My name is Maddie, I’m 15 and was I was born with CMN. Living with CMN, although it is very challenging at times, has also been a positive experience for me. When I was little my parents always told me that I had ‘special skin’, and this helped me with my confidence around my CMN as I was growing up.
When I was in primary school children would ask me, what was ‘wrong’ with my skin, and I would always tell them that my skin was just special. I was taught from a young age that my skin is what makes me unique, and this has always helped me view my skin in a positive way.
One of my hobbies I enjoy doing is ballet. When I first started going to the lessons, I felt extremely insecure about my CMN showing. It was challenging at the beginning because I wanted the girls to like me, and I was worried about them judging me for my birthmarks. But as soon as I went into the class, I realised that nobody was going to say anything unkind or be bothered about my birthmarks and I wasn’t treated any differently. This experience boosted my confidence a lot.
As a teenager, I have become more aware of my birthmarks, and this has contributed to my struggle with self confidence in recent years. Sometimes, I want to cover up my skin because I am worried about what other people will think of me.
I worry a lot about what other people are going to think about my skin and I sometimes feel self-conscious when my CMN is visible, and I am around people who have never seen me before. I sometimes get paranoid about people staring at me, even when they are not, because it can make me feel uncomfortable and I don’t like drawing attention to myself.
When I am around my friends and family, and people who I know, I am very comfortable showing my CMN and I don’t give it a second thought. However, I find meeting new people hard sometimes because I always wonder what they are going to think about my skin. The hardest thing is getting over that first step of people seeing my CMN for the first time. I know that when people stare it is usually only because they are not used to seeing CMN, so I try not to let it stop me from doing anything.
When Caring Matters Now exhibited the ‘how do you C Me Now?’ photographs in London in 2019, this really helped me to see my birthmarks as beautiful even though I looked different from other people. I realised my skin made me unique, which I liked, and this has helped me to feel proud of my skin and want to start showing it off.
Being part of Caring Matters Now has allowed me to build my confidence and make lifelong friendships with others who have birthmarks like mine. I’ve been going to the CMN family days and PGL trips since I was five years old. Some of my favourite memories ever are of being at PGL with all my friends from Caring Matters Now. Being with other people who have CMN is lovely because we can relate to each other’s experiences and it’s a good feeling knowing I won’t be judged for my skin. Without Caring Matters Now, I wouldn’t be the person I am today, and I am very proud to be a part of this charity.