A sweet gal from the Ukraine wrote to me today and shared that she has the same type of birthmark that I have.
Reading her words, she told me, "I am afraid to leave the house without cosmetics. How do you live without cosmetics? I'm afraid people will laugh at me and don't want to communicate with me."
I read messages like this on a weekly basis, and my heart breaks...Every. Single. Time.
In fact, I've been in situations where people have done just that.
I've had to tell people to stop staring at me, and they've laughed as they continue their forever-long, awkward gaze.
People have told me I must be contagious, and they've even cursed in reaction to my face.
In addition, my image was once stolen, commented on by thousands of strangers writing their unkind words and opinions next to my unknown face, on the unexpected, popular Facebook post.
My heart breaks that this has to even be an issue in society - regardless of the country and culture people are born into.
But here's the thing...
In my journey, I've learned a lot.
When I went viral to over 30 million people, and endured some intense cyberbullying, I questioned many things. I remember asking myself, "Am I making life more difficult by not covering my birthmark? Should I be investing in the expensive, uncomfortable makeup, made for conditions like mine?"
It took a while, and with the help of my family and friends, I finally came to an important "ah-ha" moment.
A little foundation on my cheeks can't be the foundation of my confidence. That is not where my identity lies.
I mean, don't get me wrong. I like makeup. It's artsy and I think it's quite fun. Plenty of makeup brands sit in my own cabnent. But, I've always been taught that makeup is meant to enhance our natural beauty - not to hide it.
I am so much more than my birthmark on my face, and honestly - I think it's beautiful. Some have told me that it reminds them of a heart. Others have told me they love the ombre affect, and all the colors mixed within it.
I think it's beautiful, and hope the whole world sees it the same way one day.
Maybe you're in the same situation as the gal who messaged me - and maybe you don't even have a birthmark like ours. Maybe you've struggled with accepting your natural appearance, afraid to leave the house without a few layers of makeup on your face.
I've heard from a lot of people over the last few years, and I know she's not the only one who struggles with the same topic. Better yet, I know I'm not the only one who has struggled with the topic. Overtime, I've heard from woman who have been put in makeup at the age of two (yes - you read that right), and from women who's husbands have forced them to wear makeup to bed.
Ladies, I'm sorry that society has told us that we aren't acceptable to go out into the world just as we are.
I'm sorry that others have twisted the concept of beauty, turning it into a competitive sport, rather than treating us as a one-of-a-kind, priceless gems that we are.
I'm sorry there is an industry that has made millions off of our insecurities.
I apologize that it hasn't been reinforced enough that we can see the beauty in others, without tearing ourselves down in the process.
I wish we weren't handed a box on the day we are born, one full of society's unrealistic expectations...One that we feel we have to tightly squeeze into for the rest of our lives.
But hey. Guess what?
You're right. Others are beautiful...But can I tell you a secret?
Just because we see the beauty in other people, that doesn't make our beauty any less.
Iron sharpens iron, remember?
Regardless of what others and the world may try to tell you...
You are beautiful. (Or swagful, if you're a dude reading this.)
You are unique.
You are one-of-a kind.
You are beautifully and wonderfully made.
You are a rockstar in the skin you're in.
...And I hope you never forget that.
The Travelin Chick,