During Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in Johannesburg South Africa last March, budding fashion model Kgothi Iman Dithebe made history.
A local newspaper in South Africa acknowledged her on their front page with a headline that read, "Scarred Model On The Runway." That scar is actually a birthmark spread across one side of her face. With it on full display, she became the first model to walk the runway during #MBFWJ with a facial mark.
When it comes to embracing unique birthmarks, she's not alone. We found eight women on Instagram who celebrate their own despite society's traditional beauty standards.
My birthmark is called a hairy nevus. Its dark pigmented and extends from my right cheek to my nose. I refer to it as my beauty-mark! I'm from a very small town so growing up was actually a breeze for me. Individuals were used to seeing me with my beauty-mark. In the past, there were times when I was discouraged, due to stares and comments. The moment I completely became comfortable in my skin, is when I realized not to value someone else opinion more than my own. I've heard things such as " You are pretty with it," "Unbelievable its a birthmark," "It's very exotic," "Is it a tattoo?" Others have also inquired about my life and if it ever bothered me. I do not desire to look or be anyone but FERRIN! I've learned what makes you different, makes you EXTRAORDINARY! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and within my view, I am the rarest jewel around! - Ferrin Francis
I love my birthmark. It makes me unique and sets me apart from everyone. I love the shape of it, I love where it's located, I love the way it compliments my face, and I would never change it.
It was once a source of ridicule and humiliation, when I was younger and I despised it but then my mother told me once "that it is a kiss from the Angels and God above" and I embraced it from there.
I get a lot of reactions some good, some bad. Usually it is complimented and embraced. Some people don't even notice it sometimes. No matter what they say I will always love it. - Sahmone Walker
My name is Evelyn Suarez and I am Brazilian, from Rio de Janeiro. I come from a Christian family and since I was a little girl my mom told me that we are all beautiful in our own way because we are made by God. But it was very hard for me to see beauty in myself being different from others. I was born with a blue sign that covers half of my face and my left eye, and I suffered a lot with it in my childhood, mostly in school. I cried, wondering why I had to be born this way and isolated myself from others. I suffered a lot of prejudice because of my birthmark. It was like an extra weight, plus all the bad things that black girls typically deal with.
Over time I found out that what really matters is how I see myself and now I recognize that I am unique and being different is good. I like my birthmark and I feel comfortable with myself, I don't need to hide myself for fear of what people think of my appearance because God loves me the way I am. People still say things about me but now, when I look in the mirror, I don't see the imperfection they are pointing out, but a perfect singularity, and I love it! - Evelyn Suarez
When I was younger I wasn't fond of my birthmark because it was obvious that I was different as a child! I used to get made fun of.
In my teen years I didn't pay it much attention. But now as a 26 year old woman I feel like it's the art and special tattoo God gave me! Just for me, my own unique design and bespoke creation that nobody else has. I'm in love with it and am confident to show it! - Patrice
Seven has always been my perfect number. I was born on the 7th of November at 7pm and I also have seven birthmarks including one under my left eye. However my two favorite are the ones on my chest. As a child I never really got teased for it. I've never paid attention for it. I believe I was here in my past life and I used to say those are marks from my past, the bruises which serves as my proof. Now that I'm older it reminds me of a map and its a reminder that I will never be lost in the world because I have a map to guide me. It reminds me of a place and a significant clue from my past life. I love, embrace, and honor every part of me and my birthmarks all seem to have a story behind them-all seven of them. - Ari
Growing up, I've received many hilarious comments and questions about my forehead from students such as, "Did you get shot?" or "Did you mother drop you?" When I was younger, I would frequently look in the mirror and cover my birthmark with my finger and try to imagine how my face would look without it. I'd think, "Wow, I look like a stranger!" It would scare me a little. I was fortunate enough to have very encouraging parents who nurtured my unique appearance and personality, so by the time I started school, I was bulletproof! - Mina Dyana
My birthmark looks a bit like a brown splash on the sclera (the white part) of my left eye. It stretches all the way to the back. I love my birthmark because it is a part of me and unique to me. I've personally never seen an eye birthmark as prominent as mine and I just rock with it.
Growing up I was so embarrassed about it. I knew it was something 'different' and I did not like that at the time. I would try to hide it as best I could, especially when meeting new people. I always tilted my head and looked to the left to hide my birthmark in photos. I did it so much it is still a habit to this day, just not for the same reasons. Most people think its' cool. Eye doctors always freak out and every once in awhile I get random strangers 5 inches away from my face asking, "what is that in your eye?!" -Shante Carlton
I've had my birthmark since I was 2 weeks old. It started out dark but then lightened right away. It has stayed the same shape and size since then. We found out that it is probably vitiligo. Growing up I was teased and bullied because of it and called all sorts of names. My mother really built up my confidence and helped me see the beauty in my uniqueness. Now I'm so used to it being there that I forget about it and rarely notice it in the mirror. The only time I really think about it is when someone asks about it or stares too hard. - Niya
Visit BeyondClassicallyBeautiful.com to read more content that celebrates the diverse beauty of black women.