REAL LIFE

‘I’m proud of the skin I’m in’: Mum with port-wine stain refuses to wear makeup despite awful comments

'It’s disgusting!’ she 
hissed at me...
Supplied

Adelaide mother-of-one Kristen, 29, is proud to be unique.

Here, Kristen tells the story in her own words…

Looking up at my mum, Maree, I had a burning question.

‘Were you bothered about my birthmark when I was born?’ I asked her timidly.

My beautiful mum looked at me with a twinkle in 
her eye.

‘No, of course not Kristen,’ she said warmly. ‘You were perfect to us!’

I was 11 years old and it was the first time I remember ever talking openly about my port-wine stain birthmark.

Up to three in every 1000 people are born with these type of marks, which can appear on faces, heads, 
arms or legs.

Mine was a rosy discolouration on the left side of my face, with swirls of red that stretched across half my nose, my cheekbone and underneath my eye.

Even though I looked a bit different, I was a normal little girl in every way.

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I was born with a port-wine stain (Credit: Supplied)

A keen horserider and netballer, I loved being active.

Mum, now 55, and 
my dad, Chris, 55, made sure I loved the skin I was in.

From the age of three, I was taken to yearly laser treatments in Melbourne to make sure the birthmark didn’t spread.

The laser popped the blood vessels underneath my skin, which felt like cigarette burns.

Afterwards, I’d spend 
at least two weeks with blotchy, purple skin.

I didn’t mind too much though – it meant I got to visit my precious nanny 
who lived there!

Because my parents never made a big deal about my port-wine stain growing up, it was as normal to me as the nose on my face.

But when I got into my teenage years, and hit puberty, I started to feel self-conscious.

My schoolmates knew exactly how to target my worst insecurities.

‘Well… you have an ugly birthmark!’ they’d tease.

It hurt more to be fighting with friends than their 
petty insults though.

Thankfully, Mum and Dad would always lift me up when I was feeling down.

‘You’re beautiful and 
it makes 
you unique,’ Mum would assure me.

And even when the rest of the girls my age would pile on the make-up, I never felt the need to touch it.

I didn’t want to hide my face from the world.

Why should I? I shrugged.

It wasn’t worth the extra half-hour getting ready in 
the morning, either.

If I didn’t have a problem with how I looked, why should anyone else?

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I never felt the need to use makeup (Credit: Supplied)

Reaching 16, I stopped getting laser treatment, as 
I couldn’t afford the two-week recovery period and I didn’t want to miss work.

Not having treatment meant my birthmark got a little darker, which inevitably led to more stares and pointed comments.

Working as 
a checkout assistant, 
I was approached 
by a lady.

‘What’s on your face?’ 
she asked.

Telling her it was a birthmark, she gave me 
a withering look.

‘It’s disgusting!’ she 
hissed at me.

While I was shocked, 
I tried to ignore her 
nasty comment.

I’m not giving in to horrible people, I always decided if I ever toyed with the idea of covering it up.

Turning 21, my birthmark was getting a bit darker, so 
I started my treatment again.

But my confidence had followed me into my early 20s, when I met a boy named David, then 23.

We went for a first date walking my dog Jackson together and immediately became smitten.

We went for a first date walking my dog Jackson together and immediately became smitten.

I never spoke about my birthmark – and he never asked.

After dating for a while, we were lying in bed together.

He gently started stroking my left cheek, where my mark was.

It was such a perfect moment.

He must be fine with it! I decided, feeling so content.

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Not having treatment meant my birthmark got a little darker – before and after treatment (Credit: Supplied)

Two years after we met, David popped the question while we were on a sunset cruise in Vanuatu.

On my beautiful big day, two years later, I was proud to walk down the aisle towards the man of my dreams wearing only light wedding makeup.

Then, in 2017, we were over the moon to welcome our baby girl, Hannah.

Given my experience, I’m determined she’ll grow up loving herself just the way she is.

These days, I’m more understanding of peoples’ curiosity and staring.

I’ve had strangers come up to me in the street and tell me they know a doctor who can fix my birthmark.

‘No thank you, I’m fine with how I look,’ I’ll tell them politely.

Recently, I was at an ice-skating rink when the man behind the counter pointed it out.

‘Woah, what’s that on your face?’ he asked.

Happy to explain, I told him it was a birthmark and 
I was born with it.

‘That is the coolest thing I’ve seen. It’s like something out of X-Men!’ he replied, admiringly.

‘Thanks!’ I said, walking away with a smile on 
my face.

It was probably one of the nicest compliments I’ve had.

Now, I want my little girl to grow up in a world where she can love her flaws and feel beautiful in her own skin, just like I do.

If, one day, she asks what’s on her mummy’s face, I’ll explain it’s just a birthmark, nothing more.

After all, we’re all imperfectly perfect.

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Me with my baby girl Hannah and husband David (Credit: Supplied)

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