My name is Katie Wallis-Whiteman. I’m 26 and from Manchester, United Kingdom. I have the best family you could ever ask for. My mum Maureen, Dad Graeme and I have two older sisters Jennifer and Heather. They have always been very protective of me although I think the tables have turned now.
I have a Port Wine stain covering my right arm, hand, chest and neck and I am so glad that I have lived my life with one. It has not defined my life but it has made me very strong and un-judgemental.
I started to notice I was different at about the age of 9. Before that I was too busy playing and being care free. Children would sometimes ask questions through curiosity and I was more than happy to answer them as long as we got to play after. I did however get upset if people just stared and made a nasty comment as they walked past. They would say things like “ewwwwwwwwwwww look at that burn” or just “ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww and snigge.r”
I used to want to turn around and say “it’s not a burn actually; it’s my birthmark and spit out my tongue”. Instead I would hide behind my mum’s skirt and think why are they so mean that hurt. If my mum saw anyone stare she would just say something like “there only staring at you because your pretty/they are jealous. Once someone shouted over my garden hedge and laughed and said “ha ha you’ve spilt cherryade on yourself”. I just started to cry and run inside. They ruined my place where I felt safe and no one could hurt me.
I remember looking at my sisters and thinking “Why don’t you look the same as me?” I would go to my room and cry. One time I got a scouring pad and tried my hardest to scratch my birthmark off. I feel that I got angry at my sisters because they didn’t have one and I did. I never meant to, I was just hurting and I didn’t think it was fair.When I reached high school I was very self conscious especially in Physical Education getting changed. I would take of my shirt as quickly as possible and replace it with my PE jumper in one swift movement hiding away and not facing anyone. I am very lucky as I never got bullied at school as I never showed that it bothered me. I tried my hardest not to be an easy target.
When I was about 13 a girl I know was in a terrible barn fire and when she came back to school she pointed me towards camouflage make up and laser. I have her to thank for changing my life. I ran home and told my mum about the possible things I could have done. I felt so excited and my mum booked and appointment with the red crosses immediately.
After my appointment with the Red Cross I was eager to get home and try out my makeup. That weekend we had a family party at my Auntie Joan’s house and I was so excited to show off my new look. I felt so good; I just wanted to walk around with my arm, neck and chest on show. It felt amazing not to go down the street and get stared at. I felt like a new person and I have Hayley, The Red Cross and Keromask to thank for that.
At the age of 18 I started to have laser treatment. My dad was a little upset as he didn’t want me to have it done. He said that my birthmark was his favourite part. My first session was very painful as I didn’t have any numbing cream. It took one hour just to do my neck and chest. It felt like someone was flicking hot elastic bands at me from about 1 cm away. I left the hospital with one giant scab across my chest and felt ill for a few days after. My bruising stayed for two weeks. I was a bit scared the next time I went as it did hurt, but this time I had the numbing cream and it was a lot better. Not painless but better. Now at the age of 26 I feel a lot more comfortable in my body. My results have been fantastic and I am now getting to the stage where I don’t feel as much of a need to go anymore. If they could assure me it would definitely go I would snap at the chance and carry on with the laser treatment, but if they couldn’t I would be happy enough now to stop the treatment
I have set up my Facebook page ‘Birthmarks make beautiful people inside and out’ because I feel that everyone needs to be educated on the way people’s stares, nasty comments and sniggers make people with birthmarks feel. I read somewhere that a child in nursery was made to leave because the other children were offended by their birthmark. This is simply shocking and disgusting. This tells me that there is a problem with our society and not the child. People need to be educated. I thought the only way I know how is to lay myself bare. No one has seen my birthmark for around 13 years so putting pictures of myself up without my Keromask make-up has been very difficult for me. I’m hoping people with come to my page and talk about their experiences good and bad. It has been strangely liberating. I just hope my page helps and reaches the people that might need it.
Birthmarks make beautiful people inside and out
Images Courtesy of: Birthmarks Make Beautiful People Inside and Out
If you have a Face of Keromask story that you’d like to share, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org