In This Skin / Part II
In This Skin
In this Skin portrays subjects with prominent birthmarks from multiple locations around the world. This series celebrates these unique skin formations whilst exploring the effects this has had on their lives and psyches.
For the full interviews and series of images please visit: http://vsco.co/natmccomas/journal
*This project was funded by the VSCO Artist Initiative grant.
Patience / Brisbane, Queensland. Australia
"I don’t think my birthmark has shaped my life. My parents didn’t raise me in any way differently, so I have always felt like everyone else (except for the fact that no one else feels the same as me). I suppose it’s given me a kind of confidence I otherwise wouldn’t have, or a belief in my nearest and dearest that they do love me unconditionally, but I always return to the thought that I would have felt this way anyway. Looking at it like that... maybe it’s shaped those around me more than it has me."
Yuri / Canberra, A.C.T. Australia
"I find it interesting that the general perception of beauty is one defined with symmetry and features that do not stand out. To me, this just means that someone is able to blend in. I think what makes anyone interesting is what sets them apart from others, whether it be a characteristic of their personality or their appearance. I like taking risks and pushing boundaries, and having a unique appearance is a feature and reflection of my personality that I like to use to challenge others to either accept, or go elsewhere for company."
Eleanor / St George, Utah. U.S.A
"Some of our funniest encounters have been when a stranger will be asking about Ellie’s arm and we won’t even realise that is what they’re talking about. Once someone asked if she’d been painting and another time a panicked mother was trying to alert us to her purple arm by suggesting the sleeve of her dress must be too tight and cutting the circulation off. Another time a lady at the grocery store suggested a topical ointment for eczema because she had “a really bad rash.” Thankfully, other people have known us for years and don’t even see her birthmark anymore." - Leigh (Eleanor’s mother)
Anthony / Rylstone, NSW. Australia
"I would describe myself as quite conservative with a passion for the simple things in life. I put on a really good front but I’m a pretty nervous person; my birthmark has nothing to do with it. Many people have asked me if it was a problem growing up with such an obvious mark. I have always answered the same. It wasn’t, as I only saw it if I saw my reflection. I can honestly say most of the time I am oblivious to it. It makes me ‘me’; it’s my own little way of being different."
Lindsay / Opelika, Alabama. U.S.A
"I can remember looking in the mirror and not liking what I saw just because of my birthmark. I hated going to the pool because of the stares. I would try to hide my birthmark with clothing or pose a certain way in pictures so you couldn’t see it. Nowadays, my best side for the camera is my birthmark side. It’s exclusive. My birthmark makes me see life so differently. It humbles me. I’m just so appreciative to have what I do because there are others with much greater problems or disabilities that make them different. Mine is only skin-deep."
Marcy / Staten Island, New York. U.S.A
"When I was born, my paternal grandparents called my maternal grandmother and told her that my parents’ union had been cursed and I was born deformed. It made for an interesting family dynamic! Growing up, I was either teased about my birthmark or my flaming red hair, and would disappear into books where no one was hurtful toward me, there were happy endings for the main character, and the villains got their just deserts. The best part of turning fifty is that I’ve realised I like me. I don’t give a rat’s ass if anyone else does – I am the only one that counts!"
Enler / Cave Creek, Arizona. U.S.A
"Enler is full of energy from the second he wakes up. He loves superheroes and dinosaurs and is constantly coming up with scenarios where he can be one of them. He is a smart, strong-willed kid and his birthmark is beautiful. He has gotten very used to talking about it and seems proud of it. Enler loves for us to tell him stories at night. Most times I’ll tell him that the male protagonist is a handsome boy with a lovely birthmark on his face, to which he says (with the sweetest voice and big eyes) ‘Just like me?’ It’s adorable." - Jewel (Emler’s mother)
Milena / Haarlem, North Holland. The Netherlands.
"When I was younger, a doctor in Serbia asked my father why he would let me walk around with a birthmark like this on my face, because “I could be very pretty”. He got mad because it was “a good choice for later”, and he thought my father was being selfish. It wasn’t always easy for me having a twin sister without a birthmark – I was bullied a lot when I was little and she was always one of the popular kids. Even though I’m not sure if my Port Wine Stain was the reason, it certainly felt like it."