Alba Parejo, a 20-year-old model from Spain, was born with a rare form of skin disease called melanocytic nevus, a condition that causes large moles and large patches of dark skin to form all over her body.
These birthmarks, totalling over 500, may make heads turn—but it’s the way Alba owns up to her skin and unabashedly celebrates it that make her truly remarkable. With over 46k followers on Instagram, she inspires women battling body issues through posting empowering photos of herself using the hashtag #BareYourBirthmark.
“I decided to show my body in social media because I felt very vulnerable when I was a teenager and showing my body through photos was very empowering,” Alba tells Cosmopolitan Philippines. “It made me feel beautiful, and that helped a lot to love my body the way it is.”
While there’s no doubt that Alba is now a candid champion of body confidence, her birthmarks are actually something that she had a difficult relationship with. At the young age of five, the Barcelona native had already undergone 30 surgeries to correct parts of her skin, and then eventually stopped due to overbearing trauma.
Family and friends showered her with love despite her unconventional appearance, says Alba, but this didn’t shield her from being targeted by bullies, who called her horrible names.
She shares, “I felt very normal because of my family and friends. The problem started when I was 12 years old and I recognized that the way people saw me was very different from how I saw myself.
I decided to consult a psychologist for me to be able to accept myself because it was very hard to feel vulnerable and weak because of my skin and the way that people see it as ‘dalmatian’ or deformed. I felt very vulnerable with boys, for example.”
Little did she know that her ~imperfections~ is something she shouldn’t be ashamed about. If anything, her uniqueness even added to her charm! “One day, when I was in the subway, a boy threw me a little paper that said ‘I love your moles’ with his phone number,” Alba recalls, adding that she felt like she was in some kind of ~movie~. “It was a very special moment because he talked about my skin in a special way.”
After struggling for years, she finally decided to get real with her birthmarks and post photos of herself on Instagram under the username Stracciatella. “I chose that name because it is my family’s favorite ice cream, and I feel identical to it,” Alba shares with a laugh. ICYDK, Stracciatella is a milk-based ice cream filled with irregular shavings of chocolate. One could call it the Italian version of chocolate chip!
Apart from doing it as an act of self-love, sharing her story is also a way for Alba to empower others with a narrative that debunks the blemish-free beauty that society is putting a premium on. She says, “I post on social media to help people who are living in similar situations to learn to accept their body for what it is. We have enough troubles in life, so we can not add our body as a problem.”
Her message to women who are experiencing discomfort with their so-called flaws?
“I would say that being in harmony with your body gives you a lot of love and calmness. It is very important to not just accept ourselves but also to love it because it is our space to grow and flourish. We have to accept that there are different bodies and these generate to being special and unique.”
Whether you’re dealing with birthmarks, acne, or stretch marks, you shouldn’t forget that these are the features that make you unique and beautiful! More importantly, no beauty standard should ever stop you from showing up as your most authentic, unfiltered self.
Follow Stracciatella on Instagram.
Editor’s note: Alba’s responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.
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