A young woman who has been the target of bullying since childhood now uses social media to encourage people to embrace their birthmarks and also to raise awareness.
Yulianna Yussef, a Ukrainian-Lebanese Instagram user, was bullied when she was a child because of the moles on her body. Her birthmarks are due to a rare genetic condition called congenital melanocytic nevus (CMN), a type of mole that occurs only in 1 percent of the population.
With more than 17,000 followers on her Instagram, Yussef now has a hashtag #bareyourbirthmarks to encourage others to embrace their looks.
Speaking to Metro, the 22-year-old said, “‘I’m using my Facebook and Instagram accounts to share my thoughts about CMN.
“People have reacted very well and some of them who have CMN are really grateful because they say they’ve become more confident. And now some of them are posting their photos under the hashtag too.”
A former photographer and yacht stewardess, Yussef said that her peers often used to say she looked like a cow, giraffe, or a dalmatian.
“When I was 15, my friend told me that walking with me was like walking with a monkey because everyone looked at me,” Yussef said.
She wrote: “My skin is not the same as yours, and it’s very noticeable because I’m strewn with brown spots of various sizes, which are called birthmarks.
“I was born like this. When I was born – in Ukraine – doctors didn’t give me a favourable prognosis. But my mom never gave up and didn’t listen to anyone. She was always looking for more information. You cannot even imagine how many treatments we have tried.
“I only found out when I was seven what the condition was called and how people can live with it.
“(I found out) that it’s possible to have surgery like skin grafting, but in my case, that would require more than 12 operations. So why I am writing this? In order to try to convince people once again that I and others are not “lepers.”
“There’s no need to feel an aversion towards us – everyone has birthmarks. We just have them in bigger quantities and in different sizes.”
Her photos on Instagram have received positive responses from people with birthmarks. Many said her story helped them. However, there are still some negative responses from people. Despite this, she continues in her efforts to raise awareness about the condition.
“I can still see all the emotions and disgusted feelings in some people’s faces when they look at me. Or I’ll see them telling their friends ‘look at that girl!’” she said.