A Brave Girl With A Long Road
“It’s what’s inside that counts” is one of those sayings you hear too often, but it’s true, especially for 19-year-old Ciera Swaringen. Ciera was born with a condition most people have never seen and probably couldn’t pronounce. It’s known in the medical community as Giant Congenital Melanocytic Nevus, which is a rare skin condition that causes one’s skin to become covered in moles and birthmarks. The condition exists in various degrees of severity, and Ciera’s marks are on the more difficult end of the spectrum.
Kids Are Mean…
All through school, Ciera got a lot of negative attention for her appearance and kids can be cruel which only made life more difficult for her and her developing sense of self.
“One day I remember being on the school bus and hearing a young boy laugh at me and call me a spotty dog. That really knocked my confidence. I was only young and it made me feel different to the other kids, like something was wrong with me,” Ciera reflects upon her school days.
“They’re Angel Kisses”
Through all of the “sticks and stones”, Ciera persevered with a firm belief in herself and parents who stayed positive through the stares and whispers.They used to wipe away her tears and say her birthmarks are “angel kisses” to soften the blow of being so different. Ciera worked through those hard days with her supportive parents and became a strong, young woman.
Not Dangerous, Not Going Anywhere
Ciera’s birthmarks are not dangerous but they are sensitive. She must take caution and avoid the sun as they could become malignant after regular exposure. A frequently asked question is if the growths and marks could be removed. Doctors say they can never offer that option because there are already too many of them. As Ciera grows, more marks and moles will continue to cover her body. The problem, though not dangerous, is permanent.
Self-Acceptance And Shining A Light
Ciera has grown into a strong, independent and self-assured woman who has accepted that people will always stare. “Everyone is born to look different, and we should all feel beautiful in our own skin.”
Finding Friends Who Understand
After searching the internet, Ciera found an online community of people who have the same condition and understand her struggle. She now attends conferences and speaks to young people about self-acceptance and body image.
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