16-year-old bullied for birthmarks becomes a model

Sixteen-year-old Alba Parejo was bullied for having more than 500 birthmarks — now she’s a model and can be seen in magazines, buses and billboards across the country. (Photos: Instagram/albaparejo)

“The worst thing I heard was someone telling me ‘don’t show your back to anyone, because no one wants a misshapen girlfriend.'”

Alba Parejo is a 16-year-old unearthly beauty from Barcelona, Spain. She recently entered — and won — a modelling competition to be the face of a body positivity campaign, now she can be seen in magazines, and across billboards and buses in her country. However, the teen admittedly didn’t always feel confident about her looks. Parejo was born with congenital melanocytic nevus, a condition that causes brown birthmarks and dark patches of skin to form on the skin.

“I have nevus on my hip, bottom, my thighs and more than 500 moles over my body,” the model said in an interview with Caters News agency.

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When she was five-years-old, Parejo had already endured 30 operations to remove some of the birthmarks due to the pain they caused. According to Nevus Outreach, some aspects of the affected skin can be uncomfortable — nevus skin can itch and is more fragile than other skin not affected by nevus, making it more prone to tearing.

After her operations, Parejo had to deal with surgery scars in addition to the prominent birthmarks. Growing up, she was mercilessly laughed at and called everything from a Dalmatian to an alien. People even asked her if she painted her skin.

Translation: ‘The one who supports me, the one who teaches me day by day, my protector, my guardian angel, my mother’

“I realized people were staring at me because of my skin, which made me feel bad, strangers looked at me as if I was a monster,” she said in the interview. “The worst thing I heard was someone telling me ‘don’t show your back to anyone, because no one wants a misshapen girlfriend.’”

During her childhood, she said she was ashamed to let people see her skin. She yearned to be “normal” and spent days crying and wishing she were someone else.

She endured years of therapy and received support from her family and friends before coming to the point where she learned to love herself and embrace her skin.

Also see: Model sparks ‘embrace acne’ movement after walking the runway with pimples

“As time went on, I realized that my moles, scars and my nevus is a big part of me both physically and psychologically,” she said.

Last year the teen had had enough of being a victim. She posted photos of her birthmarks online and subsequently received hundreds of retweets, over 1,500 likes and supportive comments from people across the globe, who compared her to everything from a beautiful galaxy to a work of art.

“We are all born different and because certain people are born different from the rest, does not mean that we are less,” she stated on Instagram.

The positive support encouraged the teen to enter, and win, a modelling competition; she is now the face of the Anecblau shopping centre, has appeared as the cover model for Anecblau magazine and has since garnered work with other photographers.

She feels more body positive and is trying to make her disease more well known in order to help other people.

“What is the use of being afraid? What’s the use of looking down every time a group of teenagers walk by? What is the use of not doing things for fear of what the rest think? It is of no use, therefore, I love myself as I am and I adore my skin,” she said.

Large congenital nevi occur in one in every 20,000 births. The nevi form in the womb within the firm trimester of pregnancy and are caused by a defect during the embryologic development.

It’s not hereditary and there’s currently no confirmed method of prevention. It can appear in both males and females and in people of all races.

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