What Would You Do If You Had To Live With A Birthmark As Big As This?

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We know our answer: rock it out like a bosslady and copy the example of our new hero, Los Angeles-based dancer Cassandra Naud.

It’s no secret we live in an age where beauty is an obsession. When we turn on the TV we see ads about diets and magic pills to make us lose weight. When we drive around our cities we see billboards advertising plastic surgery, liposuction and other types of services that let you buy your way into looking like someone else.

Flip open the pages of a magazine and we are bombarded with homogenous ideals of beauty where every model is airbrushed to perfection, without a wrinkle, lump, bump, scratch or scar in sight.

The message is loud and clear: we are told beauty is looking like something we are not. But is that really what beauty should be? It’s a shame that this is what we have been brainwashed to believe is “normal” (unrealistic would be a much better word) because when we see disabled models walk down a NYFW runway, or a 60+ woman modeling for a major brand, we look at this as somewhat of an anomaly, but it shouldn’t be.

Which is why we were so drawn to this story on Cassandra Naud because we believe in sharing different representations of beauty in the hope that we can play our part in normalizing them.

The 22 year old originally from Alberta, Canada, refuses to have plastic surgery to remove a birthmark covering most of her right cheek. In fact she was once told by an agent to digitally erase it from her headshots, but that just made her want to embrace it more.

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Also as an aside, why would you digitally erase something from your headshot that people are going to see in person when they meet you anyway? Sounds like a ridiculous suggestion to us…

“My birthmark is a huge part of me. It makes me unique and memorable, which is especially important for the career I’ve chosen,” Cassandra told the Daily Mail.

Cassandra was born with the birthmark, and although her parents had the choice to remove it when she was little, they decided against it as they didn’t want her to live with excessive scarring. She doesn’t regret her parent’s choice one bit.

“As my birthmark sunk through several layers of skin, plastic surgery was the only option for removal. Doctors gave my parents a choice, warning them there could be scarring or I could be left with a lazy eye. I’m so glad my parents chose to leave my birthmark as it’s part of who I am. Having a birthmark distinguishes me – and I don’t feel that it has ever held me back,” she said.

Because she is so confident in herself and doesn’t see a birthmark as any reason to shrink back in life, she says the reactions she gets from people today aren’t that negative.

“People come up to me in the street and ask me about it. I don’t shy away from questions – it’s natural to be curious. It’s covered in hair which makes it difficult to disguise, but I honestly don’t mind. I know some people might feel sorry for me, but I’m confident in how I look,” she said.

When she was growing up it was a different story. She was taunted by bullies in school.

“They’d taunt me saying: ‘You’ll get beat up in high school’ and ‘The hair on your cheek is gross’.”

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‘Their cruel remarks were hard to deal with and I’d often fight back tears. I felt ugly – even if only for that moment – and I was terrified of how I’d be treated once I got to high school.”

It did get to her at one stage when she was 13 and she asked her parents to schedule plastic surgery to remove the birthmark. But once she heard that it would leave her with major scarring, she changed her mind.

It was then Cassandra started to realize her confidence and happiness wouldn’t come from changing her appearance, but her outlook. She threw herself into her passion of performing arts, studying dance theater at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in Los Angeles.

Ever since graduating in 2014 she has worked as a professional dancer appearing in various promotional spots including one for ESPN. Although she would love to work more in kids entertainment, having done some for Nickelodeon, she knows her appearance would be a deterrent for some.

“A lot of roles require the performers to have a certain appearance. I’m never going to be hired by Disney, for example, because they want the ‘perfect’ look but I’m OK with that,” she said. That statement right there is why Disney SHOULD hire her because she is setting a great example.

Being a role model and using her story is something that is important to her and she knows she has been given a unique gift in her birthmark. Her message to others is to embrace who you are.

“People should appreciate their individuality. Times are changing, so don’t worry about looking normal. Don’t let bullies stop you and be proud of your uniqueness.”

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