By Liana Jacob
THIS BIRTHMARKED mum with an enlarged lower lip has experienced shocking reactions from the public but since appearing on television she has jettisoned the idea of both treatment and makeup claiming she is now comfortable in her own skin.
Lettings negotiator and mother-of-three, Lisa Butler (36), from Wales, UK, was born with a port-wine stain birthmark, which is a discolouration of the human skin caused by a capillary malformation of the skin.
Growing up, she has never felt different to anyone in her family or among her friends, until she was the ages of 17 to 18, when she started working in a restaurant surrounded by strangers which meant leaving her bubble of friends behind.
She would then be faced with various questions from strangers including ‘what have you done to your face?’ ‘What’s wrong with your face?’ or ‘have you been in a fight?’
This attention made her feel more insecure about her look and she would cover up her birthmark with makeup everywhere she went.
It wasn’t until she discovered camouflage makeup and was asked to be on a TV programme to try it out, that she suddenly felt aware of the strangers around her and realised she was happy with the way she is.
“When people make comments like these my stomach drops, and I just want the floor to open up,” Lisa said.
“Even when I’m asked hurtful questions like this I remain polite and simply explain it’s a port wine stain birthmark and I was born with it.
“Sometimes it’s not a person’s words that hurt, but their actions. When I see someone staring at me and sometimes whispering or pointing, I turn a blind eye and pretend not to notice.
“I always knew I had a port-wine stain birthmark, but I never thought about it or even gave any thought to the fact I looked different to most people until I was an around seventeen or eighteen.
“Around this time, I was working part time in a restaurant and it was the start of me leaving the bubble of friends I had grown up with.
“It was around this time that I started encountering many more strangers, in work, in the supermarket etc.
“It seemed that this was the time that people would start asking me ‘what have you done to your face?’ ‘What’s wrong with your face?’ ‘Have you been in a fight?
“As an adult I came to the stage that I didn’t leave the house without makeup on. It didn’t matter if I was going to work, shopping or visiting family, I would not leave the house without at least a small amount of makeup.
“I took part in a Channel 4 programme last year. Before I started filming I said I was taking part because I wanted to know how to apply camouflage makeup, so that I had the option to cover my birthmark if I wanted to.
“On the day of filming, in the middle of a busy beauty hall I began the makeover. A short while later my makeup was beautifully done, and you couldn’t see my birthmark.
“It was exactly what I’d asked for but how I felt took me by surprise. All of a sudden, I felt more conscious of the strangers around me than when I didn’t have makeup on.
“This is the moment I knew that I was happy with how I am, I didn’t really want to cover up my birthmark with makeup.”
Lisa has become so comfortable in her own skin, that she says right now she wouldn’t consider getting further treatment to remove the birthmark or operations to reduce the size of her lip, but she wouldn’t rule it out for the future.
She says she credits her family and husband, Karl, of 15-years for her newfound confidence, as they never made her feel like she was different to anyone else.
“I had laser treatment up until I was eleven years old. At eleven I told my parents I didn’t want to do it anymore. It wasn’t having any visible results and the procedure was painful,” she said.
“I had another short course of laser treatment when I was in my twenties. I’ve also had two operations on my lower lip to try and reduce the size. I wouldn’t rule out treatment in the future, but right now I am happy how I am.
“I think being a wife and mum, having a job I love, having amazing friends and family all contribute to me feeling comfortable in my skin. To an extent I think it was a confidence that came with age.
“My family and friends have always embraced me for being me, no matter whether I’m wanting to wear lots of make up or no makeup.
“I credit my family and friends for my confidence. I have never been made to feel different than anybody else.
“My family have always been so loving and my friends, especially my best friend, have always been really protective of me.
“Those close to me always say they don’t see my birthmark – it’s taken me a long time to get my head around this.
“I believe regarding make up and treatment there is no right or wrong answer. I believe this applies to everyone, not just this with disfigurements.
“Everyone is different and will want to make different decisions. I think you should do whatever you feel comfortable with and will allow you to live a full life.
“I am very aware that I have been blessed with an amazing support system and the confidence I have is down to their love and support.”