I Don'T Care What You Think, I Love My Facial Birthmark
Mariana Mendes has a striking facial birthmark, and she absolutely loves it.
When Mendes was born with a large birthmark stretching over her nose, right cheek, and forehead, her mother worried she would get bullied as she grew older. And when Mendes was 5 years old, her mother looked into laser procedures to remove the birthmark. After attending just three laser sessions, Mendes decided to stop the procedures. Now, Mendes, 24, tells SELF she can't imagine herself without her birthmark. "[I] wouldn't be the same."
Mendes says she's never felt insecure about her facial birthmark. Sure, she's gotten stares and weird looks from passersby. She's faced Instagram trolls who've told her that her birthmark is ugly or strange. She's even had to explain to people that her birthmark is, in fact, real—it isn't tattooed on or applied with makeup. But Mendes really doesn't mind. "You have to be the person you love most in life, [so] I've always accepted myself as I am," she says. "Your opinion of you is what should be important."
Mendes explains that she's become kind of immune to criticism over the years. She's spent so much time dealing with what other people think about her appearance, that at a certain point, she just stopped caring. She loves her birthmark, and if someone has something to say about it, that's their problem—not hers. And she hopes to help others feel as confident when it comes to their own so-called "imperfections." That's why she's always uploading new pictures of herself to Instagram—she wants to help her followers see that their unique characteristics are what make them truly beautiful. "Everyone should feel happy," she says.
Mendes (follow her at @melzitahh) uploads a new photo every day for her 10,700 Instagram followers. In each one, she's modeling her birthmark or otherwise enjoying life. "I want to encourage people not to criticize anyone," she says. "No physical characteristic should be criticized, because we're all different...The moment everyone is feeling good, we'll have a society with more happiness and love."
See some of Mariana Mendes' Instagrams below.