The Vascular Birthmarks Foundation Dr. Linda Rozell-Shannon, PhD President and Founder

Alexis Gonzalez, United States (US), California

I have a port wine stain above my lip which I’ve hidden most of my life. Although my birthmark is small, it’s caused my life to be very different. When I was a child I lost friends and felt like an outcast because of this little mark on my face. Kids would spread rumors about me and tell others that I was contagious.

Most of my birthmark is inside my mouth, so I was always scared of dentist visits or even smiling in front of people because I knew I would have to explain my birthmark every time. When I was 10, I began to cover my birthmark every day with makeup and never let people see it. I have not gone outside or put myself in view of other people without my birthmark covered for the past 12 years.

Recently, thanks to those I’ve met online in the vascular birthmark community, I’m now learning to become more comfortable with myself and with my birthmark. I’m sharing my asymmetrical smile unapologetically and I want to educate others about vascular birthmarks so that it won’t seem so strange or unknown to people anymore. I don’t want any other children to grow up feeling the way I did about my birthmark.