Ivanka Danisova was part of a set of triplets born in Slovakia. Doctors said she would die young because of a congenital birth defect called Goldenhar syndrome.
“When I was diagnosed, I was given no hope. I wasn’t even supposed to survive,” Ivanka told Caters News. “When I found that out, I was stunned at first, and those cruel and harsh words lingered on me long after I had left the doctor’s office. I didn’t understand why me.”
The rare condition caused the right side of her face to under-develop. She could not hear from her right ear and her immune system was weakened. Moreover, her unique appearance caused her to be bullied.
“My childhood was not a walk in the park, as there were moments when I was shown in a cruel way that I am ‘different,'” she said.
However, due to the kindness of her sisters, Ivanka was able to persevere through the difficult situation.
“I know that I had the greatest luck in my life by being born among triplets,” she said. “I am grateful to my sisters for bringing up that brave and fearless Ivanka who is not afraid of anyone and anything.”
Today Ivanka is known for taking selfies that conceal her defect, but it’s not because she is ashamed. Ivanka takes the photos for her campaign Rainbow for Ivanka, which spreads awareness of Goldenhar syndrome. She hopes that others will take selfies covering half their face and that those like her will soon feel free to unapologetically show their true selves.
“Rainbow for Ivanka encourages people to take a selfie with one half of their face covered in solidarity,” Ivanka said. “I refuse to accept that this condition should still be a ‘taboo’ in Slovakia, and that these children are viewed as unacceptable for this society.”
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