Ciera Swaringen, who has a rare condition called Giant Congenital Melanocytic Nevus, would make you rethink beauty. She has been called Spotty dog by kids in school, but her parents only made her love her oversized mole-like birthmarks.
Everyone wants to look beautiful and flawless. We all want clear skin, shiny hair, good height, and an attractive figure. But not all are blessed and have it all, and that’s okay! People are perfect in their imperfections and can go far regardless of that.
Look at this 19-year-old Ciera Swaringen of Rockwell, California, born with Giant Congenital Melanocytic Nevus — a rare skin condition that affects most (⅔rd) of her face and body covered with hundreds of oversized, mole-like birthmarks. The largest one stretches from her navel to her lower thighs.
Despite all the cruel abuses she faced in her school, she has maintained a positive attitude. Read on here her inspiring story of being a beautiful and confident girl.
About her unpleasant experience during childhood, she said-
“Teenage boys are usually the first ones to comment when they see me. They say things like ‘You look like you're dirty, take a wash.’ But I'm so proud to be different and, at the end of the day, we all have something about us that's unusual, whether it's on the inside or the outside.”
“Everyone is born to look different, and we should all feel beautiful in our own skin.”
Ciera said that when she was young, children use to call her Spotty dog in school & hurled verbal abuses for many years. Recalling this incident, she said-
“One day I remember being on the school bus and hearing a young boy laugh at me and call me a spotty dog. That really knocked my confidence, I was only young and it made me feel different to the other kids, like something was wrong with me.”
She did feel bogged down by the negative comments earlier, but now she has made peace with it. She said-
“Over time I've learnt to brush off negative comments and remember that most people stare and say cruel things because they're not used to seeing someone with my condition.”
She now believes,
“We all have something about us that's unusual, whether it's on the inside or the outside.”
Ciera says how people of her small native town, Richfield, never reacted on looking at her as they knew about her birthmarks, but somewhere new, it’s different. She said-
“People in my town don't bat an eye when they see me now, as they know me. But if I go somewhere new, it's not so easy. I feel lucky to have grown up in a small town, because most of the people around me know about my birthmarks, so I felt quite normal.”
She remembers her parents’ words that always motivated her. They said that once told her that her birthmarks were "angel kisses" and that beauty lies within and not outside. It has helped her remain positive and confident. She said-
“I remember when I started school my mom told me that my birthmarks were angel kisses - and that really stuck with me. And my dad is the first person to stand up to defend me if anyone says anything horrible to me.”
Calling herself a proud mom, Ciera’s mother said-
“There have been times when people's ignorance has gotten to her, with their comments or stares, but all and all she has stood strong. Ciera is a beautiful young lady with a great personality, and I couldn't be more proud of her - she is one of the strongest people I know.”
Her father, David, is a self-employed construction worker, and her mother, Julie Swaringen, is a shoe shop supervisor. When she was born, they and the hospital staff were shocked to see the dark brown birthmarks all over her body. Then when her birthmarks were analyzed, it was found that it posed no health risk and was taken to her home where she lives with her three elder sisters.
Getting rid of the birthmarks through operation is never an option for her. The doctors say that it’s not possible as these marks are too many and would continue to grow throughout her life. She said-
“My birthmarks are constantly growing and I often get new ones, but I'm hoping that will slow down as I leave my teenage years behind.”
As there’s a high risk of developing skin cancer, she needs to be extra careful when her body is exposed to the sun. So she does not spend too much time in the sun and applies suncream to stay safe.
“Suncream is like my best friend. I have to be extremely careful to make sure I'm protected on hot days. I use high-factor cream and don't spend too much time in the sun. I still wear shorts and T-shirts when it's warm, but I just have to make sure I'm being safe.”
For her high school project, she chose her rare skin condition as the research subject. While researching on Giant Congenital Melanocytic Nevus, she discovered online groups run by Nevus Outreach, which is an association that offers support for people having this skin condition.
“Discovering groups on Facebook has helped me realise that I'm not alone. 'I'm hoping I will be able to attend a Nevus Outreach conference, so I can meet other people with my condition.”
As Ciera says, we all must learn to remain comfortable in our skin no matter where we come from or how we look. Just like her, a model named Sara Geurts has a rare skin condition called EDS and is setting an example for others. Here are some more kids born with rare features.
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