A mother-of-two who has endured a lifetime of cruel stares, was dubbed 'tomato face' and even became suicidal as a result of her rare birthmark has revealed that she has finally learned to love herself.
Michelle Daoust, 38, from Ontario, Canada, was born with a birthmark which spans across her 75 per cent of her face, half her neck, her right arm and hand and 75 per cent of her back.
The administrative assistant was diagnosed with Sturge-Weber Syndrome (SWS) at birth, a condition very few people were aware of at the time. At eight months old, it was discovered that the condition had caused glaucoma in Michelle's right eye, making her 80 per cent blind.
She recounts her struggles through growing up which saw her attend frequent hospital appointments and receiving constant teasing at school for looking different. This grew more difficult throughout her teens when Michelle's confidence plummeted because of bullying.
Questions Michelle was often cruelly asked were whether she had eaten a red Crayola crayon, if she had drunk too much Kool-Aid or if she was in a fire.
'My perspective started to change when I met my husband. It was the sweetest, thing. It was the first time we held hands and he took me in my right hand, which is my birthmark hand. That's when I knew he didn't care,' she said.
Michelle still has people stare at her in public, but she is more comfortable with herself now and most of the time she can block it out.
Unfortunately, Michelle's daughters, Cassandra, 13, and Camille, 10, have been subject to cruel taunts for the way their mother looks, which Michelle admits is difficult to cope with.
Michelle hopes to encourage more people to ask about birthmarks or unknown conditions, rather than stare at the person.
She said: 'People still stare at me now since humans are curious in nature. It's only natural, especially with kids. When it comes to adults staring, I still have a hard time with that.
'Growing up with SWS taught me that you have to be a fighter to survive, and to be your own self-advocate. I've gone from not understanding the condition as a child, to hating the condition as a teen, to now loving it and learning to accept its challenges as an adult.