Photography exhibition featuring people with rare skin condition is flying the flag for diversity

[Photo: Brock Elbank/Caring Matters Now]

A photography exhibition featuring people with a rare and untreatable skin condition is creating a buzz thanks to its empowering celebration of beauty in diversity.

‘How Do You C Me Now?’ is a series of 30 portraits showcasing people with Congenital Melanocytic Naevus (CMN), a condition, which is caused by a mutation in the NRAS gene.

According to the charity Caring Matters Now, CMN is a type of birthmark that typically appears in newborn babies.

It presents as large, dark brown birthmarks, which can cover up to 80% of the body, and can also appear internally.

[Photo: Brock Elbank/Caring Matters Now]
[Photo: Brock Elbank/Caring Matters Now]

READ MORE: Internet heaps praise on woman who shared image of her cancer scars on social media

Large or very numerous CMN are rare, occurring in just 1 in 20,000 births worldwide, which means people who have the condition can feel isolated and face negative comments about they way they look, causing them to lack self-confidence.

But the new exhibition aims to change that, hoping to increase the confidence of those with the condition and challenge stereotypical perceptions of beauty.

The stunning images, which were 33 months in the making, were taken by photographer Brock Elbank, best known for his ‘Beards’ and ‘Freckles’ series.

[Photo: Brock Elbank/Caring Matters Now]
[Photo: Brock Elbank/Caring Matters Now]

READ MORE: Model with facial birthmark is on a mission to help others embrace differences

Brock first came across CMN when shooting a woman with the condition for a previous shoot, so when the charity got in touch about the exhibition he was keen to be involved.

“It’s about celebrating diversity really,” he told Yahoo UK.

“Visually I knew I could do something striking for those who took part, but overall it was about educating the general public about the condition.”

Many of those photographed for the series have never revealed their birthmarks publicly before, so taking part was a massive leap of faith.

“Some people I shot are very body positive, they’re like the Winnie Harlow of CMN. So for them it was just an extension of what they do anyway and they didn’t even have to think about taking part.

“But for others it was a massive step to put themselves out there and come out of their comfort zone.

[Photo: Brock Elbank/Caring Matters Now]

Brock says part of the reason some people were so apprehensive is because of the way society can respond to difference, so the overwhelmingly positive reaction to the exhibition is to be celebrated.

“I see beauty in everything, I love diversity, but not everyone is like that, so the response has been amazing,” he says.

“It’s fantastic for them because they’ve taken a massive gamble in taking part and they had no idea how it would turn out.”

Though he’s thrilled with the response, the key thing for Brock is that the exhibition helps raise awareness about the condition.

“Its not about me its about the subject matter,” he says.

“It’s great that the message is getting out there. And I’m very happy for them.”

The How Do You C Me Now? exhibition at the Oxo Tower Wharf is now open to the public.