Loving your body isn't easy for everyone, and 19-year-old Ciera Swaringen knows that to be true.
Born with a rare condition called giant congenital melanocytic nevus (GCMN), Swaringen has large, mole-like birthmarks covering more than half of her body.
For years, Swaringen felt trapped by her disease, and the torment and ridicule from her peers didn't help.
Unfortunately, GCMN has no cure, and there's not much doctors can do in the way of treatment, either. So, forced to reconcile with her differences or spend her life miserable, Swaringen decided to embrace her body as it is.
She recently spoke to Daily Mail about her condition, her future and her journey toward self-acceptance. By all accounts, Swaringen is headed in the right direction, and she's making a major impact along the way.
Check her out below.
Swaringen, from Rockwell, North Carolina, has giant congenital melanocytic nevus, a condition affecting one in every 500,000 people born annually.
The rare skin condition has no cure, and because the spots cover most of her body and continue to develop, it's not really possible to remove them.
For years, Swaringen was bullied by her peers.
She told Daily Mail, “Teenage boys are usually the first ones to comment. They say things like, 'You look like you're dirty, take a wash.'”
Though the remarks used to hurt her deeply, the 19-year-old said she grew to be comfortable in her skin.
She explained, “I feel lucky to have grown up in a small town because most of the people… know about my birthmarks, so I feel quite normal.”
She also said her parents, who call her birthmarks “angel kisses,” helped her reconcile her condition...
...and she receives support from online communities for those who suffer from GCMN.
Swaringen has to be careful, though. She's at a much higher risk of developing skin cancer than the general population.
All that aside, life is good for the teen.
She told Daily Mail, “I'm so proud to be different.”
Learn more about GCMN here, and find Swaringen on Instagram here.
Citations: North Carolina teenager who was taunted by school bullies has embraced the hundreds of birthmarks that cover her entire body (Daily Mail)