By Elizabeth Hunter
THIS WOMAN says strangers call her ‘ugly‘ because of the large birthmark across her face – but she is having the last laugh after becoming a model.
Amy Elsegood (29), a cosmetic surgery booking advisor from Leeds, grew up with a large port wine birthmark covering part of her face.
This type of birthmark is caused by a collection of abnormally formed blood vessels in the skin and is largely superficial. Its colour can deepen with age, or develop lumps – but the appearance can be reduced with laser treatment available on the NHS.
Amy went through rounds of this treatment as a child, but the discomfort of the laser quickly turned her off the idea.
As a teenager, Amy felt insecure and began hiding her birthmark with makeup and she now uses Instagram to share tips and techniques with other women with port wine birthmarks.
After amassing over 6,000 Instagram followers during 2020 under the handle @amyelsegood, Amy was approached by a modelling agency, and has since been booked for several modelling jobs, including QVC.
However, despite her love of modelling, she still faces backlash, receiving comments like ‘take her swimming on the first date’ – a common sexist insult implying that she is unattractive without makeup – and rejection from various modelling jobs, as she ‘doesn’t fit the criteria.’
“I always knew that I was different to other people when I was growing up,” said Amy.
“It didn’t really bother me as a child, but as I got older and wanted to start wearing makeup, I started to find it quite difficult.
“I would try to find makeup that would work, but sometimes it just made it worse, and I would feel insecure about that.
“I started to do videos on Instagram and YouTube, because there were so many other girls who had the same problems as me. It became a hobby to post videos of me trying different makeup and seeing what works, to let other people know as well.
“Then I received a DM on social media asking about modelling. It had always been something I’d thought about, but I thought I would never be able to because of how I look – but things have changed now.
“I started modelling and I love it – I love the fact that I can be myself and people want to work with me because of it. I can spread the message that it’s okay to be different.
“The modelling industry can be hard sometimes though. It’s new for me, and sometimes people don’t want to work with me because I don’t fit the criteria, so I have to be thick-skinned.”
“I still get comments that bother me – I’ve been told I’m ugly and that someone would need to ‘take me swimming on the first date,’ but I try to not let it bother me.”
Amy has spent the last year working on building her online presence, hoping that she can increase awareness and spread a body-positive message.
“I was filmed as part of a BBC documentary called Skin, following different people with skin conditions going through treatments,” Amy said.
“I went to London to film and Manchester to have laser treatments – but it was a hard decision. I had it done as a child and it was a horrendous experience.
“To have it done again was very scary, but luckily it wasn’t as bad as I remembered.
“I think it’s important for me to be out there because it’s good to show younger girls that everyone’s different and perfect the way they are.
“I get messages from people thanking me for the makeup tips I give, or even mothers of children with birthmarks asking how I coped with it and if I have advice.
“I say that people have to accept the way they look and become confident with it – because you’re never alone, there are so many people out there with visible differences.
“I feel like I’m confident in myself now and I’m happy with the skin I’m in. It’s all still new to me, but I’m excited to see where this journey will lead and what differences I can make to other people.”
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