24-year-old Mariana Mendes from Brazil was born with a birthmark that covers a large part of her face, but that didn’t stop her from modeling for a stunning photo shoot recently in order to make a powerful statement about what it means to be beautiful.
The birthmark, which covers part of her nose, her right eye, and her right cheek, is called congenital melanocytic nevus, and it’s estimated to affect just one in every 20,000 babies. It’s caused by an increased amount of pigment beneath the skin, which makes the affected area look darker as a result. Mariana underwent laser surgery treatments when she was just five years old in order to reduce the nevus because her mother was afraid she’d be bullied for it, but as you can see below, the stylist assistant from Juiz de Fora couldn’t be more proud of being different.
“I feel more beautiful and totally different from other people because I have a nevus,” said Mariana. “There are many people who stare and who don’t like it, but I don’t care. I have been told by a few people that it’s “ugly” or “strange”, but it doesn’t bother me. That’s just their opinion and I think it’s beautiful. 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. I’m proud of having a nevus, it’s a part of who I am and how I learn to like myself.”