I hope you’ve been enjoying my new blog series, How Do I Look? For the past 6 years I have used this blog to talk about my rosacea but I wanted to open the conversation about skin positivity and visible differences so I can cover (and learn about) lots of different topics. Every week I am going to be talking to an inspirational and interesting person in order to share their story and experiences to educate, help, and support others.
Today’s interview is with Amy, who I first discovered when we appeared on Katie Piper’s Face to Face (although sadly we didn’t get to meet in person). She does so much to raise awareness of Port Wine Stain Birthmarks and her make up skills are unparalleled! I hope you enjoy this interview – if you do I would appreciate if you shared it with a friend or on social media. Anything you can do to help spread the skin positivity word is such a big help – after all we can’t change the way the world sees visible differences without being visible!
Tell me a little bit about your skin…
“I was born with a port wine stain birthmark covering the left side of my face, a port wine stain is a malformation of blood vessels under the skin. When I was growing up I knew I was different to other children but I liked that, my parents would always tell me I was born special and I liked that I had something that made me different, Although sometimes I would get some mean comments, I would never let it stop me doing the things I wanted to do.”
What are the common misconceptions, comments, or questions about port wine stains? What do you wish people knew?
“The most common thing is people thinking I’ve been hurt or someone has hurt me as it does look like a bruise. I wish people knew what it was, it’s not sore or contagious it’s just that the blood vessels haven’t formed properly under the skin, which gives it the reddish purple colour. The area can be slightly more sensitive than the rest of my face, so I do need to use a high factor sun cream on my face when on holiday but there’s nothing else different that I need to do.”
How does your skin make you feel on a day to day basis?
“I have good days and bad days. Some days I feel great and proud and some days I can feel slightly insecure about it.”
You’ve spoken very honestly in past about dating when you have a visible difference. Can you tell me a little about that?
“I have found this very tricky! You just want someone to accept you for you. If I’m chatting with someone online I always tell them to look at my Instagram first because I’m very open and honest about my appearance. I would never want to hide away from it because it’s part of who I am. I believe the right guy will come along one day and accept me for me… hopefully! ”
How do you deal with bad days?
“I remember everything I’ve achieved and overcome and that it’s just one bad day. I have to remain strong and I also try to remember that I have a small following of people who look up to me and I want to be a good role model for them.”
How do you feel about make up?
“I love make up! I wear it nearly everyday – some days I do wear just a little or none at all, it depends what I’m doing, but mainly I wear make up everyday. There’s no right or wrong in wearing make up, you have to do what makes you feel good and confident. I had access to special camouflage make up (Veil Cover Cream) from the age of around 7, which was prescribed by my GP. So if I wanted to wear make up then it was always an option for me. The products I would recommend are a good primer, a full coverage foundation (I like Veil Cover Cream, Youngblood Mineral Foundation, and Huda Beauty Faux Filter Foundation) and a setting powder to finish everything off.”
If you have consulted the medical community with regards to your port wine stain, how were those experiences?
“Yes. I had to go for laser treatment a lot a child and I found the whole experience extremely traumatic. I used to have to get put to sleep every time and I would kick and scream. I had laser treatment around 3 times a year for about 10 years to try lighten the birthmark, but they were seeing no improvements so we decided to stop. Now I hate the smell of hospitals, but I know I will need to have laser treatment again in the future to prevent any complications or changes in my birthmark.”
In the past few years there have been more conversations around the link between skin and mental health, what are your thoughts?
“I think with social media we all face a lot of pressure to look a certain way. I think it’s so important that we see many different people and remember that we are all born unique to one another and it is okay to be who we are. It’s also important to raise awareness and keep educating people on the different facial and bodily conditions there are.
I do feel pressured to look good before posting a picture to Instagram. But I like to post before and after pictures so that my followers can see that everyone has imperfections. I feel opening up will always help people with their mental health.
When I was growing up there was no such thing as social media, so I felt like the only girl in the world who looked like me. So being able to have a positive impact on young people like myself means so much to me. I have met many people just like me and it’s nice to feel you’re not alone.”
Have any positives come out of living with your port wine stain?
“Yes! It has opened so many doors for me, I’m a charity ambassador for the Birthmark Support Group (I help with make up advice and am a role model for the younger members to help them be confident in their own skin), I have modelled for Veil Cover Cream and have been in various magazines, as well as on the radio, news and TV programmes including Katie Piper’s Face to Face on Channel 4.”
Any top tips that you would like to share with others with a port wine stain?
“Never be ashamed of who you are, there are so many people the same as you so never feel alone. Have a good skincare routine and only wear make up if you want to! Do what makes you feel good. Make up is just there to enhance the beauty that already exists.”
Read the other posts in my How Do I Look? series here:
- MICHELLE talking about her scars;
- SOFIA talking about her acne;
- NATALIE talking about vitiligo;
- SUSIE on her Telogen Effluvium (hair loss);
- AMARA on eczema;
- GRACE on her scars;
- JUDY on her sensitive skin;
- SHANKAR on his Vitiligo;
- P. on their Acne Conglobata;
- and SOPHIE on her Trichotillomania.
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