Model bullied for facial birthmark poses proudly after 40 laser treatments to lighten it!
A model who has spent her life trying to get rid of a birthmark on her face is now able to pose proudly.
Celina Leroy was born with the mark which covers her chin, lips and cheek – but after 40 laser treatments she’s been able to pose make up-free for the camera.
The 24-year-old has suffered severe bullying at school, including being told she would never be well liked because of her port wine stain (PWS) – a harmless red or purple mark caused by widened blood vessels underneath the skin
One modelling agent even told her that she should cover her birthmark if she wanted to get jobs.
Over the years Celina from Brooklyn, New York, has spent £10,000 on a total of 40 sessions of laser treatment to lighten the colour of her birthmark and two operations to make her lips symmetrical.
But now, the model has decided to embrace her unique birthmark and has started posing for photoshoots without covering her port wine stain.
Celina, a full-time model and actress, said: “I put all this money and effort into treatments to make it go away but since I’ve stopped wearing make-up everyone’s been really supportive.
“I’ve spent around $15,000 (around £10,000) on surgery and treatment so I could make it look like I didn’t have a birthmark, but now I don’t want to hide it and am proud of it.
“I was only a baby when I had my first laser surgery and since then I had more than 40 treatments to reduce the appearance of my birthmark.
“I’ve never wanted to hide my port wine stain, but I felt like I had to, especially while working as an actress because I’ve only ever seen people with birthmarks portraying villains.
“Hiding my birthmark while I was modelling used to be really frustrating as it felt fake and like it wasn’t me, now I can be the real Celina.
“I’ve had some cruel comments over the years, when I was in school a girl told me I was pretty but because I had a birthmark I would never be popular.
“When I was a lot younger I used to get really upset and question why I had to have a port wine stain, which made me very self-conscious and gave me a low self-esteem in front of people.
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“Even now a lot of little kids ask me what I have on my face, but a lot of other people used to just stare – if people asked me I’d be only too happy to tell them it’s a birthmark
“Once I gave my photos to one modelling agent who told me I should cover my birthmark if I wanted to get jobs, but I don’t personally think I have anything to hide.
“But I feel great now, my birthmark is who I am and I think it makes me stand out from other people, I’m no longer ashamed.
“Now when I see myself on screen or in pictures with my birthmark showing it feels liberating and I’m hoping it will help to change the public’s perceptions and how imperfection in many ways is perfection.
“I’m hoping through modelling with my birthmark out I can show others that you can be beautiful and be yourself without needing to hide.”
Celina started having laser treatment when she was only one-year-old, her mum Lorraine and father Billy Leroy, an American reality TV personality, hoped it would lessen the colour of the mark.
Later at the ages of 17 and 24, she had surgery to her lips to make them even in appearance after her port wine stain had distorted parts of her mouth.
Celina said: “When I was younger the treatment was really intense, I remember screaming while it happened.
“As I got older I felt I had to continue hiding it because of the beauty standards women have to live up to, especially because when I was growing up there weren’t many role models with birthmarks.
“Now I want to be that role-model and show others they have nothing to hide by being more open about my birthmark and celebrating having one.”
Since feeling more confident about her port wine stain, Celina has noticed she’s getting a lot more attention from men – including some of the people who used to mock her in school .
Celina said: “When I’ve been back to my hometown and was covering my port wine stain in makeup people were really nice about it and said they missed seeing it because it was part of who I was.
“Even some of the guys were horrible to me were trying to hit on me.
“I decided I didn’t need to cover it any more after going to a party and a load of guys were chatting me up – which was weird because I used to feel ugly without make-up.
“But now I know I’m beautiful because of my birthmark.”
Birthmark Support UK report that one in 330 babies are born with a port wine stain, which is also known as a capillary malformation.
Lisa Buckingham, spokesperson for Birthmark Support UK, said: A capillary malformation is a red or purple mark on the skin, which is present from birth.
“They are caused by widened blood vessels where blood flows slowly through the area all the time.
“They can be treated with laser to lighten the colour, which is most successful in childhood.”
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