21st Annual Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest People

The path to discovering his beauty and self-acceptance was difficult for 19-year-old Lethu. At just six months old, a devastating fire ravaged his face and hands in the township where his family resided, forever altering his life. Enduring numerous reconstructive surgeries and navigating a sense of being different while facing bullying, Lethu remained unbroken, emerging as a resilient yet kind-hearted young adult. During his formative teenage years, he wholeheartedly embraced his uniqueness, teaching himself to cultivate self-confidence and a sense of inner beauty. Harnessing his background as a driving force, Lethu became determined to achieve success to be able to help and inspire others. He beautifully states, "Embrace your true self, love yourself as you are, because if you don't, no one else will." Lethu recently launched his fashion brand line “Missteaks”—a collection of t-shirts inspired by his journey of overcoming limitations and embracing individuality. Lethu's fashion brand line is more than just clothing; it is a story of his transformation and a symbol of empowerment. With every t-shirt he creates, Lethu hopes to ignite a sense of courage and self-belief in individuals worldwide, reminding them that their unique journey is something to be celebrated.

Photo Detail
Date Uploaded: 11.2023
Photo Location: Hout Bay, South Africa
Camera: GFX 50R
Copyright: © Angelika Kollin