Amba talks about gaining confidence and helping others to accept their visible difference

Amba’s story: ‘I learned to love and accept my skin’

Amba has two birthmarks which cover her whole body from head to toe.Picture of Amba who has two birthmarks which cover her whole body

Everyone was shocked but then came up to me and said how beautiful I was with and without makeup on. That was the first day that I learned to love and accept my skin.

I’m Amba and I have a birthmark. My birthmark is a little bit rarer than others as mine covers my whole body from head to toe. It is split into two different types of birthmark. The first is a Port Wine Stain, associated with Sturge-Weber syndrome, which appears on my face. It’s normally only on one side of the face but mine, unlike many others, is a bit more severe and covers my whole face and neck.

The second type of birthmark is from my shoulders down which is known as Cutis Marmorta (CMT). ‘Normally’, it’s just down one side of an arm, leg etc., but again, in my case, it covers my arms, legs and body. When I was born I was completely red all over, but now that my body has grown and my birthmark has stretched, it is more of a marbled pattern.

Since being eight months old, I have had laser treatment on my face. I had 10 treatments in total before I stopped at the age of six because I was getting bullied at school. By the age of eight, I had to move schools because of the bullying. I didn’t understand why I was so different to everyone else around me. Once I got to secondary school, I started to understand my condition a little bit more and understand why I was different. By the age of 11, I started using camouflage makeup to hide what I thought was ‘my imperfection’ on my face and try to be ‘normal looking’.

I then moved to a hospital school when I was 14 due to being so poorly I could no longer go to a mainstream school to do my GCSEs. I then re-started laser treatment (on my face) when I was 15 as I was starting to get anxiety about my skin and looks. The teachers at the hospital school were so supportive and understood, so I was allowed to be in a separate room to all the other students until my skin healed and I was allowed to wear makeup again.

During the GCSE exam period, I was taken ill again and had to do my exams from a hospital bed. But I managed to come out with a pass grade in all subjects! When deciding what I wanted to do after school, I chose to do a Beauty Therapy course at college. No one at college knew me and my birthmark as I fake tanned my arms and wore makeup to conceal it.

But one day we had a training session where we were all supposed to have facials. My tutor got me up in front of everyone and explained to the rest of the group that I had a birthmark. I spoke to the group about my birthmark on my face and body, and I took my makeup off. Everyone was shocked but then came up to me and said how beautiful I was with and without makeup on. That was the first day that I learned to love and accept my skin.

Two images of Amba, one with and one without makeup

Since taking my makeup off on that day, over a year ago, I have felt so much more confident going out in public without makeup on. I even started going to college without makeup and everyone at college still treats me the same. They don’t care I have a few marks on my skin, they just see me as Amba.

Since then I have created an Instagram page to help others with facial differences and give my tips and advice to young teens who want to cover their beautiful differences and how to deal with bullying. I’ve now been doing makeup looks using ‘normal’ drugstore makeup for people who don’t want to wear camouflage but still achieve the same coverage. I want to create awareness for anyone who has a visible difference just like mine.

If you’re a child or young person with a visible difference, you might want to take a look at our self-help guides with information on building confidence, copying with comments and more.