A brave woman from Juiz de Fora, Brazil has a rare birthmark that people often assume is another crazy ‘facial tattoo’. 24-year-old, Mariana Mendez participated in a photo-shoot to show the world her unique mark. She refuses to hide or be ashamed of her natural beauty, as a lot of people would. In these amazing photos, you can see how she carries her birthmark with pride, owning her difference and sharing it at the same time.
Mariana was born with the large mark that covered parts of her nose, her right eye, and her right cheek.
The series of photos were made in order to encourage other people to appreciate their differences.
This is how it all started. After she was born, Mariana’s parents opted for operations to reduce the mark on her face, all of which were unsuccessful. They were mostly afraid that she was going to be bullied. Mariana, however, stands up to criticism and uses her distinction to her advantage.
In 1998, Mariana received lightening sessions to help make her birthmark less visible. Mariana adds: ‘When I was a child, for fear of me being bullied, my mother took me to the doctor for laser treatment to clear the nevus. As I only had a few sessions the results were very little and almost unnoticeable.
Mariana is a stylist assistant and speaks openly about her birthmark. She opens her heart to the media, saying: ‘I feel more beautiful and totally different from other people because I have a nevus.
“I feel more beautiful and totally different from other people because I have a nevus.
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.
Some people do like it, others don’t, some love it and others hate it – I get a very mixed response.
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.
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.
I’m proud of having a nevus, it’s a part of who I am and how I learned to like myself.”
Here she is wearing totally black outfit.
Some people comment to her that it is ugly, but Mariana thinks of it as beautiful.
Mariana as a young girl.
Mariana just wants to be appreciated the way she is.
Gladly, people who love her appreciate that.
She is trying to highlight difference and acceptance.
For her, it means accepting and loving her birthmark.
Her condition, known as a large congenital melanocytic nevus, affects one in every 20,000 births. It is caused by an increased amount of pigment beneath the skin. Mariana, although living with this condition from birth, finds it easy and comfortable. Her wish is for others to accept it, too. Her confidence is very inspirational and brave!