Audrey Ajakaye, a junior at Village knows first-hand how it feels to be subjected to skin related prejudice and colorism. As a young child, Audrey was often singled out for her darker skin color and hair, as well as her African origin name and ancestry.
“To support me during this distressing period of my life, my mother often would write positive affirmation notes and leave them in my uniform pocket in the morning,” Audrey explains. “These little notes of positivity gave me so much comfort that I felt I could take the day on, and I started to find my confidence as I navigated the racial and societal pressures around me.”
So, when the opportunity presented itself in Audrey’s junior year at The Village School to create an innovative project, she drew on her own personal experiences and knew she wanted to focus on how skin issues impact people’s mental health.
Months of research and exploration on her project led Audrey to create a new platform which promotes feeling beautiful and comfortable in your own skin. With the goal of making a global impact on all individuals suffering from skin-related conditions and colorism, Audrey developed the LoveMySkin™ app to give voice to everyone suffering from skin conditions and insecurities. By creating an avenue to engage in enlightening, inclusive, and meaningful discussions, LoveMySkin™ will connect users with others going through the same experiences and with experts in the field of dermatology.
Audrey explains, “My vision is to lay the groundwork for this generation to become more aware of skin-related issues and live a more full and confident life.”
At The Village School, students are encouraged to think critically, collaborate genuinely, and give of themselves generously, as they prepare to lead the next generation into an ever-changing world. Having spent many years as a student at the Village, Audrey’s exposure to Village’s multicultural student body and diversity of thought helped further her deep curiosity in hair, skin, and nails.
“The Village teachers support us as students to be inquisitive and innovative learners who think critically. My experience here at Village fostered my resolve to study the field of dermatology and associated neuropsychological and social impacts of skin color and conditions,” she says.
As a critical thinker, Audrey drew on the principles she learned at Village to draw her own conclusions around the connection between the skin and mind, and aaims to utilize her app to help all users thrive including people of color and those with darker skin tones like her own.
As she explains, “I believe that the mind and the skin are intricately intertwined. I learned through my research that approximately 30% of all dermatology patients have some form of underlying mental health issues that often goes unaddressed. However, I believe, that if the skin condition is treated holistically it can have a positive impact on the patient’s mental wellbeing and the condition itself.”
When Audrey isn’t advocating for skin positivity and doing her part to make an impact on those living with skin conditions, she can be found on the volleyball court as a member of the varsity volleyball team or working as the Editor-in-chief of the Viking yearbook. Audrey was also the founder of The Village School’s Key Club, and is a member of both the National Honor Society and Math Honor Society.
“I owe a big thank you to my parents who always supported me in building my confidence regarding skin positivity and colorism, while instilling in me the virtues of hard work, giving back to others, and living a full and fruitful life.”