An Open Letter to the Parents of Honey-Rae: Why Being Different Is a Blessing

Dear Tanya and Adam,

When I read about the beautiful display of love you showed for your daughter by tattooing your legs, it brought tears to my eyes. What a wonderful gift to show your daughter that her birthmark makes her special and unique! As an adult woman who has a port-wine birthmark that covers the lower left side of my face, ear, chin, neck, and chest, I want you to know that your daughter’s birthmark is a blessing, not a curse.

Sure, as a young child, and even now at times as an adult, I will occasionally have the “why me” moments of wishing that my body was the same as everyone else’s. Why can’t I wake up with a face free of embarrassing red marks? From age eight until my early twenties, I underwent regular laser surgeries in the hopes that my birthmark would fade away. Although it lightened a bit, it never went away. And looking back, I’m actual glad. If a cure came out tomorrow that would erase my birthmark for good, I’m not sure I would part with it. This red mark is a part of who I am, and it makes me unique and special, just like your daughter’s birthmark makes her. In fact, in a strange way, I have many reasons to be thankful that I was blessed with a birthmark. Whenever anyone looks strangely at your daughter, or if someone teases her in school, before becoming too upset for her, please keep the following in mind:

Having a birthmark has shown me what real beauty truly is in others.

Others will love you for the real you, not for what they just see on the outside, but the beauty that shines from within. If someone dislikes you or avoids you because your mark makes them uncomfortable, that just shows you what type of person they really are inside. A true friend is someone who sees past any physical imperfections and instead, embraces the entire you- the special you from the inside out. Someone who only wants to be with you for your looks, isn’t a true friend at all. Your birthmark just helps you to weed these people out of your life faster than others can. Those around you, who notice you, and not your mark, are the people worth surrounding yourself with. The others don’t matter.

 My skin may be red, but it’s very tough

From a very young age, people will notice your daughter’s birthmark. Some may stare. Some may make ignorant comments. Some are just curious. But the fact is, she won’t be oblivious to these stares. She will feel them. She will see them out the corner of her eye. When she walks into a room and sees people whispering, she will wonder if they are looking at her birthmark. I’ve been there. I’ve experienced it. It makes you self-conscience and at times; it makes you want to hide. But after a while, it makes you stronger. You learn that no matter what other people think, you have every right to belong. You can achieve anything you set your mind to. You are just as good as anyone else, no matter what your skin looks like. You quickly learn to ignore the stares and whispers. You learn that what others think doesn’t matter. You start to focus on you, and what you need to do to better yourself and rise above the whispers and stares. You learn to brush it off. You learn that you wont be accepted everywhere always and that’s OK. Others can show prejudice, but that doesn’t define you. Only you get to define who you will be, where you will go in life, and what you will achieve.

 I’ve learned not to judge a book by its cover

Just as I don’t want others to judge me because I have a birthmark, I have learned not to judge others solely on looks. It can be hard at times. You may see someone who is overweight and assume they are lazy. But did you know they have already lost 100 pounds and kill themselves at the gym everyday? Or what about that person you see who always looks disheveled? Did you know they spend every minute of the day caring for a dying loved one and don’t have time to care for themselves? The women with bad hair- maybe she is trying to manage the early stages of alopecia.

The truth is, when we judge someone on face value alone, we are missing out on so much. We have no idea why someone looks the way they do. And really- does it matter? So what if someone is overweight or has bad hair or bad skin. Does that make them a lesser person then us? Are they less deserving of our love or respect? Absolutely not! When you are one of the “judged” people, you look at others in a different light. You don’t just judge them by looks alone, but you look deeper and try to think about the entire person versus what one can just see on the outside alone. By doing so, you are able to befriend some amazing individuals who bring so much to your life, who you may have otherwise avoided due to face value alone.

Most importantly, I’ve learned to love myself for me.

What makes me different makes me special. Every scar, every mark, every wrinkle, every wart we all have tells a story about us. It makes us our own perfectly unique individual. There’s not one other person exactly like you in this world. You bring to the world something no one else on this planet does, and you can use that uniqueness to bless those around you. Looks fade, bodies change, but the real you – what’s inside- is what stays the same. Embrace the real you, share it with others, and never, for one second, think you are anything less than the incredible person that you are. A mark on your body, whether it’s on your face or your leg, is just God’s way of showing the world that he wants everyone around you to notice just how truly special you are.

I know that your daughter is incredibly loved. She is a beautiful and strong child and she will grow up to be an amazing adult thanks to her supportive family. If at any time, she questions herself and her worth because of what others deem a “deformity,” make sure she knows that she is not alone. Having a birthmark just enhances her live, and she will be thankful for all of the lessons it teaches her as an adult.

I hope that by writing this, as I sit here wearing makeup to cover my facial mark, you don’t think I am a hypocrite. The truth is, as an adult who works with the public, I am still self-conscience. The fear of silent whispers and stares is always there. So is it easier to cover my mark at times? Absolutely! But whether it’s covered or exposed, the lessons it has taught me are invaluable. Perhaps without a birthmark, I may not have been as tolerant of others. Perhaps I may not have considered others feelings as much as I do today. Perhaps I may not have filled my life with individuals who love me for me and don’t care about pure physical beauty as much as the beauty that lies inside. For these reasons I am thankful I am me, mark and all, and you can take solace in knowing that daughter will feel the same way about her birthmark as well.


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