A model with a large facial birthmark that is often confused for a tattoo has decided to show off her unusual mark to prove to others that differences are beautiful.
Mariana Mendes, 24 from Juiz de Fora, Brazil, was born with the large congenital melanocytic nevus, which forms a dark mark stretching across her face.
Growing up Mariana was told that the unusual mark was ‘ugly’ or ‘strange’, but she refused to let it get her down and instead chose to view her birthmark as unique.
Concerned she may be bullied, at five-year’s old Mariana’s mother consented to her daughter undergoing three laser surgery treatments to try to reduce the appearance of her nevus. But the results of the sessions had very little effect, something Mariana now says she’s glad about because the defining mark is part of her make up.
Since then, Mariana has always refused to be embarrassed about her unusual birthmark and now, as a celebration of her difference she has decided to show it off in a series of stunning modelling shots.
“I feel more beautiful and totally different from other people because I have a nevus,” she told Daily Mail.
“Having a nevus that is as large as mine is not common, so of course there are many people who stare and who don’t like it, but I don’t care.”
“A lot of people ask me about my birthmark, sometimes they think it’s makeup or a tattoo but I don’t mind and explain it to them,” she continues.
“Some people do like it, others don’t, some love it and others hate it – I get a very mixed response.”
And Mariana refuses to let criticism of her birthmark get to her.
“I don’t get upset if a person doesn’t like my nevus, to me it’s like any other part of my body, so I prefer to remember the praise I receive for it,” she explains.
“I’m proud of having a nevus, it’s a part of who I am and how I learned to like myself.”
According to the Primary Care Dermatology Society (PCDS) large congenital melanocytic nevi affects around 1% of babies and are usually present at birth.
Having posed for a series of empowering shots, Mariana hopes to encourage others to embrace their differences.
“I find living with a facial nevus very easy because I like it a lot and I want others to feel as confident as I do about their nevi,” she said.
“I will never be ashamed of my nevus and feel good having it.”
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