How I Found An Identity Beyond My Burn Scars

For beauty blogger and YouTuber Shalom Blac, makeup carries great meaning. When Blac was nine years old and living in Nigeria, a pot of hot oil fell on top of her and her sister at their mom's restaurant. As a result, she has scars covering much of her face and shoulders.
"For almost all my life, my identity has been tied to my scars," Blac, who came to America after the accident to get surgery on her scars, says. "I really got into makeup after getting burned because I needed some sort of substitution for my skin so my scar wouldn't be quite as noticeable."
Now a successful beauty blogger, Blac uses makeup not just to cover her scars, but as a way to connect with others. With more then 590,000 Instagram followers and one million YouTube subscribers, Blac's gone viral time and time again while being honest about her appearance. In her most-watched video, Blac takes off her wig and makeup in front of a crush. It has 13 million views thus far.
In this video with Refinery29, Blac talks about her scars and reconnecting with her Nigerian heritage, just as she's about to become an American citizen herself after 10 years in the U.S. Spending the day in Los Angeles, she visits Kutula by Africana, an L.A.-based store that combines traditional African print with modern design. She peruses the Fowler Museum to see its several hundred pieces of African art, and finishes the day at the Lula Washington Dance Theatre, where students of all ages are taught African dance and drumming.
"My parents have always stressed the importance of embracing my Nigerian heritage and today has really allowed me to do just that," Blac says. "I have seen many people here in America that are searching to connect with a culture they care for and appreciate. And to be a part of both is something I am truly proud of."
Press play above to see what Blac learned when she spent the day exploring and celebrating her roots.

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