Paige Billiot hopes to inspire people to embrace their “flaws” (photo: Paige Billiot)
Most people in Hollywood try to hide their flaws, but Los Angeles actress and filmmaker Paige Billiot is putting her birthmark front and center.
Billiot was born with a port-wine stain on her face, which affects three out of every 1,000 people. Although it’s not fully understood what causes them, one theory is that there’s a problem regulating blood flow in the capillaries, so blood vessels don’t constrict normally and stay permanently dilated, according to the Vascular Birthmarks Foundation. That creates a permanent pink, red, or purple patch of skin.
The actress going makeup-free (photo: Paige Billiot/Instagram)
There’s no cure for port-wine stains. Some use pulsed-dye laser treatments to lighten them (although they can come back) or heavy-duty makeup to camouflage them. Billiot proudly embraces her birthmark and doesn’t try to hide it. But it wasn’t always that way.
“When I was younger, the birthmark was hard for me to deal with,” she told the Daily Mail. “It was part of feeling vulnerable. I experienced a lot of verbal bullying and name calling. Sometimes it even got physical. We moved around a lot so I had to explain over and over again when a child asked what it was.”
In this shot, Billiot lightly outlined her birthmark to accentuate it (photo: Paige Billiot/Instagram)
Rather than letting that get her down, the 23-year-old decided to face things head on. “In the end, the moving helped,” she said. “I got sick of answering the same questions and stood up in front of class and I introduced myself. After that, stares stopped and it helped me accept it more. Now it’s part of who I am, and I don’t see myself without it anymore.”
Related: The Epidemic of Appearance Shaming
About a year ago, Billiot launched the Flawless Affect, a blog and Instagram project dedicated to reducing the stigma of so-called “flaws.” For the project, Billiot worked with photographers and artists to create photos that accentuated her birthmark in different ways. Billiot hopes to encourage others to celebrate their own individuality and captions her photos with positive messages, such as: “Always know your #flaw is part of your #life. Remember that you’re #flawless no matter what.”
The actress looking ethereal (photo: Paige Billiot/Instagram)
“The whole goal of Flawless Affect is to redefine beauty and change the perspective of what a flaw is,” Billiot tells Yahoo Beauty. “I’m hoping that people will look at these photos and have a better understanding that whatever makes them different is simply beautifully unique.”
She adds: “The way we’re able to highlight a flaw in such a creative way will hopefully help erase any negative stigma one has imposed on themselves. I hope people accept themselves no matter how different they are and embrace that.”