(Photo: Courtesy of the author)
As I started my blog, I looked for others who had a facial port-wine stain birthmark just like mine, and you know what? I wasn’t the only one! I found many, and as empowering as that felt, I couldn’t help but wonder about their story, their journey through this beautifully Marked life. Did they have the same experiences as me? Did they grow up loving it or hating it? I realized everyone’s story was different. Different experiences, different circumstances. But we all had one thing in common: this journey isn’t an easy one.
We all got bullied at one time or another, we all have been stared at and asked some of the same questions: “What happened?” “What’s wrong?” Some of us had a harder time with it and still do. A few have medical issues that come with a port-wine stain. Some choose to embrace and love what makes us different, some choose to cover it up with makeup, some choose not to. And you know what? That’s OK! No matter what our circumstances are, we aren’t alone. And that is an amazing feeling.
I asked my Instagram friends with birthmarks this question: How do we feel about our birthmark? Here are some of their answers:
birthmark_: I love showing my birthmark. It makes me who I am and I hate covering it up because I’d rather choose showing my real self. It’s made me a stronger person and I’m proud of my birthmark.
Isabellabakhshi: Sometimes I don’t like my birthmark because I have the feeling people can’t handle it, but then I think of my friends and about the reason they accept me as the person I am with my birthmark. So actually I like to be different because you’ll find people who look on the inside of you!
Gabby_the_grump: Hmmm. Well, how I feel about my birthmark is malleable. Some days I think “I am different, and I am awesome! It’s so cool that I can be an example to other people that they should embrace the things that make them unique.” Other days I might hopelessly cry because I got asked for the thousandth time who hit me or what’s wrong with my face. Honestly it’s not something I’m naturally happy about. Sometimes I have to force myself to be positive about it.
Beautifully_marked_: From hating it as a child to absolutely loving it now, I still have hard days most definitely. But I know who I am. I am kind, beautiful, strong and caring with our without my birthmark.
It’s not all rainbows and puppy dogs. There are good days and bad days. I’ve learned self confidence does not come easy when you have a physical difference, but you know what? It’s OK to be different! And we are not alone!
Is it OK to be different?
Here are real words from real people I have contacted who personally have a birthmark.
“I always said everyone has flaws, ours are just visible.” — Linda
“It’s OK to look different because we are made the way we are. No one is exactly like everyone else, including looks and personality. We are all the way we are and it’s OK. It’s OK to be different. I hate that we live in a society that is so stressed on conformity, but the truth is we have to accept that we are all beautiful. It all starts with how you feel about yourself. ” — Katelyn
“Sometimes looking different gives you self confidence… because I think like I have nothing to lose. But some days I feel so lonely and hopeless. But in recent years I ‘ve learned how to stay strong. I’m observing people and think everybody has a problem; mine is having birthmark. It’s all about accepting who you really are and caring less what others say.” — Mücahit
My words to those with birthmarks:
The point is, do what makes you happy! Don’t let anyone decide how to feel about yourself. Don’t let the comments or stares of others change your mind (although it’s easier said than done, check out this blog post to help with that).
Be yourself! It may take time to find out and realize who you really are. It took me 10 years of covering up my birthmark, and 23 years to figure out who I am. For a lot it takes longer and some learn at a much younger age. Just don’t let fear run your life, don’t try and run away from it, face it and rise. Your happiness is your choice.
Here are my most important words to you:
It all starts with how you feel about yourself.
You don’t love your birthmark? That’s OK! And believe me, it’s totally normal. The important thing is you still need to love yourself. Find out who you are and embrace it with or without your birthmark. Don’t let a mark (although very beautiful) bring you down in life; it does not define you. Your true self, who you are, your personality and how you treat others is what defines you. Love yourself first, and love of your differences will naturally follow.
My advice to parents:
I wish I learned self-confidence and how to love myself when I was younger. My mom did everything she could to help me, but it was my choice not to listen to her (typical kid and teen right? Love you, Mom!). I used makeup to cover my feelings instead of dealing with them. So if you have a young child with a birthmark, talk about it with them. All the time. Let them open up to you and teach them. Also you can read some of my other blog posts that teach you how to help and support your child).
People featured in the Instagram collage above:
I hope you enjoyed this post. As you can see, this journey is not an easy one, but I have complete confidence it’s something that can help you grow and learn from. It all starts with self love and acceptance.
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