The concept of beauty varies from place to place and from person to person. But there are a few constants which we go by. But again, these criteria have been imposed on us by society and for the present generation at least, by the cosmetic giants and the media. Unfortunately, they decide what constitutes ideal beauty.
Mariana Mendes, a 24-year old Brazilian, chose not to remove her rare birthmark that covers her face extensively. She even modelled for a photo shoot that sent a strong message about what constitutes real beauty.
The birthmark is a result of the concentration of pigment on certain parts of her face. It covers her right eye, a part of the nose, and her right cheek. Known as congenital melanocytic, it affects perhaps one in 20,000 babies. It can be removed through cosmetic surgery but the stylist assistant chose to be different. She is content with being herself and is extremely proud of being different.
Mariana is blithely unconcerned about comments on her looks and instead feels that she absolutely has no regrets. She treats the birthmark as a sign of beauty and her attitude and confidence about herself have made others notice her. Initially, she was stared at and people also commented on the mark. This regressive mindset refuses to allow us to accept each other for what we really are. But Mariana has displayed enormous courage for a girl her age. She decided that it was a part of her body and she was going to retain it.
Mendes feels that she owes no explanation to anybody as it is her body and she is the one who decides. She has refused to conform to the rules and parameters set by society. The birthmark is as integral a part of her body as any other. She does not consider it a deformity.
Mariana is proud of her appearance and this confidence has even got her modelling assignments. People like her, who refuse to abide by the rules of conventional beauty, inspire others.
It encourages others to come out and share their stories. Instead of wallowing in pity or considering it as a burden even you can turn it to your advantage. Being different from the pack is not being ugly. Set your own beauty standards. You have a right to exist as you are. The stereotype of beauty has to be broken. It is wrong to think that the physical body confines you. The first step towards a better life is to learn to love oneself and turn every perceived crisis into an advantage. We all should learn from Mariana!