As a child, Yulianna Yussef was bullied and called “dalmatian” and “cow” because of her birthmarks.
But now she couldn’t be more proud of the dark marks on her skin and wants others to love their bodies too.
The 22-year-old posts body-positive photos on Instagram, with inspiring captions such as: “I was born different. You were born different. We are all born different. Don’t be afraid to be yourself.”
She tags the images #bareyourbirthmark and encourages her 18,000 followers to do the same.
Yussef was born with a skin condition called congenital melanocytic nevus (CMN).
According to Caring Matters Now, a charity dedicated to providing support to people with CMN and their parents, these birthmarks occur when the “development of pigment cells does not happen in a normal way”.
“Instead of flowing out smoothly and evenly into the skin, too many immature cells develop and persist in a large group,” the site explains.
As a child and teenager, Yussef was bullied because her skin didn’t look like everyone else’s.
But now she wants to end stigma surrounding skin conditions.
“I’m using my Facebook and Instagram accounts to share my thoughts about CMN,” she told Metro.
“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.”
Hundreds of people have commented on Yussef’s photos, with many saying she has made them feel proud of their own skin.
Instagram user Kristina Wallace said: “I too have a birthmark and it is over half of my body, I have suffered severe anxiety and have no self confidence because of it. I’ve never been swimming or holiday in fear of wearing a swimsuit and people stare in summer [when] I wear trousers and jumpers.
“But looking at your page has made me realise how I shouldn’t feel this way we are all in beautiful in our own ways and a birthmark is nothing to be ashamed of. Thank you for being so inspiring.”
Danielle Bestoso added: “Thank you for posting. My daughter was just born with a cape nevus with lots of spots and it is so so encouraging to see such a gorgeous woman who is strong and confident with her birthmarks.”