A 25-year-old Instagram blogger is inspiring thousands by openly embracing her large birthmarks.
Yulianna Yussef is an Instagram influencer in Warsaw, Poland.
The Ukrainian-Lebanese woman grew up enduring severe bullying over the birthmarks that cover much of her skin. The marks are caused by a rare condition called congenital melanocytic nevus (CMN).
“It wasn’t only comments, parents of other children didn’t let me… play with their kids because they thought that I was contagious,” Yulianna told Mirror Online in a recent interview.
Eventually, Yulianna decided to stay home during the day to avoid the stares and teasing.
She went outside only when it was dark.
As she grew older, though, she became sick and tired of hiding and feeling afraid. So she embarked on a journey to self-acceptance, starting an Instagram page to educate others about her condition.
“I want to be happy, healthy, feel beautiful and confident and sexy in my own skin and I am now,” Yulianna said. “But it’s been a long way to this.”
Yulianna Yussef is a 25-year-old woman who lives in Warsaw, Poland. She was born with a rare condition called congenital melanocytic nevus, which causes brown or black marks to appear on the skin from birth or later in life.
In Yulianna’s case, the spots cover much of her skin, including a large patch across her back and stomach. She says her peers were cruel to her as a child because of the birthmarks.
“In three words – I was bullied,” Yulianna told Mirror Online.
“I was a dalmation, a giraffe, a cow. I was dirty and people thought that if they spoke to me my birthmarks would jump at them.”
Some parents even prevented their kids from playing with Yulianna.
But after years of believing that nobody would ever love her with her birthmarks, Yulianna decided to try a different approach.
“I was so tired of hiding and being afraid of people, of their reactions and actions,” she said.
She decided to embrace her birthmarks and work on her confidence, and soon after, she had an epiphany.
Most people she encountered had no idea what CMN even was, which caused a fearful and ignorant reaction.
“I understood that if they all knew maybe my life and lives of the other kids and adults with CMN would be much easier,” Yulianna said.
So she started an Instagram account to show off her birthmarks, educate people about the condition, and share her life with the public. She now has over 100,000 followers.
“My aim has always been to show you that yes you can live a sort of normal life no matter what the condition, despite all the struggles I have faced and still do face behind the scenes,” Yulianna explained in one post.
Her posts are proof that CMN can in fact be gorgeous, but Yulianna also shares information about the reality of living with the condition.
For example, the birthmarks increase her chances of developing melanoma, which can be really scary.
“Some days I wake up in fear spending hours checking each and every birthmark, looking for any changes in colour, thickness, growing spectrum, because truth is I worry, of course I do,” she wrote.
There are other questions that Yulianna finds herself answering a lot: No, the birthmarks are not treatable. They’re also not contagious or inheritable.
Yulianna also explained in one post that the birthmarks are actually “fluffy” and have hair on them. They can also be incredibly itchy, which is difficult to deal with, particularly for children.
But ultimately, after years of resenting her condition, Yulianna truly loves herself — birthmarks included. Her skin no longer keeps her from living a life full of adventures and wearing whatever she pleases.
Her Instagram platform has been transformative, not only for her but also for her thousands of followers.
“I love my skin, I love my cellulite (yes I have), I love my stretch marks (have them as well ), I love my birthmarks,” she wrote. “And Yes, I feel like a perfect angel with my ‘imperfection,’ And how about you?”
Yulianna told Mirror Online that it took a “long” way to get to this point. But she’s so, so happy that she did.