It’s an unfortunate reality of life that children can be very cruel. While many adults embrace what makes them different, growing up, most people want nothing more than to blend into the crowd, something which is almost impossible for those with major physical differences.
As a child, 24-year-old Lorena Bolanos was unphased by her large birthmark which covered half of her body. It was only when she went to school and began to get bullied that it affected her confidence, with her classmates calling her “chocolate chip cookie” and “Dalmatian”.
Lorena, who is from Mexico, was born with a number of raised birthmarks, the largest of which is known as a giant congenital melanocytic nevus.
Check out the video below to see another inspirational woman with a birthmark:
The bullying Lorena suffered eventually got so bad that she was told to kill herself by one of her classmates.
By the time Lorna started university, she was suffering from depression because of the bullying. Not wanting to get taunted again, she resorted to covering up her birthmarks with long-sleeved t-shirts and scarves despite Mexico’s hot climate.
However, Lorena’s attitude towards her birthmarks recently changed for the better, and now she’s bared almost everything for the Underneath We Are Women project. It is an important part of the body positivity movement which champions diversity.
This change came about when Lorena saw another woman being bullied online because of her appearance.
It was then that the brave 24-year-old decided to open up about the years of torment and self-esteem issues which she had suffered by sharing a picture of her birthmarks on Instagram – a post which subsequently went viral and led to her being chosen for this project.
Speaking about her experience, Lorena said, “When I was a little kid it wasn’t a problem. My mom always said, ‘You’re a healthy child don’t worry about it’.”
“It was when I started school that it got really terrible. I was so uncomfortable.”
“Kids would stare at me and they started calling me ‘Dalmatian’ which was so hurtful and cruel. It made me feel so bad about myself.
“I would come home from school and just cry with my mom. When I was a teenager, I just didn’t have relationships. I wasn’t confident enough.”
While Lorena’s social situation did temporarily improve in middle school, it got the worse than it had ever been at high school.
“In middle school, I was lucky to have a group of really supportive friends but in high school, everything changed,” she revealed.
“I was on my phone one evening when this guy from my school sent me a message. It said, ‘Why don’t you just kill yourself?’
“I had become so used to it that I just ignored it, but when I showed it to my friend she was outraged. She asked him how he could ever dream of saying that to someone.”
Lorena said that the post which changed everything touched a nerve. It was from a beauty blogger who had been called “disgusting” by a troll because she had a mole on her face.
“I thought to myself, she is so beautiful, how can anyone talk to people like this. It inspired me to take a photo of my own body in a bikini and put it on Instagram.”
“For my whole life, I had covered up because I was ashamed but I just decided to tell my story and show the world my marks.
“I never dreamed of the response. I had moms writing to me that their daughters were inspired by me.”
When the Underneath We Are Women curator, Amy Herrmann, saw Lorena’s post she was subsequently flown to Santa Monica to be photographed for the project in March.
The project will ultimately result in a book celebrating different women’s bodies.
Recalling the experience, Lorena said, “I was really terrified but Amy made me feel so comfortable. I didn’t tell many people except my mom, but she encouraged me to do it if it made me happy.”
As a result, Lorena has now learned to love the skin that she is in.
However, she has to keep her skin protected from the sun because she’s at a greater risk of skin cancer.
“With my birthmarks, I need to be very careful about sun protection. I have to make sure I cover up and wear a lot of SPF,” she said.
“But the reason I wanted to be more open about my body is because I want to change the concept of beauty.”
“Before my moles weren’t beautiful to me, but I’ve learned to accept myself and love my body because it’s the only one I’ve got.”
We would like to comment Lorena for her inspirational attitude towards her body. Hopefully, the publicity her story has received will encourage other people to embrace what Mother Nature gave them.