Sarah Taylor is a 21-year-old college student with a port-wine stain birthmark that covers part of her face. But instead of covering it up, she is unapologetically herself, and inspiring others with birthmarks to accept and love theirs too.
Taylor admits, however, that her journey to self-love has not been a fast road.
“When I was really little, I didn’t even realize that I looked different from other kids around me,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Growing older, it became more difficult, especially during middle school.”
Taylor was bullied as a teen for what now she considers one of her best features.
“There was a lot beyond the generally uncreative yet undeniably potent insults of my preteen peers. I had retail employees asking me if I had been burned, moms stopping me in the mall to ask if my parents hit me, and infinite strangers on the street double-taking when I walked by.”
These stares sometimes made Taylor doubt if she was beautiful. “I never tried to cover my birthmark, but I was always silently resigned to the fact that I would never be ‘pretty,’ or at least that I would always be prettier if I didn’t have it,” she says.
It was when she began High School her mental framework towards her birthmark began to shift. Taylor began to work on herself, and discovered her passions for acting and making people laugh.
“Soon my birthmark became an afterthought when I considered traits that made me ‘me.’ Loving my birthmark really just went along with me learning to love myself—physically, mentally, and emotionally. I realized at some point that no one would ever look like me—and that was cool.”
She discovered that being confident in who she is, was the secret for others to see her beauty too.
“When you accept your differences and wear them like badges of honor, other people realize they can’t touch you, they respect you. Confidence is both a shield and a magnet.”
Scrolling through her photos, you see comments from hundreds of people sharing how Taylor has helped them see beauty in their birthmarks.
One commenter wrote: “Thank you for inspiring me! I have a port wine stain on my temple that I’ve on and off felt self-conscious about for my entire life and I love that you don’t try to completely cover your birthmark. It reminds me that I don’t need to explain it or myself to anyone and that it’s just another part of me and that maybe it’s even beautiful.”
“I️ don’t even know you but I have a birthmark on my face too and it’s so cool to see that you don’t care about yours and [you can] be yourself,” added another commenter.
The New York native is constantly sharing photos of herself with her nearly 9,000 Instagram followers, and by not trying to mask her birthmark with makeup, Taylor is embracing herself and redefining the meaning of true beauty.
“That birthmark looks so good, it compliments your face perfectly it’s super well placed and makes you one of a kind, God bless your beautiful face,” wrote a commenter. “I’m so happy to see somebody else with a port wine stain,” another person wrote.
Taylor is not only inspiring young women to love themselves but mature women as well. An older commenter wrote on one of her selfies: “You are both beautiful and brave and I’m happy you are of the generation getting out there and not hiding [or] a giving a hoot! I am in my 50s same birthmark bigger richer in color and wouldn’t dream of this at your age or even now.”
However, it is not always love she receives. The green-eyed beauty replied with kindness to an unkind comment from someone who disliked her birthmark — despite having one too.
“I’m so so sorry you got bullied about your birthmark, that sucks and no one should have to go through that,” she wrote to the woman criticizing her. She continued, “I love my birthmark and I always have and I never let anyone tell me otherwise.”
“There will always people who love my birthmark, and there will always be people who hate it. I could never, ever be happy if the way I looked at myself depended on how others looked at me,” she says.
Taylor’s advice to others struggling with self-love is simple: “Focus on parts of yourself that you really genuinely like. Work on them and expand them, not just the physical traits,” she adds. “The more you let yourself love you, the more other insecurities melt away.
If anyone puts you down, you don’t need them in your life anyway. My birthmark has told me far more about other people than it’s told them about me.”
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