Sorisha Naidoo opens up for the first time about the demons that drove her and how it caused her to bleach her skin in an interview with Drum Magazine.
In 2002 she was one of the top finalists in Miss India Worldwide, after winning Miss India South Africa. But her win was roundly criticized. Some people in the Indian community frowned upon a dark-skinned girl winning the beauty pageant, she explains.
“I have never shared this, but those comments really hurt me and damaged my self-esteem. I knew I was worthy to be crowned because I’m intelligent. And after so much out country had gone through in terms of racial discrimination, I was shocked people didn’t think a dark girl deserved to win.”
She wallowed in self-doubt – then decided to bleach her skin.
“The negativity really pulled me down and I fell into the public [opinion] trap. Looking back now, I regret doing it. I think I was more beautiful before. I loved who I was. It was an irrational decision.” Sorisha says there was a time when her skin became too light and had also developed vitiligo, a condition in which the skin loses its pigment cells causing discoloured patches. She looked deep within herself to find the root of her problem.
“I had to stop caring about what other people thought of me and I focused on the people who really cared about me. “I was becoming too white – my skin was almost paper-thin and I became very paranoid about my looks. I tried out almost everything that had retinol [vitamin A derivative that improves discolouration] in it and I did a lot of light peels.
“I had long meetings with my plastic surgeon, who is a highly regarded doctor in Durban, before I found a product that helped to produce melanin,” she says. She also took to learning more about skincare products by reading anything she could get her hands on and by testing it on herself.
This led to her opening the Umhlanga Laser & Aesthetic Clinic in 2012 and she opened the Chatsworth Laser & Aesthetic Clinic in April this year. And, she adds proudly, she no longer uses any toxins or chemicals on her body.
If there’s one person who’s always found her beautiful, it’s her husband. Sorisha tears up as she recounts how far she and Vivian have come together.
She was a working-class girl from Shallcross in Durban, who got a journalism degree from Rhodes University in 2001. But winning the Miss India South Africa pageant in 2002 launched her on a path to fame and fortune.
Before Sorisha and Vivian met in real life, the former beauty queen had been working at East Coast Radio as a DJ on the Saturday breakfast show.
Every Saturday, she would receive a call at the station from the businessman, asking her out to breakfast. “I knew of Vivian Reddy but I wasn’t interested because I thought he was arrogant,” she recalls. “He would persist and call every Saturday morning until one day I agreed to a coffee date.”
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