Meet 19-year-old Ciera Swaringen.
Swaringen was born with giant mole-like marks that covered two-thirds of her body. Doctors diagnosed her with congenital melanocytic nevus, a rare skin condition affecting one in every 500,000 births.
Swaringen’s body is covered in moles and birthmarks with the largest mark stretching from her lower thighs to her belly button.
The birthmarks pose no health risks, but doctors said it would be dangerous to remove them. While her marks are harmless, many people around Swaringen have been less so. She has dealt with cruel bullies from a young age.
“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,” she recalls.
Boys are often the first to comment, according to the teen, saying things like, “You look like you’re dirty, take a wash.”
But Swaringen remains defiant. “I’m so proud to be different, and at the end of the day, we all have something about us that’s unusual, whether it’s on the inside or the outside.”
“Over time I’ve learnt to brush off negative comments and remember that most people stare and say cruel things because they’re not used to seeing someone with my condition.”