22-year-old professional dancer Cassandra Naud was born with a large birthmark under her left eye, and although she begged for an operation to remove it in her youth, she now refuses to get one – she even says that she appreciates her unique appearance and that it helps her stand out in her field.

The Alberta, Canada-based dancer was teased throughout her youth for the birthmark, which is also covered in hair (hypertrichotic), but her parents were afraid to operate on it for fear that it would leave large scars on her face. Read on for more of her story!

More info: Instagram | Twitter (h/t: aplus)

Cassandra Naud was born with a hairy birthmark under her left eye

Many have suggested that she remove it, but she refuses

In fact, she embraces her stand-out appearance

“My birthmark is a huge part of me. It makes me unique and memorable, which is especially important for the career I’ve chosen”

It hasn’t stopped her from finding love, either!

She refused plastic surgery when she learned that it may scar her face

“I don’t often face prejudice, but one agent told me to Photoshop my birthmark out of my head shots”

“Wanting to please, I agreed at first, despite feeling shocked they’d asked. But then I changed my mind”

It wasn’t always easy to be confident – Naud was teased at school

“Their cruel remarks were hard to deal with and I’d often fight back tears. I felt ugly – even if only for that moment”

“Times are changing, so don’t worry about looking normal. Don’t let bullies stop you and be proud of your uniqueness”

“Having a birthmark distinguishes me – and I don’t feel that it has ever held me back”