Just about every adult can remember what it was like to be the target of childhood bullies. But one model and Instagram influencer endured so much verbal abuse while growing up, she actually became a recluse.
Now, Yulianna Yussef is no longer in hiding. Instead, she’s clapping back at those who relentlessly made fun of her because of the birthmarks that stretch from her back, down her middle, and along parts of her arms and legs. And take that, haters: Her anti-bullying, body-positive message is earning her major praise on Instagram.
“In three words—I was bullied,” Yussef said in a new interview with the UK publication Mirror Online. “I was a Dalmatian, a giraffe, a cow. I was dirty and people thought that if they spoke to me my birthmarks would jump at them.”
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Yussef’s birthmarks come from a rare condition called congenital melanocytic nevus (CMN), which causes light brown to black marks on the skin, according to the National Organization for Rare Disorders. They appear at birth and can become thick and hairy as a child develops.
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On my social media feed I try to post fancy photos that showcase how confident I am about my birthmarks, self acceptance and how I've learned to live with my giant Nevus. But I want to be honest with you and tell you a little bit more about how I actually physically feel and give you some more information about birthmarks. Starting with the hairs, this is a very big and annoying topic for anyone who has many birthmarks and specially a giant one😅.Sooo my back is actually fluffy 🤦🏽♀🐯 I can't do anything about that, and even more annoyingly, the hairs on the birthmarks all over my body are thicker and more dense than around the normal skin. We cant wax or shave them and all I have heard from doctor is that I should cut them.. wait a second..CUT them?! Now you can imagine me 🌵 ( for those who are interested I do wax around the birthmark only and that is my own personal risk and I wouldn’t ask anyone to follow my example. Also there were lots of different situations when I really hated this "fluffy stuff". For example you might try to prepare your boyfriend that you have something unusual on your back .. but how do you explain that you are like 🐿 on touch?! 🤦🏽♀ let alone the many awkward questions you get whilst at school or on the beach..Next- The itching is so f***ing bad that it just drives you crazy! Sometimes I literally want to scratch my skin off🙇🏽♀ waking up at night because I can't control myself, scratching it which causes the birthmark to swells and forces me to get up and put cold compress on it. Sometimes I really feel like a 🐒. Just imagine some business meeting, of course I'm nervous, if I'm nervous it's itching a hundreds time more and my strength of will not to stretch myself 😩🔨 uuff..I am an adult I now can control myself but children no, some scratch themselves till they draw blood at night. There is no solution besides growing up and learning how to control yourself. It's a part of our "difference" and we should learn to live with this. The last one for today is Melanoma. Skin cancer. Anyone could develop skin cancer because of one birthmark👇🏽#gowiththeflaw
Some people with the disorder have one or two marks, while others, such as Yussef, can have several that cover large parts of the body. CMN isn’t just a cosmetic issue. People who have it are at a greater risk of developing melanoma or neurological diseases. A common side effect is extremely itchy skin.
As the bullying over her birthmarks got worse, Yussef became a recluse in her home city of Warsaw and only left her home at night. She wrote on Instagram: “I would just ask ‘why me?'” She added that she didn’t think anyone would ever “love a girl with a black and hairy back.”
Finally, Yussef had enough and decided to make a change. “I was so tired of hiding and being afraid of people, of their reactions and actions. I was hating myself for the weakness and that I felt so much pity towards myself. I then understood that nobody would help me just myself, to bring me up with my confidence.”
Yussef realized that most people didn’t know anything about her condition—and that made them fearful of her. She thought that if she educated people about CMN, then she could help others with it.
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Victoria’s Secret showing us very beautiful women, almost perfect ones, as they say “angels”. Anyway, women around the world are buying this lingerie and they are unique. All of them have different bodies, curves, shapes, sizes, skin types… And I really think that we’re all beautiful, with our cellulite, with our stretch marks , with all the complexes that you girls think you have, but nobody else actually notice them. I love my body and I do work hard to make my body look like this. I love my skin, I love my cellulite (yes I have), I love my stretch marks ( have them as well ), I love my birthmarks. And Yes, I feel like a perfect angel with my “imperfection”. And how about you? #perfectionofmyskin #inmyskiniwin #bareyourbirthmark #beautiful #girl #bodygoas #underwear #victoriassecret #breakfast #kitchen #happy #me #motivation #inspiration #unique #different #tbt
With this in mind, she took to Instagram and began showing photos of herself, discussing her past as a bullying target and promoting body positivity. Now, her Instagram account is just shy of 100,000 followers. Thanks to the positive feedback she has received from them, Yussef now feels beautiful and confident.
In one Instagram post, she wrote this: “I love my skin, I love my cellulite (yes I have), I love my stretch marks (have them as well ), I love my birthmarks. And Yes, I feel like a perfect angel with my “imperfection, “And how about you?”
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