by Troi, provided any context at first, but when the negative reactions started rolling in and commenters began to incorrectly speculate on the injury's cause, Troi took to her own Instagram to clear the air — and to shed some light on a very real and very important issue.
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"Unless you live or have lived in a house with a mentally ill person, you wouldn't understand this picture nor my injury," she wrote, alongside the same before-and-after close-ups. "Unfortunately, my brother suffers from a severe mental illness called Schizoaffective Disorder (google it) and I just so happened to be in the way when he flipped out." She was completely caught off guard, she said, because her brother had never laid a hand on her before, and with just two days before her 21st birthday celebrations, she was distraught.
"I cried for two days and canceled all my birthday plans. I felt ugly, I was embarrassed, I was hurt, and I knew the first thing people [were] going to think was that I got abused or that I got beat up," Troi said. "I just wanted to feel beautiful for my 21st birthday and @thee.waynekash made that happen for me. Thank you so much for that."
At first, Troi, who's also a boxer, told Kash that her injury came from a tussle in the ring, so even he was surprised by her confession. "I can't imagine the amount of bravery it must have taken for her to disclose the real story behind her bruise," Kash wrote on his own Instagram. "We don't take mental illness [seriously], especially in the African American community. So I commend her for her bravery and I stand with her as she continues on living a healthy and happy life."

#Day2 with my beautiful, BRAVE, and spectacular client @thereal_troi 😍😍😍❤️ The other day before she came in she told me not be shocked because she was a fighter and she had a bruise. When she came in she had an amazingly kind spirit and I asked her if we could take some before photographs because I knew I would be able to cover the bruise. She agreed and she also let me decide on the look. We both knew the before and after picture would be great for advertisement. We never imagined the image would go viral. After receiving so many harsh and negative comments from internet TROLLS @thereal_troi decided to disclose where the bruise actually came from. Her brother who suffers from mental illness had an episode and she was accidentally injured. She never lied to me. She is a fighter, a boxer. There are pictures on her page. I just assumed that that's where the scar came from. I can't imagine the amount of bravery it must have taken for her to disclose the real story behind her bruise. We don't take mental illness serious, especially in the African American community. So I commend her for her bravery and I stand with her as she continues on living a healthy and happy life. Your negative comments are ignored and her spirit isn't broken by the ignorance. She wanted to be beautiful for her birthday despite what she'd been through. Black women are the strongest creatures on this planet. So if you're going to say anything, talk about the fact that she's STILL STANDING AND STILL SMILING. Look at that smile, there's God in it! ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ #quithating

A post shared by 24 | Detroit Makeup Artist 💪🏾✨ (@thee.waynekash) on

We may never be able to eradicate mental illness, but we can eradicate the stigma, and the only way to do that is by talking about it. Troi's decision to publicly share an otherwise private part of her life is exactly the kind of progress that helps us move forward, and having compassionate people like Kash speak out to show their support takes it one step further. Hopefully Troi's experience will help her followers learn a little more about mental illness — and how they, too, can help make the world a better place for both the people who struggle with it and the people who love them.
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