In 2014 Natalie McComas became the only artist in Australia to be awarded funding by VSCO's Artist Iniative to undertake her latest documentary project, In This SkinIn 2015 she spent four months travelling around the world meeting and photographing 23 of the 150+ people who had written to her sharing their stories about living this life with a prominent birthmark as a result of the below blog post (which was published in 2012 and shared over 1000 times on Facebook and multiple other social media platforms). 

*An edited version of the stories can be found here.

*You can read the back story for this project here.

Hello !

I just wanted to thank everyone for their support of the new photography series I am undertaking.

In this Skin portrays subjects with prominent birthmarks and explores the effects this has had on their lives, psyches & health. This series celebrates these unique skin formations whilst also inspiring those, who may have a similar condition, to feel special and beautiful in their own skin.

Patience Hodgson, lead singer of the Australian band The Grates, grew up with a large, rare port wine stain birthmark, otherwise known as Klippel Trenaway Sydrome, covering half of her upper body. She calls it her protective barrier…. her very own super-power : ).

“I love my birthmark’s spectrum of colour. When I’m warm it’s a kind of red-purple, like the colour of some plums and when I’m cold it’s a vivid, almost neon blue. I also like how it’s a kind of protective barrier protecting me against non-accepting and unthoughtful people.”  Patience

Thank you for all the comments and emails I have received so far and another big thank you to those who have spread the word.


I have created a Facebook group here for those of you with birthmarks who would like to connect with others and follow the project as it develops.


* You may be interested in another birthmark venture by Martha and Grant Griffin. They have written a lovely children’s book called Sam’s Birthmark. For more info check out this page.

* Here is a short, but very sweet, interview with Claire & Monica about Monica's birthmark.


77 Responses to Beautiful in this skin

  • BROOKE BELFORD SAYS:10/08/2012 at 2:43 pmI just wanted to say that I think your new project is wonderful. I, myself, have a Port Wine Stain birthmark that covers roughly 1/3 of my face, including my gums and roof of the mouth. I am 32 years old and worked most of my life either with children or in a customer service job. I am currently a stay at home mom due to health reasons. But, I came up with an answer to all those children’s questions about what was on my face a long time ago. My usual answer is that “it is like a great big red freckle”. I’ve found that this is easiest for children to understand. I, also, get a lot of looks and comments from adults. Mostly along the lines of was I burnt, in an accident, or my least favorite, have I been beaten. I grew up in a very close knit, loving family. As well as, in very close small towns. I believe that these have helped me to not be as wary about my looks, as I could have been. I am glad that you are making this project. Others need to understand that there is nothing physically wrong with a person just because they have a birthmark. It is simply a difference of pigmentation. Thank you for bringing the fact that birthmarks are beautiful and unique to others. I wish you well with this and all future projects. Sincerely, Brooke Belford
    • NAT SAYS:16/08/2012 at 8:47 amDear Brooke, thank you so much for sharing your special story. Send me an email if you are interested in being photographed for the project? It would be lovely to have you involved. Are you based in Australia?Thanks Brooke!
  • MEL SAYS:23/08/2012 at 1:58 pmHi Natalie,I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your project. I have just stumbled across this in a search and initially landed on your facebook page.It brings tears to my eyes seeing this project. One of our daughters has a haemangioma of infancy across her nose and under her eyes. She is 2 1/2 now and whilst, through treatment, her strawberry birthmark is going, we still have a long way to go with the deeper haemangioma. We are looking at surgery next year to remove the bulkiness and hoping that some laser treatment will remove the last of the strawberry birthmark.It is often the comments and looks from strangers that I find the hardest – especially when she was younger. My daughters birthmark has been unmissable, as it is right in the middle of her face, and as a mother, to watch the looks and whispers and stares from strangers at your brand new baby girl is heart wrenching.This project of yours is such a positive step and I am blessed to have found this site. I, like Brooke above, hope that through this project people can learn that birthmarks do not change who the person is. I have always been upfront and honest with people about my daughter’s birthmark, and a blessing for us is that eventually through time or surgery intervention, we are hopeful that one day – hers will be gone.In the meantime I will continue to ride this journey with my daughter and be there for her every step of the way.I just hope that I can instill in my daughter a positive sense of self and that beauty really is from within.Thank you again,
    • NAT SAYS:15/03/2013 at 4:23 pmDear Mel, Thank you so much for sharing your story!
      I truly hope that the surgery has gone well for your daughter. I have come across this new book which you may be interested in reading with your daughter:Sam’s Birthmark is about a boy with a Port Wine Stain birthmark. Books available for purchase through @March 16th. keep following the project – I hope other people’s stories will inspire you also.
      Take care!
  • AMBER SPENCER SAYS:25/09/2012 at 12:33 pmNatalie,I was born with a port wine stain on the majority of the left side of my face and I truly believe it has made me who I am today. I am 24 years old and I work as an instructional aide in a 1st and 3rd grade classroom as well as coach the local middle school soccer team! I love your project and it is amazing to know there are people out there that think birthmarks are beautiful and not something that needs to be covered up. My birthmark is very special to me and I couldn’t imagine who I would be today if I didn’t have it. Thank you for doing this project and I look forward to seeing more of it.-Amber
    • NAT SAYS:03/10/2012 at 4:39 pmDear Amber, thank you so much for getting in contact. Whereabouts are you based?? Would love for you to be involved. Maybe we could start an email conversation?
      Send me an email – that’d be great!
  • JESSICA SAYS:05/10/2012 at 7:24 amThank you so much for sharing & thanks to those who commented about your own birthmarks. It is comforting to know so many of you have grown to not only accept, but love your birthmarks. My 12 year old son was born with a port wine drain that covers 1/3 of his face and has undergone 9 laser surgeries to keep it from cobblestoning, or deforming his face. It will never go away & he will be entering a hard time in his life as he becomes a teenager, so it is comforting to know that he WILL adjust and learn to love his face the way it is. He is a beautiful boy & I don’t even see the birthmark when I look at him… But it can be hurtful when others do & children make fun and call him names… I’ll be sharing this website with him to show him he IS NOT the only one with a large birthmark & hopefully he will see the beauty in being special… Thank you again! <3
    • NAT SAYS:15/03/2013 at 4:33 pmDear Jess, thank you so much for sharing your special story. I am sure your son is a beautiful person with a big heart. I hope you keep following the series I put together and that other people’s stories will inspire him to see his SUPERPOWER as Patience would call it!
      This book may also be of interest to you: in touch! so sorry for my slow reply!
  • SIM SAYS:20/11/2012 at 10:32 pmHi natalie i m happy that you have taken this initiative. I m a girl and i also have a similar kind of portwine stain as that of singer patience hodgson in my right hand. and its really difficult for a person to grow up with such a stain. I have suffered a lot. As everywhere i go people start noticing me and some uncultured people also dare to ask what happened to ur hand/ did u burn ur hand? I also developed a social fobia. I hardly meet people. Most of the time I talk to people over internet and most of my friends are from internet. So I suggest u to make ur child learn how to face people, how to be bold enough to reply their questionaries and to totally forget that he has any disorder of skin.
    • NAT SAYS:15/03/2013 at 4:35 pmDear Sim, thank you so much for sharing your special story! I am sure you are a beautiful person! Whereabouts in the world are you based? Would you be interested in being a part of this project? Send me an email to if you are.
      Believe in yourself… believe in the SUPERPOWER you have been given to be different to everyone else!
  • KEELEY SAYS:05/12/2012 at 12:04 amI came across this website, and I have to say it makes my heart smile. I am 23 years old, and I have a port wine stain that starts at the bottom of my foot, and runs up my leg to my “butt-cheek”. Being a female, it has always been very hard for me to except my birthmark. People stare as if I am a monster. My birthmark is very beautiful, but living with it can be very difficult. I still do not wear shorts, skirts, dresses, or anything showing my leg. I think what you are doing is wonderful. I know how hard it is to be a young woman who was born a little different. I hope this project can let others know that they are not alone. It can be very damaging on people that have this. Thank you for posting about this! I think more people should know about birthmarks, so they will be more understanding when they see one.
    • NAT SAYS:15/03/2013 at 4:37 pmDear Keeley, thank you so much for sharing your story! My apologies for my slow reply!If you are at all interested in being a part of this project please let me know…send me an email
      All the best to you and your SUPERPOWER : ).
  • SARA SAYS:22/01/2013 at 12:45 amHi, this (strangers disquieting curiosity and ignorance) is such an important topic, and focusing on port wine birthmarks is a gentle way in to it. My sister had a genetic disorder and her face became disfigured with tumors, and she had a limp, and eventually became deaf because of it. Not only that, it was physically painful, the effect of growing tumors. So not only did she bear the ramifications of the disease itself, she bravely made her way in life despite it.
    As Patience pointed out, my sister attracted kind people to her as well. Her friends were those who looked past her affliction. She spent her life with her loving family enjoying sailing and swimming, and the arts. She volunteered with local environmental agencies and went to Washington DC to lobby for the Sierra Club. She was dedicated to making the world a better place and had to overcome ignorance on all levels. Thanks for reminding me of her amazing qualities.
    • NAT SAYS:15/03/2013 at 4:41 pmDear Sara, thank you for your message and sharing your sister’s story. She sounds like a beautiful person with a big heart… I hope she is doing well! Keep following the project to hear other’s stories and be inspired some more in the near future : ).
  • SARA H. SAYS:14/02/2013 at 3:36 pmI myself have a port wine birth mark on the underside of my left arm. It is beautiful! Though they are meaningless splotches, as a kid I envisioned them as snowmen, helicopters, and angels and clouds. I knew that I had something special.Today, I work as a swim instructor for young children and my students have always been very curious about my birthmark. They have come up with a lot of possible explanations for it. “Did you color on yourself??!” “Is that sunburn?” One 8 year old even asked if I was having an allergic reaction. Haha! Their creativity is so wonderful. It’s hard for me to tell them that it has always been a part of me and my arm. “Can’t you just rub it away?” They ask in confusion. It’s amazing how curiosity quickly switches to concerns when I say “no, it will never go away.” I love who I am with it. It is an element of my uniqueness. Sometimes I’ll even look down to my arm and admire its beauty. It’s fascinating to me, how it changes color when I get cold. Also amazing is that if press on it even turns lighter for a few seconds! I am fortunate to have such a sexy feature.
    • NAT SAYS:15/03/2013 at 4:43 pmDear Sara H, thank you so much for sharing your wonderful story… I too used to be a swim teacher. Children’s curiosity can be so funny sometimes! Are you interested in being a part of the project? Could you send me an email with your whereabouts and a pic to
      I would love to hear more from you.
  • MICHELLE SAYS:14/02/2013 at 7:24 pmJust wanted to say I love your picture & comments.. My daughter has large hemangioma on her face that has left her very disfigured.. Articles like this are a massive help & inspiration. I keep them all to show her when times are difficult.. P.S. you are a very pretty & brave lady for sharing. X
    • NAT SAYS:15/03/2013 at 4:44 pmDear Michelle, thank you for your message. I hope your daughter is doing well and that the stories I bring to you in the near future inspire her even more.
      I sure she glows with a big smile & heart.
      Take care.
  • DEAN CARTER SAYS:15/02/2013 at 1:50 amMy fiance stumbled across your page mearly by accident….she asked me if i would comment…….I have a large port wine stain (it covers nearly half of my face). It was VERY hard growing up and as an adult it is still problematic. …its hard to get people to take you seriously when they are afraid to look at you because it makes THEMSELVES feel uncomfortable. I have learned to live with it ( for the most part). I still have a life and even a family.
    • NAT SAYS:30/04/2013 at 3:00 pmDear Dean, thank you for sharing your story with me! I understand it must be hard sometimes. If you are interested in being a part of this series please email me at the above address and we can exchange more details that way : ). Thanks Dean
  • JEN SAYS:15/02/2013 at 6:51 pmUnlike the comments above, I don’t have a birthmark. Not even a hint of a birthmark. In fact, I hardly have any moles or freckles or anything. I’m not gloating by any stretch – in fact the opposite. I have ALWAYS wanted a birthmark or some kind of defining marks on my body as I think they are incredibly unique and beautiful. Patience is one of my favourite people – a true inspiration.
    • NAT SAYS:15/03/2013 at 4:45 pmDear Jen, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on all of this! Please keep following for more stories and pics soon.
  • HOLLY (CALIFORNIA, USA) SAYS:18/02/2013 at 5:46 amI absolutely love this photo and the comments made by Patience. My 2 year old daughter Pippa, was born with a Port Wine Stain on part of her forehead and scalp. She also has a more common birthmark on the nape of her neck as does my 10 year old daughter. The PWS is not huge but is very bright and was especially noticeable in her 1st year and 1/2 of life when she had short hair. I have never had any mean comments about it but often am asked what happened to her. Many times well meaning people would try to reassure me that it would fade or go away in time. Pippa’s birthmark is not something negative that need to be reassured about. It is part of her like her giant gray-blue eyes and her wildly stubborn personality. The sweetest thing to happen was when two beautiful 5 year old sisters from my older daughter’s Girl Scout troop asked about it. When I told them what it was they immediately wanted me to check their heads because they were hoping they had birthmarks too.Due to the possible long term health concerns of Pippa’s PWS, I did make the difficult decision to proceed with laser surgery. I felt her going through it at a young age would be easier for her. I never ever wanted her to think her birthmark was something that needed to be corrected for cosmetic reasons. As it turns out, a dozen surgeries later, as much as it sometimes fades, most of her PWS is super resilient and comes right back. Quite fitting of her! I am glad to give up on the whole thing for now. I actually felt sad the 1st time I thought it was going away. Now I know we did what we could but it’s meant to be. We just had our 4th child, Dodge, 4 month ago. Not only does he share his sisters’ birthmark on the back of his neck but he also has a large birthmark in his forehead, eyelids and nose. It’s usually not as dark as Pippa’s and his doctor thinks it may fade, but only time will tell. Nobody else is the family has any birthmarks so I’m not sure why they have them but they are special and unique to me. I realize that they may not always feel the same way. It makes me so frustrated when others with birthmarks talk about feeling fortunate to have the people in their lives who accept them for how they are, as if they are doing them some kind of favor. They are not doing you a favor. They like/love you because of who you are and that includes any birthmark or other physical feature you may have. I understand and respect wanting your physical appearance to be different than what it is. Regardless nothing about your appearance makes you less than. People are just as fortunate to have you care about them, as you are, to have them care about you. I hope all 4 of my kids grow up knowing and embracing this.
    • NAT SAYS:15/03/2013 at 4:48 pmDear Holly, thank you so much for spending the time to share your special story!
      I hope all of your children are doing well and that they gain more inspiration from this series as it progresses.
      Another things you may be interested in is a children’s book called Sam’s Birthmark’… check for more info here:
  • NICOLE READ SAYS:25/02/2013 at 9:11 pmI love this photo and I loved showing my 8 year old daughter how beautiful it is. Our daughter was born with a Nevus birthmark, a little different to the port wine stain but still a birthmark that is different in colour. And they can be anywhere over your body and all differ in size. Olivia is 8 years old and it covers all her lower back, bottom and wraps around into her groins. It is brown, tan in colour but was black when she was born.Olivia loves wearing little shorts, bikinis etc BUT does often get comments or stares. She also has freckles over her skin due to increased melanoma in her skin cells.We know our daughter is a beautiful girl, inside and out and I’m so thankful that she can look at these photos and see everyone is unique and different in their own special way.
    • NAT SAYS:15/03/2013 at 4:50 pmDear Nicole, thank you so much for your story! I bet your daughter is a beautiful, big hearted person! I hope you are doing well and that this project will inspire her some more as it progresses.
      Another thing you may be interested in is a children’s book called Sam’s Birthmark’… check for more info here:

  • PENNY STEVENS SAYS:20/04/2013 at 9:48 pmI too was born with a giant hairy nevous that was blackish brown. It covers my upper right chestand neck, right arm down to just past elbow, and upper right back. Mine was removed with 37 surgeries and body casts. They used skin from upper thighs and bottom. My graph left lots of scaring and breaks down constantly leaving large open areas that take months to heal. I was continually harrassed, made fun of, ridicualed and laughed at. I was only 5 when they began the surgeries. But I soon realized that what some of those uncaring and ignorant people didn’t matter. I learned to tell them “if you don’t like it, don’t look” I would rather they just ask instead of stare at me even to this day.
    • NAT SAYS:30/04/2013 at 3:09 pmDear Penny, thank you so much for sharing your story here! I’m sorry to hear that it was a difficult time for you growing up with so many surgeries etc. I hope things are going well for you now and that the rest of the portraits in this series inspire you also.
      Take Care!
  • JUSTLIKEBOOKS SAYS:09/03/2013 at 12:05 pmHi, hey, I don’t have a birthmark or anything, but I do have a disability–it’s not very noticeable, usually, it’s mostly internal. But anyway, that’s not my point. What I wanted to say is, I came across this pic on my dash, and it’s an absolutely stunning portrait. You’ve really captured this great expressiveness to the model, and the colors are really well-balanced.There’s a book called “Eleanor & Park,” and in the book, a young man says of Eleanor, “She never looked ‘nice’. She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.”That’s how I feel about most people, if you can really, *really* look at them. The things that make them beautiful or stunning are the *opposite* of what the media says makes you look “nice” or “pretty.”So, right, I’m definitely going to subscribe to your tumblr, because I am so excited for this project! You, Natalie, are a true artist, and I wish you the best of luck.
    • NAT SAYS:15/03/2013 at 4:52 pmHi there! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on all of this. Your comments/ quotes are wonderful and have given me a new perspective on it all also… I will definately make a point of sharing this idea with others. Take care and I hope this project continues to inspire you : )
  • ALEXANDRA HANSON SAYS:14/03/2013 at 1:49 pmNatalie thank you for shedding light on the beauty of birthmarks. I have not come across any type of art that embraces birthmarks. Its refreshing to see that someone can see past it. I too have a port wine stain that covers the entire left check on my face as well as part of my lip, in the corners of my eyes, and last but not least blotches on my stomach and back. When I was a baby my parents made the tough decision to have laser surgery done on my birthmark. 7 laser surgeries later and all it did was change the color from strawberry red to a combination of blues and purples. I used to think I was just like everyone else till I was in junior high. People would ask every were I went if my parents/ siblings hit me, if I fell of my bike, if I was in a car accident, If I was hit by a baseball bat… the list goes on and on.I felt like I had to cover and hide my face. I am now 21 and still sometimes don’t feel as beautiful as I should but seeing artwork like this makes me remember how beautiful my birthmark really is. I love your artwork and I thank you again for seeing the beauty in our flaws.
    • NAT SAYS:15/03/2013 at 4:53 pmDear Alexandra, thank you so much for sharing your story. Whereabouts are you based? Are you at all keen in being a part of the series?
      Please eml me at if you are.
      Take care and look after your SUPER POWER!
  • SUZ SAYS:23/03/2013 at 5:01 amAs an adult with KTS…THANK YOU.Thank you, thank you, thank you.For your beautiful work… for bringing awareness… for creating beauty from it.THANK YOU.
  • CHARLOTTE SAYS:10/04/2013 at 7:58 amI’ve accidentally stumbled across this website and it’s made my day. I’m 22 and have a port wine stain covering my left hand, arm, chest and neck, in fact it’s pretty much identical to patience’s. it’s amazing to see this and birthmarks being shown as a beautiful and natural thing. It’s been hard growing up and constantly being asked questions, and sometimes it’s easier to try and cover it up then to have questions asked. I think raising awareness is such an amazing thing. and I’m also happy to know I’m not alone out there, but much like everyone else, my birthmarks made me who I am today and I wouldn’t be me without it! thank you for such an amazing project that has made me feel special in my own way.
    • NAT SAYS:11/04/2013 at 11:56 amDear Charlotte, thanks so much for your sharing your thoughts…I’m so glad this has brightened your day and made you feel special, as you deserve to feel! Please send me an email at if you think you may be interested in being a part of the portraits I am doing?
      Keep in touch and make sure you join the facebook I have set up listed above…
  • MELISSA SAYS:20/04/2013 at 12:39 pmHello, I admire your work and this beautiful project you are undertaking. I have lived a life with invisible and visible “disabilities” and know the hardships and triumphs and unique ways to see things as a result. I do have a port wine mark in the front if my shin that is fairly big. It has made me extremely self-conscious all my life but less so now. I have never heard of anyone appreciating the birthmark as you are so creatively doing. Kuddos to you! Ty from Canada.
    • NAT SAYS:30/04/2013 at 3:07 pmDear Melissa, thank you for your comment and sharing your thoughts! I hope the rest of the portraits in this series inspire you also!
  • JENNIFER MAY SAYS:20/04/2013 at 1:03 pmI sent you this message on your FB page also, but just in case you didn’t see it, I wanted to thank you here too.I wanted to take a moment to thank you for your photo; beautiful in this skin. I too have a portwine stain birthmark, covering most of my right arm. It also changes colors with my body temperature.I have struggled with meeting new people, and fitting in as long as I remember. People either stare, whisper, or get quiet when they see it.I remember when I was little, I didn’t think anyone would want to marry me because of my birthmark. Now at 27, married with 2 perfect boys I now realize that “those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”Thank you for this beautiful photo. Seeing this photo helps me realize I am still beautiful, and unique too. So thank you.
    • NAT SAYS:30/04/2013 at 3:04 pmDear Jennifer, thank you for sharing your story here!! I believe you have touch based with me via email now – thank you!! Nat
  • KIM ROBISON SAYS:20/04/2013 at 11:16 pmI am 53 years old and have lived with a birthmark that goes from the tip of my toes to the top of my butt. As a child I remember the innocent teasing of other children telling me I spilt purple Kool Aid on my leg. I just laughed at them because they really could not think of anything vicious to say. My daughters, myself and family tend to forget I have it because it is just part of me, so when someone asks my daughters what is wrong with your Mom’s leg they have to ask what do you mean? When in public and wearing shorts you have the innocent children asking, out loud, to their parents, “what’s wrong with her leg?” and the parents are trying to shhhhs them. I always walk up and ask if I can explain it to them. The parents are shocked and the children are now knowledgeable, and happy there question was answered. I work with pre-school children and every spring when I start to wear sandels and shorts the children remember what it is and if there is a new child they will explain it to them, reassure them that it doesn’t hurt and encourage them to touch it. I remember as a child my parents taking me to Toronto to monitor it, but I always felt special because it was time with just my Mom and Dad (I am sixth of 7 children) and I usually got something cool! I am sure I was told the medical term for it, but I really don’t care. It is just a birthmark. My daughter, who is a twin has one on her neck. Her sister doesn’t have one. It use to just come out when she was, hot, sad or mad. It is there all the time now. I never had it looked at because it is just a birthmark. Can’t picture her with out it now.
    • NAT SAYS:30/04/2013 at 3:03 pmDear Kim, thank you so much for sharing your story! It’s great to hear the lovely perspective you have on your birthmark. Have you contacted me via email and are you interested in being a part of this project? If so, get in contact via email in the post above!
      Many thanks Kim!
  • MELISSA SAYS:21/04/2013 at 11:37 amLove it! I have a port wine stain birthmark that covers @ 85% my entire body & with 95 % of my entire head & a miracle of not having Sturge-Weber Syndrome … do have possible Klippel-Trenaunay Syndrome with my right side of my body larger then the left, the PWS is more prevalent on the right side as well … My face, head, neck, torso, legs, feet, my arms when I’m cold, it also turns shades and colors … I love telling kids that everyone is born special, just like some are born with freckles, I was born with my birthmark (to help them understand how I was born with it)! Everyone is different and is beautiful – we should never feel less than others and we should never make others feel less than us! Grateful for my mother for just raising me as any other child – special! Love you mom Mary! Other than a few years in high school when I wanted to wear facial makeup, I haven’t tried to cover my birthmark. My Birthmark is very unique and rare to cover such a large amount of my entire body. I have had many lasers tested on me, but not worth the pain, time, cost to do so – just easier to be myself and be proud of it! Thank you for doing such a wonderful project – wish I had seen this post sooner to take part in such a beautiful thing!
    • NAT SAYS:23/04/2013 at 9:53 pmDearest Melissa, thank you so much for sharing your story!! It’s not too late to be a part of the project… I’ve barely begun it! Still in the planning phase… still have visions of reaching all the people who have contacted me around the world! So send me an email so we can keep in contact and exchange more details!
  • NICOLE BUTLER SAYS:21/04/2013 at 3:36 pmNatalie,I nearly cried when I saw this link in my email. My friend Kristina sent it to me because she said it contributed to my beauty. My beauty mark is a port-wine stain hemangioma that covers half of my left arm from shoulder blade to fingertips. From the time I started speaking I knew what I had and I knew that it made me special. My Mom’s favorite story to tell is when a lady came up to my Mom in a store and asked her in front of a four-year old me if I was burned. “Little Nicole” planted her hands on her hips and advised the lady that first of all, she was stupid. Secondly, I told her that God gave me this beauty mark because I was a special girl.My defense mechanisms grew from there. Cheerleaders would tell me that if they had a birthmark like mine that they would wear long sleeves and gloves everyday. My go-to response was that it was a lucky thing that I wasn’t as vain as they were. I was nicknamed Kool-aid stain in Junior High School. In my adolescent years I can recall tracing the outline of it with a black magic marker. OOPS! Then, in a college photography class, my black and white self-portrait was of me sitting on the floor, painting my birthmark in white paint. Well, actually it was toothpaste, but I improvised. That picture still hangs in my bedroom today.My friends and families always felt that they had to defend my honor when an outsider would gawk or question what it was and why did I always wear tank tops and short-sleeves? When I was in my twenties I worked in an office. I opened up the door for a customer with my left arm. She took one look at my arm and looked up at me horrified and asked, “What’s wrong with you?” I was already having an off day, so I started scratching at it and said, “I don’t know, but does it look infected to you?” Once I apologized for being rude, and told her what it actually was; she gave me an apology in return for being so ignorant.I am now in my mid-thirties and have recently started working with a tattoo artist to “fill-in” the naked parts of my birthmark with flowers. He is allowing my birthmark to dictate where the flowers are placed. It looks like my birthmark is embracing the flowers and vice versa. My intention was to celebrate my special beauty mark. For no one will ever have one that looks just like mine.Thank you so much for celebrating these unique marks of beauty. My hope is that by educating the population, it will kill the ignorance and distaste. After all, it’s just a different color of skin…nothing more, nothing less.My applause to you and your collection of beauty!
    • NAT SAYS:23/04/2013 at 9:51 pmDearest Nikki! Thank you so much for sharing your story… I love it! I would love for you to be a part of the portraits series – Have you sent me an email also? Please do so so we can keep in touch as the project progresses! Many thanks Nikki!
  • MISTY SAYS:23/04/2013 at 8:56 amI am getting married this summer in August. I have a port wine stain covering my right hand, arm, and chest. I have an arsenal of long sleeve shirts and sweaters that I wear even in the dead heat of summer. After endlessly searching for the perfect dress, one with full sleeves…I find this photo. Wow, thank you. I am changing what I am looking for. This is beautiful.
    • NAT SAYS:23/04/2013 at 9:47 pmHi dear Misty… I’m so glad you have been inspired by this!! Send me an email if you haven’t already and if you are keen to be a part of it all… All the best to you for your wedding day!
  • SANDRA CARREIRA SAYS:29/04/2013 at 2:53 amDear Natalie,
    my name is Sandra and I’m 32 years old and I was born with a port wine stain that covers a large part of my right face. I came across this website almost by accident and I am so happy I did! It brought tears to my eyes to see how many people share this condition. Growing up I remember thinking that I was so different from all the other kids and I always felt I wasn’t good enough. And when I became an adolescent it become so much worse because I was even more aware of the way I looked. Also I was bullied and I remember beeing called very nasty names and crying myself to sleep so many times. As I grew older I learned to deal with ignorance from others (that’s what I learned, most of the times people are just beeing ignorant) but sometimes is hard when you have someone coming to you on the street asking you “oh poor you, what happen to your face? Were you burnt ?” And this happens wherever I go. I am from Portugal but also lived in the UK and currently I am living in Ireland, in Dublin and no matter were I go I still feel that look on people’s faces when they see me for the first time. And altough at times I feel unconfortable I’ve learned to deal with it and sometimes I even forget I have a birthmark on my face and find myself wondering “why is that lady staring at me for the last 5 minutes??” Until it hits me… And I can’t help myself from smilling.
    Altough I now laugh it out I can’t forget the path I’ve been through to get where I am today. I feel that I am really lucky to be the way I am and I’ve grown up to be a very strong and resilient person who cherishes all the things I’ve conquered in my life.
    I am so happy for this project to be happening because it’s a great opportunity to show the world how life changing and demanding beeing born with some kind of birthmark, or just how beeing different phisically, is.
    And yes, I feel the POWER!
    Than you so much!
    Sincerely,Sandra C.
    • NAT SAYS:30/04/2013 at 3:11 pmDear Sandra, thank you for sharing your story here and thank you for following up with an email! I’m so glad it has inspired you!! We will keep in contact : )
  • AUTUMN SAYS:09/05/2013 at 3:10 amDear Natalie. My 2 year old daughter was born with a birthmark very similar to yours. I came across your website and was in a sense relieved to see a beautiful young woman not afraid to be herself. I only pray my little girl is as confident in her own skin, as you are in yours. Thank you.
  • HANNAH SAYS:09/07/2013 at 1:56 pmI love this idea. I grew up and am still living with a port wine stain that covers one entire leg right up to my lower back and a whole arm on the other side of my body. I’ve never run into anyone else with quite the same mark, and have never known anyone who has had to deal with quite so extensive a birthmark personally, so it is great to be able to connect, even just over the web, with other people who share a positive outlook on their little flaws. I have been lucky enough to have an amazing support group who have helped me shrug off all of the passing comments on my arm and leg over the years. My mother used to tell me when I’d complain about it that if I didn’t have my birthmark, I’d just be too perfect, and my boyfriend tells me time and again that my marked arm and leg are his favorite. I have taken to affectionately calling them my ‘zombie’ arm and leg, and used to explain to people that it was a capillary mutation, kind of like the X-Men, when I was a kid. Thank you for starting up this project, and I hope it brings strength and comfort to people like me, and understanding to those who might have otherwise passed judgement.
  • JOCEE SAYS:09/07/2013 at 2:05 pmi think she’s just beautiful.
  • REYNA SAYS:10/07/2013 at 1:45 amWow! This has really opened my eyes in some ways. I love how patience sees her birth mark as a super power! I have the EXACT same birthmark on my left hand same going down part of my neck and chest and I had a really hard time growing up in elementary and going on to high school. It’s still is tough and I still hide it about 99% of the time but sometimes I wish I could not care about what people say. It’s hard but god made me this way. I hope one day to have the confidence she has.
  • BRIANNE SMITH SAYS:10/07/2013 at 5:21 amI stumbled across this completely by accident….I have a port wine stain scattered across my entire left arm and hand. This was so inspiring to read as well as all the comments,as I’ve struggled my entire life learning how to deal with it and accept myself. You tell yourself it’s just a birthmark but some people look at you completely different because of it…..thanks for all of this it was such a blessing to come across it!
  • SHANTIH SAYS:17/07/2013 at 7:18 pmDear Natalie,I love that you’re doing this! I have a large hemangioma covering the majority of the right side of my face, and all though I have grown up with many supportive people around me, sometimes it’s hard to deal with the stares and questions I get. People come up with the most obscure ways in which I could have gotten the mark on my face. I have never gotten any type of treatment or covered up my birthmark. Even though I understand that some people are more comfortable with out their birthmarks, in some ways it disappoints me to hear that they feel that they can’t be who they are and love their birthmarks as Patience has done so admirably. I still find myself subconsciously covering the side of my face with my hair, but everyday I try to embrace my unique birthmark. I’m still trying to love mine! I have been looking for someone who is doing a project like this for a long time and I am so inspired by all the people who have posted here. I enjoy your photography and I hope you continue this project!
  • CORENNA SAYS:14/08/2013 at 10:21 amThis picture is truly beautiful!
    I’ve struggled my whole life with a birthmark that is splatted over most of my body. I’ve never really been able to accept that this is the way I am. Reading all of these comments from people who have been through or are going through the same experience is very inspiring…Thank you
    • NAT SAYS:15/05/2014 at 4:05 pmHi Corenna, Thank you so much for commenting on this post. I would love to know more about you and your birthmark and where you are in the world. If you’d like to be involved please email me at
  • ISABELLI SAYS:22/09/2013 at 12:33 pmHello, Natalie! My name is Isabelli, I’m twenty-three and I’m from Brazil. I have a port wine stain on the right side of the face and whole life I have been suffering with it. Suffering with nasty nicknames and looks indiscretos.Porém is good to know that there are people like you are able to undertake projects as beautiful as this.
    Even though I did not participate, I’m happy for her initiative. Congratulations.
    • NAT SAYS:15/05/2014 at 4:03 pmHi Isabelli, Thank you so much for commenting on this post. It sounds like you’ve had a real journey with yourself and your birthmark. I haven’t actually begun photographing for the project, so if you’d like to be involved please email me
  • DAYNA GINGER SAYS:15/10/2013 at 12:48 pmI know this comment is a little late in the game, but I had to anyway. This is absolutely gorgeous. It gives me great hope that there are courageous people in the world willing to share their beautiful birthmarks. When I was 3 I was diagnosed with Klippel Trénaunay Weber Syndrome also. It covers more than 75 percent of my body, not only with port wine stains but varicose vein, hypertrophy and hemangiomas. Living with this sydndrome at any age isn’t easy, but when you are a child it could be severely detrimental to your well being. I quickly learned that if I wanted to be at all like normal kids, I would have to hide myself. It has been 15 years of hiding that it took me to realize I shouldn’t have to “hide” at all. I am 25 now, and I’ve learned to embrace the stares and double takes. I truly thank you for this. It’s simply beautiful.
    • NAT SAYS:15/05/2014 at 4:02 pmHi Dayna, Thank you so much for commenting on this post. It sounds like you’ve had a real journey with yourself and your birthmark. I would love to know more about you. If you’d like to be involved please email me at PS. so sorry for my slow reply : (
  • CHARLOTTE SAYS:25/11/2013 at 11:19 pmThis idea is wonderful! I was born with a port wine stain birthmark which goes along the majority of my left arm, my left hand and across my left chest and I absolutely love it! I haven’t had any problems with it socially. People are often curious more than anything. I like to think of it as a natural sleeve tattoo. I love the way Patience refers to hers as a protective barrier.
    • NAT SAYS:15/05/2014 at 4:01 pmHi Charlotte, thank you for your comment…sorry for my slow response! Would love to know more about you and your journey with your birthmark. If you’d like to be involved please email me at
  • RACHEL SAYS:23/12/2013 at 4:12 amLike the majority of people finding this, I have a birthmark too! Mine is a bit different, it’s a port wine stain covering my right shoulder and some of my neck – stops almost right down the middle of me! I’m 18 and when I was 14 we found out that its a bit of a crazy one in that it’s caused by a gene mutation and can’t be removed- not that I ever tried! It makes that arm bigger than the other by 2 inches so through my own reserach I think it’s Kippel-Trenaunay-Weber syndrome just like your model Patience. It just has never been aggrevated so it looks like a medium PWS mark.You don’t know what it means to me that there is someone like me (with KTW syndrome) being photographed as a model looking stunning FOR her birthmark, not despite it. I was once told “you could be a model…if you got that birthmark removed” and I love that you are fighting that mindset that its a flaw. Hell no, it is an asset. I’m learning to love my birthmark, but i still wear sleeves most of the time so I’m only getting there.Thanks so much, I love that birthmarks could be seen as beautiful, not scarring to people.
    Love Rachel
    • NAT SAYS:15/05/2014 at 4:00 pmHi Rachel, thank you for reaching out and sharing your story! Would love to know more about you and your journey with her birthmark. If you’d like to be involved please email me at : )
  • LEIGH SAYS:15/05/2014 at 11:22 amWhat a wonderful project to undertake. My daughter was born with a large port-wine stain that covers most of her left arm and a portion of her back. Of course she is beautiful, and so far, we have had very little problems with her self confidence. I would love to know when your film will be finished so that we can watch it with her and talk about others who also have these types of birthmarks. Thank you.
  • CHELSEA SAYS:03/07/2014 at 12:08 pmI was born with a large port-wine stain that covers my entire left arm and hand, goes up to the top of my neck, and covers a portion of my chest. When I was younger, it didn’t affect me much until suddenly people started staring and asking questions about it. It was especially awful when people saw the birthmark, whispered to their companions that it was a contagious rash, and hurriedly walked away. Terrible for my self-esteem, but this is helping me cope! Thank you so much.
  • ERIN SAYS:11/07/2014 at 4:28 pmHi,I found this page today by pure accident, and I am so glad I did.What an awesome, empowering and truely beautiful image. Thank you for this project from the bottom of my heart.The best thing to come from me finding this image is that after all these years of thinking I was all alone in my experiences in dealing with KTS and having a visible birthmark, I discover I am not alone and that there is a community of lovely lovely people out there (many who have left comments above) who have had similar life experiences to me and who just get it.I always thought my birthmark made me special, and now I know that I am and that you all are too.Today has been a good day.
    I have joined the fb group and look forward to talking to some of you soon.E xx
  • BETH SAYS:23/07/2014 at 9:58 amHello,I just wanted to say how lovely i found this post and reading through the comments are equally comforting.I have a port wine stain on the left hand side of my face, however am not brave enough to walk around without makeup on to completely cover it. I have also been involved in the dermablend infomercial when i was 18 in Sydney in 2004 to demonstrate how to apply make up. I like to think of my birthmark as a shield for bad people…. at the end of the day, if somebody cares about your birthmark and judges you on it, you are generally better off knowing about it then waiting to find out!Thanks again for this lovely project.Beth

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