There’s another shade to Fox 2 News reporter Lee Thomas, who’s brought his story to light. Little did his colleagues or anyone know that he has vitiligo. Yet, there came a time when he decided to face the issue in a way he’s never done before. Here is his thought-provoking story.
Lee Thomas, a 50-year-old Emmy Award-winning WJBK Fox 2 News reporter, had been hiding behind makeup since he learned at 25 years old that he has an incurable skin condition.
Thomas was working for WABC in New York when he started noticing white patches appearing on his scalp, nose, and on the corners of his mouth.
He consulted a doctor and was told that he had vitiligo, a skin disorder that can cause skin to lose its pigmentation.
“The doctor told me that I had vitiligo and that my skin was going to change colors. He said there was treatment but no cure,” Lee recalled, per MailOnline.
“He kept talking but I didn’t really hear much of anything else because I was in my head thinking my career was over. I was already thinking of what else I could do with my communications degree.”
Thomas later decided that he would not let his skin condition be an obstacle in his career, and covered himself up with makeup to hide it from his colleagues.
“Nobody knew I had vitiligo. I covered it for the first five years I was there,” Thomas told Yahoo Lifestyle.
“It’s a very vain society,” he explained. “We’re all worried about the way we look and the way we’re presented to people, but also, getting in television—it’s just a vain business. It’s based on looks a lot of the time. That’s what I thought I had to do to survive. It’s what most people do in life—hide imperfections.”
But when his hands started changing color, he knew he had to stop with the makeup.
“You can’t put makeup on your hands and then scratch the amount of places you’re scratching a day; I’d have brown stuff everywhere. I’d rather people think I have a disease that they can research and understand rather than to think I was dirty,” he said.
Though Thomas continued to put on makeup for his job, it was no longer for the former reason of vanity, for he had overcome that.
“I still do put it [makeup] on my face just to do the job, and especially because I do a lot of celebrity interviews,” he explained. “I’ve actually had some sit down with me and say things like, ‘What’s up with your face?’”
As he only has less than 10 minutes to conduct an interview, he chooses to hide his condition and shift the focus away from him.
Thomas has since written a bestselling book titled Turning White: A Memoir of Change, and also started a foundation, Clarity LTF, dedicated to the “mental and emotional support for people with vitiligo.”
Thomas said that there are times when people refuse to shake his hands or would stare at him because of his condition.
But he said: “I’m cool with that. It’s part of my advocacy. Let people stare; maybe they’ll seek out the information. Maybe they’ll ask me. Either way, staring is fine. Plus, I’m a reporter on TV. I want people to stare at me.”
“Because I’m in this position, I think this is where my next thing is supposed to be. It’s supposed to be about sharing and helping, and hopefully leaving the planet a little better for everybody else who comes along with vitiligo,” he added.
Watch the videos below:
She used to never leave the house without thick makeup